Female Demon Ohyaku is the first in a trilogy of films that are often considered a precursor to the Pinky Violence film that became very popular in 1970's Japan. One of the things I love most about the Pinky films is the cinematography; and the colour schemes used in many of them are a big bonus. This early one is filmed in black and white and so doesn't benefit from a striking colour scheme; but that really doesn't hold it back in the cinematography department as this film really is beautiful! Revenge is an extremely common Pinky theme and that is the one shown here. We focus on a young girl who was almost killed by her mother as a child. She's rescued by the circus and grows up to become a tight rope walker. She later catches the attention of a local thief and the pair hook up and try to rob the local mint; but things go awry when they are caught, tortured and the man she has fallen in love with is killed. Our heroine is sent to a prison camp and forced to work in the mines; but while there she plots her revenge on those that took her man from her...
The film doesn't contain as much blood and nudity as some of the later entries in the genre; and it's an overall artier affair, but there's still more than enough here to satisfy the average Pinky Violence fan. The film moves at a steady pace throughout and is always entertaining enough; but things really pick up in the final third and last half hour of the film is not far at all from being as good as this genre gets. Director Yoshihiro Ishikawa implements a range of interesting and diverse characters into the mix; our central character is a fine balance of good looks and athletic ability and certainly fits the bill for this sort of film. Some of the most interesting scenes take place between her and the tattooist lesbian wife of the prison boss - although I do wish more was made of that relationship. Everything builds up to a bloody revenge and once Ohyaku starts to get her own way; the film is incredible. We get treated to one of the best murder scenes in any Pinky flick, followed by a nail biting torture sequence. Overall, this really is an excellent slice of classic Japanese cinema and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing the rest of the trilogy!
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