Friday, February 6, 2009

REVIEW: S&M Hunter/ New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave

奴隷 (Dorei)

Released: 2007

Osamu Sato

Taro Araki
Komari Awashima
Naoyuki Chiba

Rinako Hirasawa
Kikujiro Honda

Running time: 60 min.

Reviewed by Bob Turnbull

Titillation isn't a bad word. Actually, it's kinda fun to say. Tit-il-la-tion. And there's nothing wrong with enjoying some either as it's really just a natural human response to the different triggers that excite us. We all have our own. Having said that, I must say that I was slightly reluctant and even a bit embarrassed to watch the first two DVD releases by PinkEiga.

The company specializes in softcore erotica films that are short, inexpensively made and cover a variety of different stories and approaches. As well, like many of the Japanese Pink films from the 60s and 70s, young innovative directors are encouraged to fill the screen with new and energetic ideas so all bets are off as to what you might see next. And it's that aspect that really convinced me to watch both of the currently available PinkEiga titles: "New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave" and "S&M Hunter". Not that the erotic portions of these films (and let's be clear - this is erotica NOT pornography) aren't occasionally enjoyable as well, but I kept looking over my shoulder ready to stop the disc for fear someone would walk in on me and "catch" me watching. This is magnified somewhat when the scenes perhaps go on a bit longer than required and the "sounds of pleasure" are too obviously dubbed. Both of these particular films push the erotica a bit further than say your regular late night cable movie (both have bondage and sado-masochistic moments), but they come across totally different in each of the films.

"New Tokyo Decadence: The Slave" is the story of a young woman trying to come to terms with her masochistic desires. She learns about them as a schoolgirl from her teacher and they are further nurtured by her boss as she begins her career. He's able to tell just by looking at her that she would make a perfect slave for him and they begin a rather intense affair. The relationship (filled with degrading acts) reaches a turning point when another of her work colleagues professes his love to her. He's respectful, but also very passionate. What's a young masochist supposed to do? The interesting twist here is that the film is based on main actress Rinako Hirasawa's own experiences. This can't help but put a different spin on how you react to seeing behaviour that certainly doesn't fall under any general "normal" definition. Though this 2007 film (in its scant 62 minutes) doesn't really come to any conclusions as to why she enjoys what appears to be demeaning activities, it feels like an honest portrait of this woman. You may not understand her, but there she is...It reminded me somewhat of Steven Shainberg's "Secretary". With more nudity.

Sakasa tsurushi shibari nawa

Released: 1985

Shuji Kataoka

Yutaka Ikejima
Hiromi Saotome

Shiro Shimomoto

Running time: 59 Min.

1986's "S&M Hunter" is a different beast. There's no consideration of realistic alternative lifestyles here or dramatic "be true to yourself" scenes. This is pure over the top silliness. With more nudity. And a whole lot of ropes...An all-girl gang called The Bombers have kidnapped a fresh faced young man to be their sex slave, but his older male lover recruits the S&M Hunter to help bring him back. Here's really all you need to know in order to enjoy this hour long feature: the S&M Hunter is a one-eyed expert with ropes who uses them in whip-like fashion to tie his female victims up in spider-like webs and drive them to heights of pleasure simply by plucking one of the ropes like a guitar string. Of course, no woman can resist him (they may try, but they will fail) and they all fall desperately in love with him and his ropes. If you're willing to watch the film for the pure pleasure of not knowing what the hell is about to happen next and not worry about getting offended, you'll likely laugh out loud in several places just like I did - say for example during the description of a "scat job" or perhaps the naked female arm wrestling with knives. This all leads up to a final confrontation between the S&M Hunter and a Nazi-costumed, nunchuk-wielding young woman out for revenge. Fortunately he has his mobile crane with him...

I don't expect that either of these films will get many replays from me, but PinkEiga has certainly made it clear where their growing library of films is headed. Though made at low costs, the films still look good - these are not cheap, quick, knock off grindhouse flicks. Exploitation cinema can not only titillate, but it can surprise, entertain and sometimes even change some of your perceptions. So throw away any preconceived notions and don't feel ashamed to try something a bit different. Just lock the door behind you before pressing Play.

Read more from Bob Turnbull at his blog.

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