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The Embryo Hunts in Secret (1966)
"Taiji ga mitsuryô suru toki" (original title)

 -  Drama  -  July 1966 (Japan)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 587 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 9 critic

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Miharu Shima
Hatsuo Yamaya
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July 1966 (Japan)  »

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The Embryo Hunts in Secret  »

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Version of Embrión (2008) See more »

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Dream of a Witches' Sabbath
Music by Hector Berlioz (uncredited)
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An Early "Precursor" To Japanese Exploitation Cinema...
11 February 2006 | by (St. John's Abortion Clinic) – See all my reviews

EMBRYO HUNTS IN SECRET is the earliest example of film I've seen so far that paves the way for the explicit and violent films that Japan churned out in record numbers just a few years later, and are still quite known for to this day. That's not to say that this is the first Japanese film to show strong exploitative elements - it's just the earliest example that I've personally seen. My copy has no subtitles or English dubbing, so any speculations that I make about the plot are just that - speculation...

The film surrounds a man and his wife (girlfriend, lover..don't really know for sure...) who have a strange nurturing/violent relationship. At some points they seem like your typical "happy" couple, especially in the beginning of the film, but as the story goes on, the man binds and continuously beats, whips, and humiliates her. There are some strange flashbacks that happen throughout the film which appear to be from the past, and show another couple where the man beats and whips the woman in much the same fashion. Due to how the flashbacks were inserted, I got the feeling that maybe they were "scenes" from the main character's past - perhaps his father and mother - which would help explain his penchant for spousal abuse...but again, this is strictly conjecture. The odd mix of violence and tenderness goes on for most of the running time of the film, until the wife gets free and gets even...

Unfortunately, I didn't understand enough of what was going on in EMBRYO to get a real grasp on the storyline. It seemed that this could have been a quite haunting film if I'd have understood the character's motivations - but as it is, it's pretty much a bunch of scenes of a guy beating his significant other. Cinematography-wise, the film appears to be pretty ahead of it's time with good editing, and some effective "art-house" style scenes. Overall, I would recommend this one to anyone interested in the origins of Japanese exploitation cinema. EMBRYO is not nearly as strong in terms of violent content as many of the exploit films that came out of Japan in the 70's through today, but it is still an interesting early foray into the genre. 7/10 - would probably have rated it higher had I understood the storyline...


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