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  Sukeban Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack Girls just wanna have fun
Year: 1971
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Stars: Reiko Ike, Yukie Kagawa, Shinsuke Taki, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Toru Abe, Shigeru Amachi, Pita, Miki Sugimoto
Genre: Sex, Action, Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Strutting around in sexy Seventies outfits Reiko (Reiko Ike) and her gang of delinquent schoolgirls hustle a horny middle-aged salaryman before drugging him unconscious to steal his money. When some cocky motorcycle studs try to rape Reiko and co., tough yakuza punk Jiro (Hiroshi Miyauchi) saves the girls. In return Reiko rewards Jiro with a mind-blowing shag. Afterwards Reiko adopts sweet schoolgirl Yuko as a new recruit, encouraging her to shed her own virginity with a razor (!), before welcoming back one-time gang boss Jun (Yukie Kagawa). Fresh out of reform school, Jun is eager to usurp Reiko as leader. While Jiro joins the powerful Akimoto gang working alongside his idol Mr. Doi, a legendary yakuza with a troubled past, Reiko patches things up with lead biker boy Eiji (Shinsuke Taki), pampered son of a prominent pharmaceuticals executive. When Eiji insults the boss of the Akimoto gang, the gangsters kidnap him as part of a blackmail scam driving Reiko and a disgruntled Jiro to seek revenge.

Girl gang exploitation films were popular in Japan even before Toei Films launched their Sukeban ('delinquent schoolgirl') series. Rival studio Nikkatsu cranked out a slew of equally stylish and controversial youth-oriented action flicks including Yasaharu Hasebe's infamous Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970). However, it was Toei's series beginning with Sukeban Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack that became synonymous with the so-called 'pinky violence' sub-genre of sexploitation-horror-action films, an offshoot of the Japanese softcore porn or 'pink' film. Taking a gleefully amoral stance, rather than outright condemning criminality among wayward Seventies youth, reliable Toei stalwart Norifumi Suzuki crafts a garish comic book actioner cramming as much sex, sadism, bloodshed and outrageous incident (the most infamous being the sex-on-a-speeding motorbike race wherein uniquely whoever comes first, loses) as he can into a breakneck eighty-six minutes. The film also has enough J-pop songs performed on-camera to qualify as a musical albeit one where teary heartfelt ballads are interspersed with a gang rape in an elevator, a schoolgirl on a toilet taking a razor to her hymen and enough blood squibs to earn the approval of Sam Peckinpah. Oh, and boobs of course.

Although Suzuki's irreverent sense of humour is well evident, with some of the goofier supporting characters only a few steps away from the Benny Hill Show, his film exhibits a disarming empathy with young people on the lowest rungs of Japanese society in the troubled Seventies. Amidst all the action and bare breasts, he draws a world in which sex and violence are the only viable currency among social rejects looking to climb up the ladder any way they can, where honour among yakuza is a fool's illusion but the bond between sukeban endures. The plot is heavily episodic, switching focus from one character to another, and makes the mistake of sidelining the delinquent schoolgirls in favour of Mr. Doi's melodramatic lament for a lost wife and child he never knew. What is more the usual cavalier misogyny and rape scenes blunt some of the film's satirical attacks on political and corporate corruption. Later entries including Suzuki's excellent Sukeban: Girl Boss Guerilla (1972) perfected the formula.

Even so in moments as when Reiko hugs Yuko and cries "No-one can help us in this world. We can only count count on ourselves" the film exhibits a powerful streak of pulp poetry. Reiko Ike was only eighteen when she made this film. Already a commanding presence she became one of Toei's most popular starlets, appearing in several series entries as well as stand-alone films like Sex & Fury (1973). Reiko's closest rival as queen of pinky violence: gorgeous, pouting Miki Sugimoto only appears in a small role here but still manages to bare all when she strips in front of a flustered store manager. God bless her.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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