A different breed of Toei “Pinky Violence” sexploitation-action-thriller, this was the fourth and final episode in the Delinquent Girl Boss series. Its cheeky opening scene finds a prison full of delinquent schoolgirls going crazy over yakuza movie icon Ken Takakura in one of his Abashiri Prison flicks (also produced by Toei. So a nice bit of self-promotion there). Outraged prison governors shut off the projector, so these bad gals go wild and trash the place! The story proper begins as teen heroine Rika Kagayama (Reiko Oshida) clashes with moody Midori (Yumiko Katayama) in the communal bathtub. Shortly thereafter, Rika befriends Midori’s good-hearted father, Muraki (Junzaburo Ban) by the prison fence, whose gesture of reconciliation with his daughter goes ignored.
One year later, street-tough Rika returns to yakuza-infested Shinjuku where Muraki kindly gives her a job at his auto-garage, despite local hoodlums pressuring him to pay debts incurred by Midori’s no-good boyfriend. Elsewhere, another of Rika’s former cellmates, the pregnant and ailing Mari (Yukie Kagawa) poses nude for a sleazy sketch artist in a tawdry back-alley “art studio”, to support her husband (Ichiro Nakatani), a onetime yakuza now dying from tuberculosis. His kid brother Ryuji (Tsunehiko Watase), a ruggedly handsome truck driver, takes a shine to Rika. Gradually, the machinations of the yakuza crime lords bring these downtrodden folk together and after much tragedy and tears, Rika goes all-out for revenge.
Filmed in eye-catching comic book colours by steady hand Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, who later directed Sister Streetfighter (1976) and a plethora of manga-flavoured karate flicks, this upholds all the familiar genre staples, be it ogling nubile starlets, wacky comedy (chubby sidekick Makao goes gaga over Rika’s lovely legs), energetic action captured via crazy camera angles, and revelling in surreal settings. Most memorably the amazing psychedelic nightclub decked out in Lego and floral patterns with a fairytale motif, where blonde-wigged dancing girls groove it up in butterfly wings and colourful micro-miniskirts. Costumes, sets and cinematography are all artfully co-ordinated for maximum aesthetic effect, but what distinguishes this film is a welcome absence of rape and torture, together with a dense, faceted plot that weaves social commentary alongside the expected action and sex.
Its portrait of downtrodden folk abused both by the yakuza and “respectable” society really engages our sympathies, coupled with heartbreaking twists involving Muraki and Mari’s husband. The camaraderie that blossoms between the wronged women renders the all-action climax as affecting as it is undeniably titillating. Sultry redhead Yumiko Katayama - mainly remembered for her turn in kiddie matinee cult favourite Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot (1968), but otherwise a Pinky Violence regular - relishes one of her meatiest supporting roles, as does Yukie Kagawa. Often a supporting player in studio fare, one of her infrequent leading turns came in College Girl’s Secret: Pregnancy & Abortion, a movie so controversial it was never released. J-pop culture fanatics will know her from Toei’s far-from-faithful screen version of Spiderman (1978).
Co-scripter Yamaguchi really lets leading lady Reiko Oshida shine. Her happy-go-lucky, soulful and sassy heroine, contrasts with the more wanton and ferocious personas adopted by contemporaries like Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, but her sweet-natured, humorous approach coupled with a perky girl-next-door sexiness is no less potent. Plus she looks great in denim hotpants. With Yamaguchi’s support, Oshida never disrobed for her Pinky Violence roles and so had what for this genre constitutes a uniquely wholesome image. By way of concession to nudity-demanding studio bosses, the supporting cast aren’t nearly as coy, including Masumi Tachibana - the studio’s go-to gal for gratuitous nudity.
Those in search of a quick fix of sleaze might be surprised Oshida and Yamaguchi work up a level of pathos worthy of Sam Peckinpah. The movie climaxes in a delirious orgy of violence with the wronged women casting off their symbolic red raincoats, revealing skimpy halter-tops and hotpants, as they splatter blood all over the neon nightclub as Yamaguchi goes nuts with cockeyed angles and ingenious lighting effects. As Rika puts it: “Here we go!”