It's a millennial apocalyptic Christmas film about the contract between God and mankind over the planet Earth, involving the emissary of the Lord, a Vatican agent and the Devil himself. It's also a Japanese pink film and cartoonish.
The key thing to note is the scriptwriter, Takao Nakano. He's written films like Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy
, The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai
and Big Tits Dragon: Zombies vs. Strippers
, but he's also written Minoru Kawasaki comedies (The Rug Cop, Kabuto-O Beetle). Hop Step Jump! also sounds worth a look, resembling an erotic comedy version of Spider-Man if he were a bullied Japanese manga character who'd been bitten not by a spider but by a poisonous frog. Nakano is an interesting filmmaker. He's also odd. This is a man who's far, far from any kind of beaten track and that's true here too.
I wouldn't say that this has artistic ambitions, though. It's daft sleaze and proud of it. It's just that it's also got a ludicrously Nakano-ish story to tell and it's more than happy to go to ridiculous lengths to do this.
The story begins with Shiori Kuroda getting a job at the Hot Lips salon as a "hostess". There are two important points in this scene. The first is that "hostess" at this club means "prostitute" and that we're in for a lot of boobs and unconvincing softcore sex. The second is that we're also in for storytelling, characterisation and humour that are downright garish. Kuroda marches up to the salon's stage in a cowboy outfit, grabs a microphone and starts delivering a sales pitch to explain why they should hire her. When this gets a negative reaction from the girls interrupted in the middle of servicing their clients, she responds by sticking her hand down the pants of the manager (Jimmy Tsuchida). A few seconds later, she's hired.
What happens next is that she meets Satan (Shuetsu Tokaichi), chasing a fairy princess in a purple wig (Nao Saito) who speaks in tongues. (Specifically Japanese, Korean and Chinese.) At this point it won't occur to you that he's Satan, of course. You'll just think he's a weirdo in clown-face make-up and a viking helmet. Kuroda defends Saito and even resorts to brief fisticuffs with Tokaichi, who gives her purple bruises that are disturbingly vivid for something this silly. However there's a reason for that. Having successfully saved Saito from her assailant, Kuroda is rewarded with magic kisses and her bruises magically vanish. If Saito lays her lips on you, you'll be healed of whatever ails you. We later discover that this is true even if you're wheelchair-bound, blind or a doddering senile old fool who can't remember the last time he had an erection.
Yes, this film has magic blow jobs. Kuroda gets Saito a job at the Hot Lips salon (eh?) and the film's alternative English title (Whore Angel) comes more literally true than I'd expected.
You'll have noticed the silliness. The tone of the first half is semi-ridiculous. I had to insert the "semi" because it never loses touch with its story or characters, but this is still the kind of film where getting hit with a hammer might make your hand swell to ten times its normal size and look like foam rubber. The salon manager puts down an inflatable doll at one point as a throwaway gag at the start of a scene. A plot point is that Saito has a heart-shaped pussy (no, really), but what we actually see on screen looks like either costume jewellery or a dimensional portal in 1970s Doctor Who. There's a guitar-strumming character called Latin Joe who's dressed like a Mexican in a spaghetti Western, but with a radioactive purple shirt and a gold wig. "Weird" doesn't really describe it. We're in the land of madness and it's all being done for a laugh, but in a way that sort of, slightly, has artistic coherence.
As for the nudity, there's plenty of it. It's less pornographic than Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy
, since you're in no danger of thinking they're doing it for real. However there are semi-lengthy softcore sex scenes and a jolly sense that we're never more than a minute or two away from toplessness.
In other words, this is ripe cheese. It's over the top. It's like a Viz comic strip come to life... but then it slowly dawns on you that Takao Nakano's doing his apocalyptic religious themes so strongly that they're holding their own against the rest of the production. No, that's an understatement. They end up dominating it. Kuroda has a sister who committed suicide and had a crucifix that Kuroda herself now wears, which we see in a flashback that's played completely straight. Everyone grew up in a Catholic orphanage and is capable of reading 10th century Satanist studies in Latin. It's Christmas (in the year 2000), which we're told is "the time for the miracle of love". The danger is that mankind will break its contract with God. What's more, the character journey of Kuroda actually works, if you can pretend you're watching a proper film. She defends Saito, fights against evil, has a subplot with a rival girl who misunderstands her relationship with the manager and eventually makes peace with the memory of her late sister.
There's also plenty of sincere religious dialogue, which of course just makes the film more surreal. "God knows everything, our joy, our sorrow." Christian fundamentalists would love this film if you showed them a deviously selected 10% of it. Oh, and after all those sex scenes, naked women and gleefully perverted plot points, the final contract between mankind and God's emissary is achieved with the touching of two fingertips. It's kind of a beautiful moment, actually.
In case you're wondering about the other films in the series, by the way, there's no plot connection. These pink film mini-franchises might have umbrella titles and even common cast members, but they're basically just a bunch of unconnected skin flicks. Number two in this series was called Deep Contact, sounds like a parody of the 1998 asteroid global disaster movie Deep Impact and might well be an improvement on it.
Would I recommend this movie? Not to anyone without a taste for trash. I think it's a lot more rich and interesting than regular trash, but at first glance it looks stupid and sleazy. Second and third glances don't make it look any better either. It's like a porno pantomime, but its secret weapon is that it works. It manages to keep its story moving and its characters' decisions meaningful even in a camp gag-ridden knockabout that you'd expect to drag everything down to the lowest possible denominator. It's full of energy and fun. It made me laugh. The way they do the Vatican Secret Service amused me, for instance, even though it shouldn't because the Catholic Church probably does have spies in real life. Nakano's script was award-winning, incidentally, although I don't know what award that might be referring to. Imagine a Japanese soft-porn version of The Day of the Beast
, but sillier.