I was tickled pink to ponder that this piece of pinky violence was piloted by Nobuo Nakagawa. A godfather of Japanese horror, Nakagawa’s talents spread beyond just the horror genre. Besides, his horror movies weren’t mere horror movies. They were quality pieces of cinema in themselves. “Jigoku” is a gem of arthouse darkness. Here we see Nakagawa turn his tricks to the pinky violence genre (sex and a female lead as strong as the violence). As with the first installment in the LEGENDS OF THE POISONOUS SEDUCTRESS franchise (not Nakagawa, but brilliant), the violence is more explicit than the sexuality. In fact, while there was a small bit of actual onscreen nudity in “Female Demon Ohyaku”, there is no nudity in QUICK-DRAW OKATSU. The sexual component is present in the form of rape, on of the motivations for revenge. As for the violence, it is at times briefly very graphic, but the film’s matter-of-fact approach makes even the most wicked of scenes – some of the violence is the psychological horror of the threat of violence, btw – tremendously effective in an intelligent way. Forget torture porn. Moving on … Junko Miyazono returns as the lead badass babe, though she plays a different character here, the “quick-draw” swordswoman Okatsu, than she did in “Female Demon”, where she was the equally kick-ass Ohyaku. The motives for revenge are similar: intimate, heinous abuse by those in power. My reviews lately have sufficiently, I hope, hammered home the fact that “exploitation” needn’t mean lack of cinematic quality. This is no exception. But I’d also like to point out that this stands next to “I Spit On Your Grave” (though OKATSU is a superior film) as an example of cinema mistaken as misogynistic that is in fact female-empowering. An open-minded, thinking viewer can’t help but see the overt feminist tones of OKATSU and the other pinky violence films I’ve reviewed here – though I can’t speak for the genre in its entirety since I may be viewing the good examples of this specific niche of Japanese cinema. The men tend to be the enemies, rude, evil, grasping, lecherous knaves; the exceptions stand as examples of good manhood. For example, in OKATSU, the main character’s brother doesn’t fit into the samurai society of his clan because swordsmanship isn’t natural to him. Read: He’s a peaceful-hearted man. Read deeper: He means no violence toward women. He is a good man. And Okatsu is, obviously, feminine strength. The film also excels in craftsmanship. Besides good acting and a story I’m sure you can discern as good based on my preceding words, there is Nakagawa’s way of staging scenes, and his marvelous sense of visual composition. While OKATSU lacks the psychedelic supernaturalism that strongly marks Nakagawa works like “Jigoku” and “Snake Woman’s Curse”, it still exhibits vividly Nakagawa’s excellent filmmaking abilities.
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