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Naked Rashomon 
Written by: on April 9th, 2009


Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1972
Director: Chusei Sone
Writer: Atsushi Yamatoya
Cast: Hideaki Esumi, Hitomi Kozue, Moeko Ezawa, Setsuko Ohyama

DVD released: April 28th, 2009
Approximate running time: 72 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
Subtitles: English
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95


Synopsis: A nobleman with a barren wife finds a mistress who is fertile and able to give him the heir he desperately wants. When his mistress gives birth to twins (a boy and a girl). The nobleman orders his bodyguard to kill his mistress and her infant daughter. The bodyguard is unable to bring himself to commit murder and he helps the nobleman’s mistress and her infant daughter find a new life. Flash forward nineteen years, the daughter the nobleman never wanted and thought was dead re-emerges and falls in love with the nobleman’s son (her brother).

Naked Rashomon was directed by Chusei Sone, whose other notable films include Hellish Love, Angel Guts: High School Coed and Angel Guts: Red Classroom. The screenplay for Naked Rashomon was written by Atsushi Yamatoya who diverse screenwriting credits include Black Narcissus of Lust, Branded to Kill, Violent Virgin, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter and The Fang in the Hole.

Despite the film’s title, Naked Rashomon bears little to the 1950 Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon, which is borrows its name from. In fact the structure for Naked Rashomon is told in a linear way, unlike Rashomon which is told from several people’s point of views. Naked Rashomon is a period era drama that is populated with dysfunctional characters that lose themselves in their decadent behavior. The plot features nobleman with mistress, a cheating wife, prostitutes and some incest thrown in for good measure. The plot never tries to overreach itself and everything is easy enough to follow. The film’s final act feels abrupt. With all of the craziness that unfolds in this movie the ending does a good job wrapping things up.

The sex scenes are quick and to the point. Anyone who is familiar with Japanese erotica cinema is familiar with the use of mosaic or other devices to cover up genitals. Throughout the film many unique and some that border on intrusive ways of covering up the naughty bits has been employed. Also the fact that so many different ways are used throughout the film leads me to believe that this on purpose and most likely a stylistic choice by director Chusei Sone. Visually the film is not as inventive as other Nikkatsu Roman Porno’s when it comes to the sex scenes. Despite this film’s lackluster sex scene that is not to say that this film is not without its stylish moments with a moment where a prostitute who slashes her lovers’ throats and rivers of the red blood start flowing being a standout moment.

Performance wise all of the cast are more than adequate in their respective roles. Cast in the films two lead roles Hideaki Esumi in the role of the nobleman’s bodyguard and Hitomi Kozue in the dual role of the nobleman’s mistress / daughter. Hideaki Esumi frequently worked with director Seijun Suzuki on films like Youth of the Beast, Kanto Wanderer, The Flower and the Angry Waves, Story of a Prostitute and Tokyo Drifter. Other notable films that he has appeared in include The World of Geisha, Street of Joy, A Woman Called Sada Abe, Panic in High School, The Demon, The Resurrection of the Golden Wolf and Fossilized Wilderness. Naked Rashomon was one of Hitomi Kozue’s first films and other notable films that she appeared in include True Story of Woman Condemned: Sex Hell, True Story of Woman Condemned Continues and New True Story of Woman Condemned to Hell. Ultimately Naked Rashomon is a flawed film that never fully lives up to its potential.

The DVD:

Mondo Macabro presents Naked Rashomon in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Overall this is another strong transfer from Mondo Macabro that sports robust colors, solid black levels, details look crisp and this transfer has been flagged for progressive playback.

This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital mono mix in Japanese and removable English subtitles have been included. The audio fares well all around as dialog is clear and everything sounds balanced.

Some of the extras included on this release like a text piece about Nikkatsu Studios, a twenty four minute documentary titled “The Erotic Empire” and trailers for Female Prisoner: Caged!, Watcher in the Attic, Naked Rashomon, Sins of Sister Lucia, The Prosperities of the Vice and Assault! Jack the Ripper, these extras also appear on the Mondo Macabro DVD release’s for Assault! Jack the Ripper, Watcher in the Attic, Sins of Sister Lucia and Female Prisoner: Caged! Extras new to this release include a text piece about Naked Rashomon and a ten minute interview with Jasper Sharp who discusses Naked Rashomon and the films of Chusei Sone. Rounding out the extras is the Mondo Macabro preview trailer which includes clips from titles they have currently released or about to release. Overall Naked Rashomon gets a superb DVD released that is on par with Mondo Macabro’s other Nikkatsu Roman Porno DVD releases.

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