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On the face of it, this is a very "violent youth" type of exploitation film
but there are some very interesting social matters running through the film.
It revolves around the relationship between Japanese, occupying Americans
and the "half" offspring of the groups.
There are interesting contrasts. Baron's gang runs around in American military jeeps yet we see through flashback that Baron's hatred of "halfs" may spring from his sister being raped by a US serviceman. His gang sets up a "party" with foreigners but they are the most ugly and brutish types imaginable. We have these ugly stereotypes of whites on the one hand yet the soundtrack features an on-cameras role by the group "Golden Halfs", five attractive "half" japanese women.
This is all packaged in a fantastic Suzuki style "exploitation "film. Great use of color and composition mark the influence of the Seijin Suzuki style on the director Hasabe. A great film for any "Violent Youth" fans.
Even though Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter was only released third in the
Nora-neko rokku series, it was actually filmed back to back with the
second entry Wild Jumbo and marks Yasuharu Hasebe's return as director
in the franchise after Toshiya Fujita who would also make the fifth and
final movie besides the second one. After the light, even comedic Wild
Jumbo, Sex Hunter is a step toward the darker mood of the original film
and carries a strong anti-racism message despite the lurid title that
makes the film seem sleazier than it really is.
As with the previous movies, Sex Hunter deals with youth gangs in a big city in Japan. This time the story focuses on two gender-based gangs: the girl gang led by Mako (Meiko Kaji) and the guys' gang called the Eagles led by Baron (Tatsuya Fuji). The two gangs can somehow get along with each other, but tensions are created by the relationship of Mako and Baron and especially the latter's intense hatred for people of mixed race. The girls cannot accept the Eagles' assault campaign against their half-blooded friends, such as Kazuma (Rikiya Yasuoka) who has come to the city to look for his long-lost sister, and eventually things escalate with dramatic consequences.
As already mentioned, the mood is significantly darker than in Wild Jumbo. There is more nudity, blood, drug use and sexualized violence (even an outright "rape party"), even though in general the title "Sex Hunter" can be called exaggerated. Nevertheless, the film is still a recognizable Stray Cat Rock movie as all the trademark elements are there: extremely groovy psychedelic rock and jazz music, lots of aggressive driving in roofless Jeeps and some camera trickery to heighten the intensity of certain scenes. The use special camera techniques has been toned down from Wild Jumbo though; this time the only specialties are some flashy editing and a diminished screen size that forces the mise en scène to seem very cramped and crowded but also starts to get annoying after a while. But as said, gimmicks are not used as extensively as before and most of the movie is conventionally good-looking and well shot.
The story about the Eagles' racism adds a welcome societal touch to the plot, as does the tragic ending at an abandoned watchtower (why he fires those last shots is open to interpretation). The girls' friendship and the roots of Baron's racism in his childhood also belong among the more interesting plot lines and could have actually deserved more screen time at the expense of some of the action. On the other hand, stylized visuals are what these movies are known for, philosophical and plot-hole-free stories not as much. In any case, Meiko Kaji and Tatsuya Fuji, the staples of the franchise, are as fun to watch as always; in addition I especially liked the appearance of the girl pop group Golden Half in the psychedelic club scenes (keeping up with the movie's theme of racial acceptance, the group was known for its members being of mixed heritage themselves).
I guess it largely depends on personal tastes if one prefers the serious Sex Hunter and Delinquent Girl Boss to the more lighthearted Wild Jumbo. As for myself, I like all of them but might ultimately give an edge to Toshiya Fujita's entertaining caper story. For anyone interested in Japanese tough girl gang cinema, all five films are recommended viewing though. Sex Hunter appears to be the most well known of the five based on the number of IMDb votes and reviews (perhaps the title attracts fans of Hasebe's rape-themed pink films?) but I maintain that the other four Nora-neko movies are cool too if you like this one. Good entertainment with a serious undercurrent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yasuharu Hasebe, director of my personal favorite pinku film, ASSAULT!
JACK THE RIPPER and the equally sleazy but less powerful RAPE! 13TH
HOUR, helms this earlier Nikkatsu entry that is far less twisted then
his later films. STRAY CAT ROCK: SEX HUNTER (the third in the STRAY CAT
ROCK series) is a decent film for what it is, but the lower level of
sleaze knocks it down a few notches for me...
Mako and her girl-gang are in a constant state of flux with the local guy-gang, The Eagles - and things get rough when the guys start targeting local mixed-race citizens for violence. A side-story about a half-breed guy looking for his long-lost sister adds another layer to the plot...
The SEX HUNTER title kinda throws this one off, as there's really not all that much sex, and really no "hunting" to be had in this one - but given the 1970 date, I didn't expect this one to be quite as "rough" as some of the later pinku material. This one reminded me a bit more of the more "mainstream" Toei productions which I also dig - just not as much as some of the latter, more "twisted" Nikkatsu productions. Worth checking out for hard-core pinku fans but definitely not one of the top of the genre...7/10
Stray Cat Rock:Sex Hunter starts off as local girls running around the
city,taking advantage of older men, stealing their money and going out
for drinks.The head girl Mako lies outside of a bar and suddenly a man
wanders over, singing a sorrowful ballad.They talk and get to know each
other, then a pack of male gangs out to rid the city of half-breeds go
over to threaten him to leave or get killed.This has a lot going on
along with lots of revelations at the end.There's fights,Mako getting
stoned with rocks,a hotel "rape party",an underground bar with actual
bars, a frustrated gang leader named Baron who can't get it up.
When I realized it was a film made by Yasuharu Hasebe I was shocked since this is actually something early from him, he would later make the violent pinku entries:rape 13th hour,assault!jack the ripper, etc. This was a fantastic action film done by Yasuharu Hasebe he did an impressive job to what we've seen now, but a production from Nikkatsu it was way more like a toei.I didn't get much into Stray Cat Rock until the last 50 minutes,plus it was after watching Rica which I didn't like.But this was better especially Meiko Kaji.She's like Miki sugimoto and Reiko Ike,beautiful and badass.
If you LOVE the Japanese exploitation scene from the 60's or 70's like I do, you should definitely check it out.It's a winner..a real winner
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Goofy title aside, this is essentially another Japanese gang war
carried out through racial turmoil orchestrated by Baron who targets
"half-breeds" due to a past traumatic experience involving his sister's
rape at the hands of black attackers. Meiko Kaji, her deep, penetrating
eyes peering from between her long black hair, wearing a big-ass black
hat which looks to weigh a ton, is Mako, representing a female
group(..I've read them referenced as "The Alley-cats")who seem sexually
aligned with a hostile clan of hellraisers known as The Eagles,
directed by their sadistic brooding leader Baron(Tatsuya Fuji, under
dark shades, wearing colorful shirts and white pants)and his obedient
lieutenant Susumu(Jiro Okazaki). A handsome foreigner enters the city
looking for his sister, a "half-breed", Kazuma(Rikiya Yasuoka), finding
much trouble with Baron who wants him out of their turf. Kazuma works
as a mechanic and strongly desires to find his sister no matter the
cost to his well being, and Baron is determined, & hell-bent on ridding
his city of all those who carry Negro characteristics. Mako, attached
to Baron, falls in love with Kazuma while helping him find the sister
he's searching for. When she's actually a member of Mako's own
sisterhood, rejecting Kazuma, he takes the resentment especially hard.
When she is gang-raped by Baron's hoods, Kazuma will have it out with
him once and for all in a climactic shoot-out. Mako must endure a
tragic conclusion, right up close-and-personal as Baron and Kazuma
square off in a duel, western style.
The film features the period psychedelic bubble gum pop music club scene of the 70's, the fashion styles, drug use, criminal activity and overall rebellious youthful atmosphere of Japan, an obvious cinematic concoction designed to appeal to the target demographic attracted to these themes at that time. STRAY CAT ROCK:SEX HUNTER started out seeming rather aimless, an inside look into the culture of defiant youth, the film startled me when the very topical theme of racism is injected into the story. Baron, upon first appearance, seems little more than the head of a group of males without an identity..they merely exist to smoke dope, lounge around clubs, and stir up some trouble with anyone who dares an attempt to date their women. When one of Mako's girls, Maki, leaves Susumu for a half-breed named Ichiro, Baron hearkens back to that painful childhood memory that has left an indelible scar, resulting in a systematic hunt for those for whom he looks at as "symbols" of those that raped his sister. Scenes that emerge include Baron's setting up Mako's girls for a rape party, his constant heinous attacks on Kazumi, the Molotov cocktail revenge which sets a hotel room ablaze, and a very bizarre shooting resulting in a brother killing his sister for some unexplainable reason. Early on you even had Mako in hand-to-hand combat with one of her own girls due to a roundabout challenge. The Eagles drive around the city in army jeeps, all(..or most)wearing dark shades, and certainly reveling in their violent actions towards innocents. Baron allows his boys to play, often laughing hysterically;you come to realize that Baron is a moody psychotic, often stewing quietly until something pushes him over the edge. Kaji always holds my attention and Fuji commands the screen as her one-time-lover and eventual adversary. Yasuharu Hasebe, thanks to the typically marvelous production values of Nikkatsu studio, brings a polished look to compliment his skills at maintaining a decent pace(..which can lag due to long drawn out camera set ups capturing the intensity or sadness of faces). I think the film's most interesting feature is how Hasebe captures that particular time in Japan, and the way he lenses characters. The unpredictability might just be another asset STRAY CAT ROCK:SEX HUNTER has in it's favor. Attractive cast with interesting faces;the story could be polarizing to some. Rather depressing ending.
I saw this DVD in the front of an independent video rental store. Judging by the cover, it seemed to be a Japanese version of Faster Pussycat. I took it home, popped it in, and the beginning seemed to confirm my suspicion. However, as the movie progressed, it told the story of a gang of teenage/young adult Japanese girls, and their interaction with a gang of xenophobic young Japanese men and their battles with those who are the offspring of Japanese women and US servicemen. A lot of violence perpetrated by the Japanese men, with the girls acting as peacemakers and protectors of the "half-breeds". Like all movies, it comes down to a violent confrontation, and not everyone will live to see the credits roll. All in all, if you are looking for a good non-mainstream movie, it is worth a viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When one of the local girls starts dating a "half-breed", the local guy
gang (The Eagles) doesn't think much of it. The Eagles start of
campaign of terror directed at mixed race couples and individuals they
deem to be not of "pure" Japanese heritage. It's up to the leader of
the local girl gang and a "half breed" named Kazuma to stand up to The
Eagles even if they have to die for what's right.
While Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is a decent enough movie, it's not the movie I was hoping for. I'm relatively new to the Japanese exploit movies of the 70s having only recently watched three of the Female Prisoner #701 movies. Since Meiko Kaji stars in both and Yasuharu Hasebe directs in both, I was hoping Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter would be similar in tone to Female Prisoner #701. And while it has its moments (a couple of fight scenes, the rape party, and the jeep chase for example), the movie is far too serious in its focus to be as much fun as I hoped. More girl gang action and less racial tension would have gone a long way to making this one a real winner.
The highlight of the movie for me has to be Meiko Kaji. I've now seen her in five different movies (this one, the three Female Prisoner #701 movies, and Lady Snowblood) and she never fails to impress me. She's an actress I hope to see more of in the future.
You never really know what to expected with these early 70's Japanese Pinky Violence/Exploitation movies, but the absolute last thing I ever expected to find in a film lusciously entitled "Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter" was a socially relevant and thought-provoking allegory on topics such as racism, female liberation and brotherhood. There are a handful of "Stray Cat Rock" movies, but apparently "Sex Hunter" is the most widely available one and also the most superior one in the cycle. I'm certainly tempted to believe that, because what I saw was a compelling film from start to finish; - albeit with a exemplary crowd-pleasing elements like sexy eloquent girls, grotesque moments at comedy and kitschy musical interludes. Most bizarre, however, is the surprisingly low amount of explicit violence and gratuitous nudity. The main emphasis here lies on plausible story and the increasing tension between the rivaling gangs/sexes. The unearthly beautiful Meiko Kaji (later she became Japan's most successful exploitation actress thanks to "Lady Snowblood" and the "Female Prisoner: Scorpion" series) stars as Mako, the leading lady of an all-girls gang known as the Alley Cats. The girls are tough and independent, but they nevertheless still stand in the shadow of "The Eagles". They are a male gang, led by sadistic Baron and driving around the city in military jeeps. The Eagles are a bunch of racists, particularly against the half-bloods (the offspring of Japanese women and American WWII soldiers) who're allegedly stealing their women. The hard-boiled Mako is also falling in love with a half-blood, named Kazuma, but he actually came to town to look for his long lost baby sister. "Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter" turned out to be much more compelling, suspenseful and memorable than we (my fellow cinema mate and I) dared to anticipate. I love it when that happens! Director Yasuharu Hasebe may perhaps be most (in)famous for his downright deviant exploitation-porn movies, like "Assault! Jack the Ripper" and "Rape!", but this undoubtedly must be his best movie. Besides, if you're really looking for weird stuff, you'll still enjoy the inexplicably theatrical denouement and the numerously shameless attempts at product placement by Coca Cola.
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