Ultra strong and merciless tale of female slavery ring
Japanese Yasuaki Uegaki's film, Female Market: Imprisonment (1986) is one incredibly harrowing, brutal and strong rape related film that won't leave even the most jaded exploitation enthusiasts alone. The film tells the inhuman story of a bunch of young Japanese females who one night get kidnapped and taken to some abandoned looking factory area to be abused by some drug dealers and human slavery bosses. It is soon revealed that none of the girls have too many close relatives so they won't be searched after their disappearance. This all may sound like a plot from some Jess Franco women in prison flick, but it is more. This is Japanese exploitation which means only one thing: extreme.
Kazuo 'Gaira' Komizu wrote the film, and this madman is of course best known for his outrageous sleazy Guts/Entrails trilogy consisting of films Guts of a Virgin, Guts of a Beauty (both 1986) and Guts of a Virgin 3: Rusted Body (1987). All these films include almost hardcore level female (and male) nudity and sex and plenty of hyper sleazy goings on including kinky sex, some insane gore, monster semen and the like. The films are pretty harmless and not so "shocking" no matter what casual viewer would think about them (which I won't try to find out!). Female Market, however, goes farther and it is nasty with the capital N. The first 30 minutes or so are nothing but merciless scenes of the girls being brutally raped, abused, tortured and also killed. Soon it turns into some kind of revenge attempt and also escape story, but I won't go into the spoiling details. The first half of the short feature (uncut PAL version runs only 68 minutes) are as depraved, sadistic, misogynistic and brutal scenery as ever possible. It is not about graphic gore or anything like that, it is about the mean spirit and mentality behind those scenes.
What makes Japanese exploitation usually so interesting is the fact that no matter how sick, low and sadistic it may be, it may also have some very interesting and effective cinematic elements and details that prove the talent of the makers. The infamous Guinea Pigs are among these, especially the Mermaid episode directed by manga artist Hideshi Hino. That goes to Female Market, too, as the visual style and darkness is among the most impressive I've seen for long time, in a film like this! It is close to the finale of Japanese master Takeshi Kitano's Violent Cop (1989) in its bleakness and calm shadow filled darkness. When this darkness and depressing visual world is delivered with the mentioned hyper strong images of abuse and rape, you can imagine this film will blow you away. And it does, even an experienced exploitation cinema fanatics have admitted this film being almost unbearably daunting an experience and I am among those. Japanese film makers have proven their ability and talent to hammer their messages to the skull and spine cord of the viewer (Shinya Tsukamoto, Takashi Ishii to name just a few masters), and that definitely goes to their exploitation films, too. Something that's lacking from the cheesy Euro trash films from the sixties to the late eighties.
Female Market can also be seen as a pessimistic look of our nature and its brute and hidden sides, willing to dominate and humiliate each other as most of the rape scenes and scenes overall are pretty silent, without dialogue, which naturally gives much greater power to the images in cinema, and Takeshi Kitano is definitely among the most striking examples of this. The place it all happened may turn into a seemingly normal harbor warehouse next morning indicating that the human market is a big organized crime activity born in a big city and totally uncontrollable and extremely dangerous. This is the kind of film that can make the viewer hate himself just because of the fact that he realizes belonging to the same race, human race. But still the imagery is unnecessarily too graphic and gratuitous to make the above analyze as valid as I'd like it to be, and it seems they wanted to do an exploitation film with some brains in the other half of the piece.
The actors are very good, some of the acts are so graphic that the prints include the traditional Japanese optical fogging to not show the pubic hair, and that goes to all of the mentioned Guts films, too. The cinematography is impressive, the editing always peaceful, and the screenplay hasn't got unnecessary bits of dialogue and speech. This film really is something I won't forget too easily, nor am I willing to see it ever again too soon I think. If you've seen Jess Franco's Sadomania (1980) or some other of the low budget (s)exploitation films from Europe and elsewhere, imagine that to the nth sadism degree filled with dark visuality and you have a CLUE what kind of an experience Female Market will be. The kind of film that is quite impossible to recommend to anyone, and the 3/10 rating I'll give was not also too easy a choice. Again, Japanese cinema has amazed me, but not quite in the way I would've prefer.
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