Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 10th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, September 28th, 1968
Director: Teruo Ishii
Writer: Teruo Ishii
Cast: Yuki Kagawa, Asao Koike, Reiko Mikasa, Miki Obana, Masumi Tachibana
DVD released: May 2005
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Japan Shock
Region Coding: Region 0 Pal
Retail Price: $29.95
Shoguns Joy of Torture is an anthology that is made up three separate stories that all intersect. This film was directed by Teruo Ishii who films The Executioner, The Executioner 2: The Karate Inferno and The Street Fighter’s Last Revenge all which starred Sonny Chiba are his most famous works outside of Japan. The film opens up with montage that includes various women being decapitated, burned alive and ripped into two.
The first segment is about Shinza who was hurt while working when a log hit him on the head and now sister Mitsu is forced give herself to her brothers boss Mr. Mino in order to help pay for Shinza’s doctors bills. Mitsu agrees to talk to Mr. Mino about her brothers’ bill. Only he doesn’t want to talk and decides to collect the debt owed to him from even if she was unwilling. Mitsu returns home after being raped by Mr. Mino only to find herself now being violated by her brother who now professes his love for her. They decide to keep their incestuous love a secret until one day when Mr. Mino shows up unexpected and catches them in the act. Mr. Mino threatens to report them o the police if Mitsu doesn’t submit to himself once and for all as his mistress.
The second segment is about the arrival of mother Reiho and her servant Rintoku at the Jukuin monastery. The monastery is located new to e temple inhabited by priest and one day when one of them named Shunkei runs by Reiho he arouses something inside of her. Reiho secretly watches from the bushes as Myushin and Shunkei have sexual rendezvous in the woods. Reiho who has developed an infatuation with Shunkei threatens to blackmail him into having have sex with her. Reiho’s obsession for Shunkei grows after he spurns her advances which leads to even more trouble for the woman he loves Myushin.
The final segment is about a tattoo artist named Horicho who has just given Kimicho his greatest tattoo to date. While showing his work off to a group of people a man named Lord Nambera walks by mocking the tattoo and it lack of realism. Distraught Horicho begins to doubt himself as he looks high and low for the perfect subject for his next creation. In ordered to capture the essence of the realism he so desperately wants to capture in his tattoo’s Horicho asks Lord Nambera if he would allow him to witness the torturing sessions that go on during interrogations. With his masterpiece near completed he asks one more favor of Lord Nambera that will help fill in the final blank.
All three stories in Shoguns Joy of Torture are connected by similar themes that connect them as a whole. The three stories are all well written and the acting as a whole is really good for a film with such dark subject matter. The films violence builds as the film progresses with each new segment up the level torture and mayhem. The Joy of Torture is a melting pot of sleaze that has all the staples we have come to expect from exploitation films like incest, nuns, rape, genital mutilation, beheadings, crucifixions and various other forms of torture. Despite the disturbing images that are contained the film every frame has been carefully designed and beautifully photographed. Director Teruo Ishii has never been known for his subtleness or unwillingness to take on controversial subjects. His direction in The Joy of Torture is inspired with stand out moments being the films two main torture sequences that leave very little for the imagination with their go for the throat mentality. Overall The Joy of Torture is solid film that foreshadows the visceral style of cinema that would dominate most of the 1970’s.
Japan Shock’s Shogun’s Joy of Torture release is presented in a non-anamorphic letterboxed format that frames the image at approximately 2.35:1 which is the films original aspect ratio. Colors are above average and at times look muted. Flesh tones fare much better as they look healthy through out. The image varies in quality with some scenes looker sharp while other scenes look a bit soft then they should. There is some minor edge enhancement and grain is kept to a minimum. There is also some minor print damage in the form of specks of dirt and cigarette burns. Like many of Japan Shock’s previous releases Shogun’s Joy of Torture would have benefited from an anamorphic enhancement. This release comes with two audio options the films original Japanese language track and a German dubbed audio track. Both audio sources are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog sounds thin at times and the action sounds muffled. There is a noticeable hiss that is present through out, still nothing that ever becomes to distracting. English, Dutch and German subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow. This release is essentially a bare bones release that includes the following extras including Shogun’s Joy of Torture original trailer as well as trailers for other Japan Shock releases Inferno of Torture, Red Handcuffs and Yakuza’s Law. Rounding out the extras are four postcards that include poster art and images from the film. It is too bad that Japan Shock has dropped the ball when it comes to extras once again since it would have nice if they could have tried to get an interview with the films director Teruo Ishii who is not only still alive he is still directing films. Despite this release’s shortcomings Japan Shock should be commended for giving this rarely seen cinematic gem its first DVD release. Shogun’s Joy of Torture is film that makes no excuses or apologies as it accomplishes what is sets out to do with it brutal scenes filled with sadism and degradation, recommended.