Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 27th, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1970-1971
Directors: Yasuharu Hasebe, Toshiya Fujita
Cast: Meiko Kaji, Akiko Wada, Bunjyaku Han, Tatyu Fuji, Tatsuya Fuji, Hideichi Nagahara, Ken Sanders, Soichiro Maeno, Hiroki Tamaki, Takeo Chii, Yusuke Natsu, Hajime Kaburagi, Jiro Okazaki, Rikiya Yasuoka, Yuki Arikawa, Kouji Wada, Yuka Kumari, Hanako Tokachi, Eiji Go, Ryuzo Nakanishi, Michi Aoyama, Fujio Tokita, Toshio Harada
DVD released: December 8th, 2006
Approximate running time: 420 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (All Five Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese (All Five Films)
Subtitles: (No English subtitles)
DVD Release: Nikkatsu
Region Coding: Region 2 NTSC (Japan)
Retail Price: 19,000yen ($164.13) “Limited Release”
The Stray Cat Rock series which comprises of these five films Stray Cat Rock – Delinquent Girl Boss, Stray Cat Rock – Wild Jumbo, Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter, Stray Cat Rock – Machine Animal and Stray Cat Rock – Beat ‘71 where primary shot over the course of one year 1970 with the final installment being released in early 1971. Two directors Yasuharu Hasebe and Toshiya Fujita are responsible for shaping the themes present in this series. Yasuharu Hasebe directed the following films in the series Stray Cat Rock – Delinquent Girl Boss, Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter and Stray Cat Rock – Machine Animal. Toshiya Fujita directed Stray Cat Rock – Wild Jumbo and Stray Cat Rock – Beat ‘71 the series swan song.
The series featured many of the same actresses and actors in each of them five films with the series main actress featured in all of them being Meiko Kaji. Up to this point in her career Kaji had yet to make her break through and one can clearly see as the series progresses the groundwork being laid for her later performances in such series like the Female Prisoner and Lady Snowblood series. Other performers who are prominently featured in the series are Bunjyaku Han who appears in all five films and actor Tatuya Fuji who has more recurring roles then any other actors in the series.
Stray Cat Rock – Delinquent Girl Boss: The Stray Cay Rock series opens up where we are introduced a tomboy biker who is being laughed at by a male biker gang known as ‘The Black Shirt Corps”. Soon there after she meets the leader of a girl gang named May (Meiko Kaji) and the two quickly become friends. May’s boyfriend wants to join “The Black Shirt Corps” and when he is unable to throw a fight for them his is killed.
The rest of the film consists of Mako and her posse seeking revenge against ‘The Black Shirt Corps”. Delinquent Girl Boss is a solid debut for the Stray Cat Rock series which features many of the clichés and the style that would be later fully established in the third film Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter. There is plenty of violence in the film as the women show the men that they can stand toe to toe with them anytime or anywhere. The series starts off with Meiko Kaji’s character dying and being that it was a huge success with most of it being the performance of Meiko Kaji it is no surprise they would bring her back albeit under a new character.
Stray Cat Rock – Wild Jumbo: Is the second film the in the series and content wise is feels oddly out of place with the rest of the films in the series. The plot is essential a group of teens looking for a good time steal money from the wrong people which ultimately leads to their demise. Once again the character played by Meiko Kaji dies in the final moments.
This time around the film was directed by Toshiya Fujita who’s visual and musical decisions are in directed contrast to that of director Yasuharu Hasebe. One plus about the film is seeing Meiko Kaji playing a more light hearted character and she also parades around in a bikini.
Overall this film never really clicked like the others and it is without a doubt the weakest in the series.
Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter: The backdrop behind this Stray Cat film revolves around half-breeds (half Japanese/half something else). Kazuma a half breed comes to town in search of his lost sister Megumi who he hasn’t seen since she was adopted by Mama Blues. Mako (Meiko Kaji), is a leader of an all girl gang and she is in love with the Baron leader of his own gang the Eagles. When Mako forms a relationship with Kazuma, The Baron’s hatred dates back to when his sister was raped by a half breed. The Baron becomes jealous and beats him near death and offers him one last chance to leave town. Mako helps nurse Kazuma back to health as she grows closer to him and she helps him try to find his lost sister. Kazuma makes a deal with The Baron he will leave town if The Baron and his gang help him find his sister. The Baron is irritated that Mako and her gang have been helping the half breed Kazuma so The Baron unknown to the girls invites them to a party where he has sold them off as sex toys.
Sex Hunter is the third film in the Stray Cat series which ran for five films. Meiko Kaji is a goddess of vengeance who starred in (Stray Cat Rock, Female Convict Scorpion, and Lady Snowblood), in which she played anti-hero’s who would kill just as quickly with her blade as her stunning beauty would tame them for her bidding. Yasuharu Hasebe who directed Meiko Kaji in most of the Stray Cat films would go on to direct her in Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701’s Grudge Song which would also mark her final appearance as Matsu (The Scorpion).
Music is important facet to Stray Cat Rock Sex Hunter, the popular music group The Golden Halves provides music in between the free form jazz music cues. Like Seijun Suzuki, Yasuharu Hasebe has a strong visual sense that includes inventive direction and vivid colors schemes. The plot may appear half baked still the story is easy to digest and they is never a dull as the script is filled with colorful characters. Although most of the acting is atypical Meiko Kaji who plays Mako has already taken on the anti-hero persona she is most known for as she looks comfortable in her role. Ultimately Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter is the best film in the series.
Stray Cat Rock – Machine Animal: Three strangers carrying a package with LSD are pursued by two rival gangs’ one lead by Meiko Kaji and the other lead by Eiji Go. Running in the backdrop is a back-story where a woman in wheel chair who is played by Bunjyaku Han is kidnapped by Kaji’s gang to force the hand of Eiji Go (who has a personal connection to the woman) and his henchmen. Every scene with the woman in the wheel chair comes with an odd organ piece that sounds like something one would hear at church in choir.
Even though the sex, violence and T&A are toned down compared to most of the films in this series the story overall has so much going for it that it makes up for the lack of these three things. The club scenes and musical performances in this one look and feel larger then in previous films. This is one of only tow times in the series the other being Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter where Meiko Kaji’s character doesn’t come to an untimely demise. This is the third and final Stray Cat Rock film directed by Yasuharu Hasebe.
Stray Cat Rock – Beat ‘71: A wealthy man frames his sons’ girlfriend (Meiko Kaji) to keep them apart. She briefly goes to prison for a crime she has not committed before breaking out to reunite with the man she loves. Along the she befriends a group of hippies who try to reunite her with her boyfriend. This story in many ways resembles Romeo and Juliet and it also ends tragically.
This is the fifth and final Stray Cat Rock adventure with Toshiya Fujita taking over in the directors’ chair. This story like Wild Jumbo which is also directed by Toshiya Fujita lacks the same cohesiveness and spirit that is evident in the three films directed by Yasuharu Hasebe. The addition of the hippies to the plot didn’t help they just feel out of place in the Stray Cat Rock world. This is the only film not to feature any pre-credit in in-credit action with the opening moments coming after the credits.
The score is also rather different then the other four films’ as it has a more soulful feel to it. Without a doubt the films greatest flaw is it lack of its leading lady Meiko Kaji who appears and only to quickly disappear. This actually happens twice in the first fifty minutes. Still despite its lack of Kaji and other short comings it is an admirable finish to the Stray Cat Rock Series.
All five films have been given the red carpet treatment. Original vault materials where used and these films have never looked as colorful, sharp and free of print damage as they look via the transfers for this box set. Anyone who bought Images DVD release for Stray Cat Rock – Sex Hunter can expect audio/video quality with these five films that is on par or better then that release. The audio for all five films is their original Japanese Language and no English subtitles have been included. The audio sounds really good and has been thoroughly cleaned up.
This release comes with a wide variety of extras Extras including Cast & Crew Bios/Filmographies (Text in Japanese), a Still Galleries one for each film (10 stills for each film), a Booklet with Liner notes for each film (Text in Japanese), a Reversible covers with original poster art for each film, a Bonus DVD with Three interviews Yasuharu Hasebe (28 minutes in Japanese no English subtitles), Tatuya Fuji (30 minutes in Japanese no English subtitles) and Yoshio Harada (33 minutes in Japanese no English subtitles) and each films comes with their original Japanese language trailer and Stray Cat Rock – Beat ‘71 comes with two (No English subtitles).
Overall this is truly an exceptional package which collects five solid pinky violent type films unfortunately for those who are not fluent in Japanese none of the films or extras are English friendly.