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Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal (1970)

Nora-neko rokku: Mashin animaru (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 22 November 1970 (Japan)
Two Japanese men help a Vietnam war deserter escape from Japan for Sweden. They plan to fund the escape by selling LSD pills. After word of the drug deal gets spread around they find themselves fending off rival gangs.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Nobo
Noriko Kurosawa ...
Ema
Eiji Gô ...
Sakura
...
Maya
Bunjaku Han ...
Yuri
Jirô Okazaki ...
Sabu
Toshiya Yamano ...
Charlie
Yasuhiro Kameyama ...
Daru
Hajime Sugiyama ...
Kiddo
Hiroshi Ichimura ...
Junkie
Yuka Ôhashi ...
Remi
Sari Takano ...
Jun
...
Sarii (as Mako Ichikawa)
Masami Maki ...
Yuka
Takashi Seyama
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Storyline

Two Japanese men help a Vietnam war deserter escape from Japan for Sweden. They plan to fund the escape by selling LSD pills. After word of the drug deal gets spread around they find themselves fending off rival gangs.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Release Date:

22 November 1970 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Stray Cat Rock: Machine Animal  »

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Color:

(Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Followed by Stray Cat Rock: Beat '71 (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Hitori no kanashimi
Performed by Zoo Nee Voo
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User Reviews

 
Machine Animal
7 December 2010 | by See all my reviews

Releasing a movie and three sequels all within one year may sound a little exaggerated but I guess you have to strike while the iron is hot, right? In any case, the Japanese Stray Cat Rock franchise saw four entries in 1970, Machine Animal being the last one of the four although one more sequel came out the next year. While not as fresh as the first movies, the film is still watchable and can be enjoyed by anyone who has liked the other films.

The plot premise hasn't changed much since the last film: a girl gang led by Maya (Meiko Kaji, of course) hangs out around the city of Yokohama while being on friendly terms with Dragon, a tough biker gang led by Sakura (Eiji Gô, I think). The latter gang is responsible for a drug dealing business in the city's bars and is not happy when the girls decide to help three new guys (one of them played by the series' regular actor Tatsuya Fuji) to sell 500 pills of LSD. Since one of the guys is a Vietnam War deserter under constant risk of capture, the situation soon starts developing very dangerously.

Great music (psych rock, jazz fusion, sentimental schlagers), colourful fashion, a psychedelic go-go rock club... the trademarks of the series are still there and very difficult to dislike, but at this point they don't quite have the same effect than before. Haven't we seen them in three movies already? The visual trickery feels less original too, though the unconventional filters, framing, flashy editing, split screens and different angles are of course entertaining in their own right. If there is a notable difference to what we have seen before, I think this time we get to hear a few more songs, including one by Meiko Kaji herself. Not a bad thing at all!

The coolest scene is probably the big sidecar motorcycle/moped chase through various locations in the city, both indoors and outdoors. Gang rivalries and girl power have always been a recurring theme in the series but this time a slight anti-war message can also be found in the story when the girls decide to help Charlie, the deserter, instead of turning him in like the Dragon gang would like to do. Generally speaking, the actor who plays Charlie is not very convincing as an American and the political ideas are not really focused on much though. Another thing that could have received more attention is the plot line of Yuri, a strange wheelchair-bound woman who has an important role in Sakura's personal life and the underworld of the city; now her character is introduced quite late and doesn't tie in with the rest of the story very tightly. This is not really a major complaint in a movie like this but still something that can be mentioned.

As a whole, Machine Animal is not significantly weaker than Delinquent Girl Boss, Wild Jumbo and Sex Hunter and provides plenty of vintage coolness and entertainment for modern audiences as well. The tragic but hopeful ending fits in the mood well and leaves a positive, if melancholic, aftertaste but it is true that after this many movies made with the same recipe, the formula is already getting repetitive. Nonetheless, ignoring the influence of the other Stray Cat Rocks, Machine Animal is an adequately entertaining film at any rate.


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