Not Suzuki's best, but it has some interesting elements
After Seijun Suzuki directed what would eventually become his most popular film, Branded to Kill, Nikkatsu fired him. He successfully sued them for breach of contract, but that led him to be blacklisted from the Japanese studio system for a decade. In 1977, Shochiku hired him to make this film (more commonly known as Story of Sadness and Sorrow). It's a very odd potboiler about a sports magazine that hires a model (Yoko Shiraki) to become a professional golfer. They previously promoted a famous Olympic gymnast, but once she became too famous, she left them behind. This time, they plan on keeping their new cash cow under wraps. After winning her first tournament, Shiraki becomes an overnight sensation and gets her own television show. While riding home with her manager and lover (Yoshio Harada, who would go on to star in several of Suzuki's later films), they are involved in a hit-and-run accident. The injured woman (Kyoko Enami), Shiraki's neighbor and stalker, then blackmails her to feed vicariously off her fame. The plot, as I said, is quite odd, and not all that well told. It does pick up when Enami is introduced. This is far from Suzuki's best work, but it is, as one might expect, visually interesting (much more so than his somewhat boring Taisho trilogy, which followed directly afterward) and quite well acted. The Region 1 DVD was released in 2009 by Cinema Epoch. I only found out about it a few weeks ago (mostly because I had always known of the film as Story of Sadness and Sorrow). I almost passed it by because the reviews on Amazon are very harsh toward the DVD itself. Thankfully, the quality is far better than I had read. The biggest problem cited was that there seem to be missing subtitles. It is true, there are small handful of lines which apparently didn't get translated. I'm not sure if this was a mistake or just lousy production, but, really, it's not that bad. There are two sequences in particular with missing subtitles, and the gist of what's being said is pretty obvious. It's disappointing, sure, but, in the age of DVD, we're more than a little spoiled. Back in the VHS days, it would have been unheard of to see 95% of the lines translated. If you were even luckier, you'd be able to read those subtitles some of the time. This DVD is more than acceptable. And, most importantly, the picture looks tremendous.
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