The story of an orphan girl, brought up in naive, rustic innocence by an elderly relative, who is suddenly exposed to the brutality, greed and deceptiveness of the outside world, when her grandmother dies.
To satisfy her lover's fetish for tattooed women, Akane agrees to have her body covered in eloborate tattoos by Kyogoro, an old craftsman. Kyogoro has developed a special technique, by ... See full summary »
A rich merchant gives his clerk an I.O.U. instead of wages. When the impoverished clerk presents the paper to the merchant at the agreed upon time asking for payment, the man flies into a ... See full summary »
A mysterious tattoo artist puts his masterpiece, a human-faced spider, on a kidnapped woman's back. She and her lover are then forced into a conspiracy-born nightmare, where they face the danger of becoming the very evil they seek to escape. With each new bloody incident, the spider's face seems to redden with ever-growing hunger... Written by
One reason why Japanese films are my favorite is because they seamlessly mix art and entertainment. While mainstream American films focus too much on the latter, producing mostly fun but forgettable flicks, and Russia, for instance, is known for tediously known snoozefests, with Europe being mostly hit-or-miss and the Chinese film industry being contaminated by propaganda, Japan has an immensely diverse cinematic tradition with countless gems like this one. Yasuzo Masumura's Irezumi (Tattoo), may not carry a strong underlying moral or a message, but instead the beauty lies in its mood and style, perfectly balancing the line between seductiveness and dark violence.
It's based on the novel by Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, who also wrote the literary basis for Masumura's slightly more famous film Manji. Irezumi is scripted by Kaneto Shindo (director of Onibaba and Kuroneko) and stars Masumura's muse Ayako Wakao, in one of their many, many collaborations. This is essentially a revenge tale with some erotic undertones and acting which ranges from excellent to downright cheesy. Another thing about it that's a bit uneven are the murder sequences, some of which are badly put together, while the others are truly painful, bloody and disturbing as it's intended.
The main character is a morally ambiguous femme fatale who gets kidnapped into geishahood and gets a tattoo of a tarantula with a human face tattooed on her back (it's worth noting that the Japanese word for tarantula is jorogumo, joro standing for "prostitute", as both Wakao's characters and tarantulas are bloodthirsty). The Shakespearean romantic story and the increasingly dark atmosphere wonderfully come together in the film's striking climax. The cinematography is wonderfully realized, but hurt by the foggy print quality. The movie is really begging to be restored.
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