Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 19th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1965
Director: Hiroshi Mukai
Cast: Michiko Shiroyama, Senjo Ichiriki, Machiko Matsumoto, Keisuke Senda
Approximate running time: 62 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital mono English
DVD Release: Cinema Epoch
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: A young man named Koichi is forced to become a gigolo to help pay for the care of his ill mother. Things become complicated when he falls in love with one of his former conquests. The madam he works for forces Koichi’s hand knowing how desperate his was to raise money for his mother’s operation. The madam plots to keep Koichi and his new love apart. Will her scheme keep the two lovers apart or will it push Koichi over the edge?
The Bite was directed by Hiroshi Mukai under the alias Kan Mukai. Hiroshi Mukai spent his entire career directing erotica films including the Pinku Eiga film Tokyo Deep Throat (which many Pinku fans consider his best film) for Toei. Outside of an incomplete listing of the films he directed there is very little information available about Hiroshi Mukai and his films. Most of his films are reported lost forever.
The Bite is an interesting and engrossing tale about a young man uses his body to help him raise the money needed to take care of his sickly mother. The Koichi starts with great confidence as he seduces any woman he wants with ease. He has a cool car and often wears shades even indoors. The film’s plot is half melodrama and the other half is a sex film. A lot happens in the films all too brief sixty two minute time length. The film features a score that at times is reminiscent of American pop music from the early 1960’s.
All the performances in the films are really good (even though the English dubbed tries to diminish them to an extent). All the women involved in the various sex scenes are gorgeous and there is plenty of nudity in this film. The film has a Seijun Suzuki quality to it and some of the scenes are reminiscent of Tokyo Drifter. The black and white photography looks breath taking. Director Hiroshi Mukai shows a strong command of visuals and pacing. The sex scenes are slickly executed in a way more romanticized then sleazy way. Except a rape that occurs later in the film which is done is very raw and animalistic way.
Ultimately The Bite is a solid exploitation film that retains just the right amount of erotica without ever sacrificing its superb plot.
The Bite is presented in a letterboxed widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The transfer for this film was sourced from a 35mm print (the only known existing 35mm print). The transfer varies in quality as there is some minor instances of nicks/specs dirt and some mild edge enhancement. Outside of these very minor print imperfections the transfer looks detailed and the black levels look strong throughout. Considering the rarity of this film and that it is over forty years old the transfer looks really good.
The only audio include with this release is an English dubbed audio mix presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Over the years many Japanese films have been lost forever and while it is disappointing that no Japanese language mix exits the English audio is more then adequate in getting the job done. There noticeable hiss throughout that never becomes load or obtrusive to the viewing experience. One minor thing that I didn’t like about the English dubbed audio is home some of the dialog is done in a voice over while the actors are obviously talking to each other and not to themselves.
Extra content is limited a to a very brief promo gallery of titles that are available on DVD from Cinema Epoch. Time and the elements have not been kind to this film those who want to see this film should be glad that any version of this film even exists at all. Despite its flaws Cinema Epoch’s DVD release for The Bite is a solid effort for a long lost classic.