That was one of the silliest things I've ever seen in my life. It's also a straight-to-video Japanese live-action Go Nagai adaptation, starring porn stars. I'd been expecting it to be unspeakable. It's brilliant.
The story is standard Go Nagai. Our hero, Sukeban, has to pretend to be a girl and go to a girls' school, because he's so violent and obnoxious that he's been kicked out of everywhere else. So far, so sleazy. Twist 1 is that Sukeban has always been cursed with a feminine appearance, to the extent that he's played by an actress (Asami Sugiura) and all this gender-bending leads his big hairy father (Demo Tanaka) to fall in love with him and want to consummate their passion. (It's Go Nagai. Just go with it.) Twist 2 is that the school he's chosen just happens to have a discipline problem and some unusual girl gangs, e.g. the Pantyhose League, the No-Bra League and the Full Strip League.
Twist 3 though is that the writer/director is Noboru Iguchi, who'd go on to do The Machine Girl
, RoboGeisha and Mutant Girls Squad. This is a guy with a reputation. Even by Japanese standards, he makes insane freak cinema. It's all cheesy camp nonsense, mind you, but even so his films can be relied upon to contain explosions of gore, bizarre mutilations and strange cybernetic bio-warfare that can only be likened to David Cronenberg. This is one of Iguchi's earlier films and so that side of things is comparatively dialled down, but it's still here.
Noboru Iguchi and Go Nagai. That's like shaking up nitroglycerine and rocket fuel to see what happens. This might just be something I'd assumed was impossible, i.e. a live-action Go Nagai adaptation that's better than the anime.
So what's it like, then? All you need to know is that I was laughing like an idiot. What makes it immeasurably better than The Machine Girl
is nudity. On its own, a stupid fight scene with cartoonish gore effects is merely a matter of mild curiosity. However naked women will make it hilarious. Yes, I am scum. 50% of the human race has just stopped reading. Nevertheless I maintain that this film is so gleefully cheap and sleazy that it turns into a roller-coaster of self-parody and every additional bit of cheese just makes the whole thing funnier. Furthermore nudity by itself isn't enough, as as demonstrated by the live-action Kekko Kamen adaptations (although not the anime), which can get a bit samey. They're a bit vanilla, to be honest. I still like them and I'm still looking for Kekko Kamen Forever, the last one I don't have, but at the end of the day they're a one-joke franchise that's feeling a bit stretched at ten live-action movies so far.
This film doesn't have that problem. On the contrary, it's overloading on crazed imagination. The Naked Gang's fighting style is to beat the living daylights out of you while squealing in embarrassment and telling you not to look. There are ugly bearded men in drag. There's a bullet-spitting woman whose nipples open up like flowers to reveal bio-mechanoid machine guns. This is the kind of film that you'd imagine was written at 4am by drunken men who couldn't stop laughing.
There's more sleaze here than gore, which is good because nudity is funnier. The Humiliation Club is hysterical, for instance. The risible non-acting from the porn star cast just adds to the entertainment.
The cast are exactly what you want them to be. Asami Sugiura is rather good in the lead role, for instance. No one's asking her to be subtle, but she's giving it everything and clearly having an outrageous amount of fun. She also does well with Sukeban's masculine speech patterns and brash outlook. She even makes a success of her fight scenes. Unsurprisingly you'll see her again in other Noboru Iguchi films and does a good job in The Machine Girl
, for instance, while in 2009 she won the Pink Grand Prix for Best Actress for her role in Three Slaves. (Yes, "pink" means what you're imagining.) So you've got an attractive lead actress who's always fun to watch and doing well with the comedy... and that's enough. The other girls are variable, yet it doesn't matter. Emiru Momose is so wooden that she's laughable even in a Noboru Iguchi film, but the general aesthetic is such that this is almost a good thing. It adds more cheese.
More importantly, they all get naked. Look out for the worst breast implants you've ever seen, by the way. She appears to have two differently sized pairs of breasts, one pair on top of the other, but under the same skin.
Go Nagai even has a theme. You could be forgiven for losing sight of it in the insanity, but it's definitely there. It's about gender-bending, sexual identity and how love knows no boundaries, even if it's between (for instance) chicks with dicks amid a celebratory dance from lots of men in thongs. Look at all the girl crushes on Sukeban, for instance.
This is a good film. Seriously. It was shot in only three days and it keeps topping itself as the stupidest, sleaziest thing you've ever seen, but that was the intention and you'd have to go a long way to beat it for entertainment value. I want to see the anime OVA (also known as Delinquent in Drag) and the other live-action movie, both from 1992, although I'm prepared for the latter in particular to be a train wreck. About this film though there's nothing I don't like, even though by most objective measures it's rubbish. No, not "even though". "Because". However I'd defend Asami, who's funny, full of enthusiasm and does a good Fart Face. I'd be delighted to be proved wrong, but right now I'm assuming this is Noboru Iguchi's trash masterpiece and he'll never top it.
Random fact: Iguchi is currently making a Tomie film! MUST-SEE.