Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 24th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1970
Director: Yasuharu Hasebe
Writers: Yasuharu Hasebe, Atsushi Yamatoya
Cast: Meiko Kaji , Nobuko Aoki, Tatsuya Fuji, Mie Hanabusa
DVD Released: June 22nd, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Home Vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A half breed named Kazuma comes to town in search of his lost sister Megumi, who he hasn’t seen since she was adopted by Mama Blues. Mako is the leader of an all-girl gang that often clashes with an all-male gang named the Eagles and their leader Baron is infatuated with Mako. The Baron’s hatred for Kazuma runs deeper than his relationship with Mako, years before his sister was raped by a half breed. Irritated that Mako and her gang have been helping a Kazuma, the Baron gets back at them by inviting them to a party where they are raped by the men at the party.
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is widely regard as the best film in the series and nowhere is this more evident than its multilayered plot which explores mix ethnicity. In many ways this film’s is about struggling to find’s one’s identity, even the Baron who has fixed prejudices is not without his own inner struggles. (Spoiler Alert!) This film’s ultimate moment of acknowledging who one is comes during its finale when Kazuma sister who for the whole film has refused to acknowledged his as her brother, she finally calls him. This moment is also bittersweet as right after she does this Kazuma shoots her and then kills himself. (End of Spoiler)
Another reason why this film holds up better than any other in the Stray Cat Rock series is that it marked the return of director Yasuharu Hasebe whose is arguably one of Nikkatsu’s most underrated talents. Where many of his contemporaries left Nikkatsu due to them shifting towards Pinku cinema. He remained and show that it was possible to retain a high level creativity and substance working with such highly erotic subject matter.
In Regards to Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter some of its standout moments visually include his use of soft focus cinematography, most notably when photographing Meiko Kaji and there are a handful of moments were he altered the ‘scope’ aspect ratio and presented the image in a catastrophic way that framed the image around 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Of course this film’s standout sequence is the scene where Mako returns to the apartment where her gang is being raped by the men who paid the Baron for their services. She ignites the place with Molotov cocktails.
Performance wise the entire cast are superb in their respective roles and though Meiko Kaji gives another outstanding performance. It is ultimately the performance of Tatsuya Fuji in the role of the Baron and Rikiya Yasuoka (The Executioner) in the role of Kazuma. It is their performances and characters pathos which drive this remarkable film.
Stray Cat Rock Sex Hunter is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with a 16:9 anamorphic transfer. The image is sharp and the colors are a tad muted. The night scenes and dark interiors exhibit quite a bit of grain still the transfer is right up there with most of American Cinematheque’s releases.
The only audio option on this DVD is the original Japanese Mono track and the sound is sufficient as all the action and dialog are easy to hear. The subtitles are easy to read and follow.
Extras included filmography for director Yasuharu Hasebe, the trailer, and the insightful liner notes by film critic Richard Kadrey. Other extras include a Zatoichi Collection promo trailer. Overall Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter gets a good audio / video presentation.