Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 27th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, February 17th, 1973
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Writers: Norifumi Suzuki, Masahiro Kakefuda
Cast: Reiko Ike, Christina Lindberg, Akemi Negishi, Jun Midorikawa
DVD released: September 27th, 2005
Approximate running time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Panik House
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Ochô Inoshika (Reiko Ike) witnessed the brutal murder of her father a police officer. In his hand he held three playing cards which hold the clues to the three people responsible for his death. Year Ocho now a grown woman searches for her fathers killers. One day at a gambling hall comes across a dying man whose last wish is that Ocho deliver his bankbook to his sister Yuki who is currently living in Asakusa to pay off a debt she owns before she is sold into prostitution. Mr. Iwakura refuses to accept the money Ocho has brought on behalf of Yuki’s brother and he only agrees to let Yuki go if Ocho can beat his champion card player. If Ocho wins then Yuki will be free and if she loses she will then become the property of Mr. Iwakura.
Sex & Fury is the first film in series of two films in which Reiko Ike stars as Ochô Inoshika with its sequel titled Female Yakuza Tale: Inquisition and Torture. Japanese maverick filmmaker Norifumi Suzuki directs Sex & Fury with his usual highly stylized visual tapestries and just the right amount of dark humor added in for good measure. The film is filled with flashbacks have dream like quality to them similar to the flash backs that are prominent in all of Sergio Leone’s films. Other aspects of the films look like extreme close ups and zooming as well a shots soaked in red lighting are all used to great effect.
Reiko Ike gives a solid performance as the lead Ochô Inoshika and despite some of the similarities between her character and that of Meiko Kaji’s Sasori are bound to be made, still Reiko Ike crafts her own unique female heroine who in many ways is a more defined character then Sasori. Early on in the film there is a screen with Ocho that firmly establishes her as a character and the tone of the film that is to follow. She is talking a bath when assassin burst in on her and she jumps naked out of the tub grabs her sword and proceeds to kill her attackers one by one. Words can not do this scene justice and it must be seen to fully appreciate it.
Swedish sex icon Christina Lindberg of Thriller a cruel Picture fame has a substantial role as a British spy named Christina. She isn’t an actress that has that much range and just like in Thriller a cruel Picture she relies heavily on her physical attributes. Despite her limited acting abilities she has a strong enough screen presence that she literally steals every scene she is in. Christina Lindberg has several scenes in which she is making love one of them with a woman and in other instance she is raped. The rape sequences in this film are done with the utmost realism. Her characters entrance is spectacular and her demise is one of the most beautiful death scenes ever filmed. Most exploitation films reply heavily on nudity and violence two elements which are prominent in Sex & Fury, still this film is a cut above the rest as it doesn’t rest on its laurels and it actually has a strong plot that ends with an amazing pay off.
Panik House presents Sex & Fury in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This progressive scan transfer has colors that look vivid with deep reds and natural looking flesh tones. The black levels are in great shape as they remain strong and exhibit an exceptional amount of detail in every frame. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and grain is non-existent. The source print used for this transfer must have been in immaculate shape since there are no noticeable flaws as the image remains stable through out. I have seen close to forty Toei films that have been released on DVD and Panik House’s transfer for Sex & Fury is one of the best I have seen to date.
This DVD release comes with only one audio option the films original Japanese language track which is presented here in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog is razor sharp and there are no problems with hiss or distortion. The music and effects sound evenly balanced as they never drown out or distort the other. Removable English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release include a Poster & Still gallery and the films original theatrical trailer. Other extras include production notes, “Toei’s Bad Girl Cinema” an essay by Chris D. and bio’s for Reiko Ike, Christina Lindberg and Norifumi Suzuki. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Chris D. whose knowledge of this genre and film is evident immediately. He has a lot of interesting things to say through out the duration of the film. There is an Easter egg which can be found via the director & star bio’s page. Just simple highlight the blood spot in the lower right hand corner and a bio for Jun Midorikawa will appear.
Panik House beside their first rate job on the audio/video portion and they wealth of extras include they have also gone the extra mile when they designing this DVD’s case. The DVD is housed in a transparent clear case that also has a sticker of Reiko Ike. There is an outer slip case that goes over the main DVD case that has minimal box art and the writing like the outer sleeve is virtually see through. Sex & Fury has it all nuns with switchblades, iconic religious imagery, sadistic torture sequences and plenty of flesh in on parade, highly recommended.