Written by: Carroll Jenkins on December 21st, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1972
Director: Yukihiro Sawada
Writer: Atsushi Yamatoya
Cast: Keiko Aikawa, Miyoko Aoyama, Hiroko Isayama, Richard Lean, James Martin, Yumi Nakano, Setsuko Ohyama, Jôji Sawada, Sayori Shima, Akira Takahashi, Hitomi Yarimizu
DVD released: December 11th, 2012
Approximate running time: 69 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Impulse Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Convict Okamoto learns that his sister was gang raped and then hanged. Her friend Etsuko survived the incident but has suffered brain damage as a result.
Forget that this is supposed to be a ‘roman porn’ entry. This is a rape revenge yakuza blaxploitation number filled with sex and violence. The American GI’s that perpetrate the rape (which is the focal point of the story) are brutal and vile, but all the male characters are sociopathic criminals, including our nominal hero, the bi-racial Okamoto. Even Etsuko is a stripper and live sex performer / prostitute, and hers is the most empathetic personality. She is portrayed by Hiroko Isayama (Sayuri Ichijo: Following Desire).
The plot on it’s face is rather simplistic, but has many twists and turns and is always compelling and/or confusing. This should not be surprising from writer Atsushi Yamatoya, best known for Branded To Kill and Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter [which also addresses mixed-race prejudice]. First time feature director Yukihiro Sawada maintains a brisk pace, dragging only for the few sex scenes (not counting rape) that are shot more for atmosphere and mood than for erotic effect. He created a very artful treatment with lots of quirky stylistic touches that are at times strikingly impressive.
This is a dark film in tone and image, especially the many night and interior scenes. A fine transfer of a very good print in widescreen anamorphic with removable English subtitles. The original theatrical trailer is included along with liner notes by Jasper Sharp.
Wet Target belongs squarely in the pantheon of rape / revenge cinema. But unlike the Bronson character in Death Wish, Okamoto doesn’t bother to train or plan but rather blunders from one confrontation to the next. The end result is much more akin to the Walker / Porter character in Point Blank / Payback where the protagonist is only a shade less despicable than his adversaries. We don’t so much root for him but rather hang on for the ride.