Savage Witches World PremiereSeptember 19, 2012
Babes, Bullets and Blaxploitation: A Coffy retrospectiveSeptember 27, 2012
By Bradley Tuck and Melanie Mulholland
The other week we had the wonderful experience of watching Sex and Fury, a Japsploitation film starring Reiko Ike and Directed by Noribumi Suzuki. This film is a full on eye buffet and not simply for the abundance of nudity and violence. One of the things that makes this film so visually stunning is the way it captures movement; the swing of a sword is no longer just a swing of a sword, it is an earth-shattering plethora of spraying blood, scornful eyes and 70’s psychedelic echoing sound effects cutting between flying blades and limbs. In one scene, Reiko Ike, in the role of Ochô Inoshika, is attacked while she is in the bath. She leaps out and takes on the fight, completely naked, which appears almost as a dance as she runs, spinning and turning, dicing her opponents with effortless skill. As they move out into the garden we see her feet glide through the snow as arms, bodies and blood falls at her feet. These scenes are so powerful the style has been borrowed many times throughout popular culture, most notable Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill.
This certainly isn’t just sex and violence, although both feature heavily, or maybe we should say instead that sex and violence is weighted with a subtlety, beauty and poetry rarely seen in those US blast-em-to-pieces films. In one scene we see the death of two lovers in a shoot out. At one point the girl is shot in the heart. The blood pours dramatically over her hand beneath the necklace containing a picture of her and her lover, her hair billows in the wind as she collapses in slow motion. It is almost as if time is slowed right down and we are able to really get a sense of the tragedy of the scene unfolding. What is so delightful about the film is that realism is not the main goal, but rather to use the effects and the camera to really give us a sense of the feeling, emotion and poetic sense of the story. This isn’t just an action film, this is a theatrical extravaganza!
The seventies certainly saw the rise of the rough tough female hero, I am also reminded of Pam Grier in Coffy. These women were vengeful, violent and could easily outwit the men around them with their physical ability and their minds. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t sex objects at the same time, but this was a real shift in how women were portrayed. Sex and Fury merges the Hollywood and Exploitation film style with the beauty of a Japanese painting, with a way of conveying movement and colour very particular to Japan. They just don’t make ’em like they used’ta.