Three Japanese DVDs (Captive Files I, Paradise, and Operation: Pussycat)

dvd_captive.jpgDespite bearing the hallmarks of a low-budget production, Captive Files I effectively creates and maintains suspense, and includes enough soft porn scenes to satisfy devotees of that genre.







Three Japanese films recently made available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group offer Americans a chance to experience foreign films of a type unlikely to show up on the film festival circuit or at the local multiplex. Two of the three are examples of the pinku eiga ("pink film") genre of soft pornography, while the third is a parody of American sexploitation films of the ’60s. None are likely to be nominated for an Academy Award, but each offers a glimpse at aspects of Japanese popular culture not generally included in more mainstream films.

Captive Files I (Bio-Tide, unrated), directed by Tae-Gwan Kim, is the best made of the three films. It’s basically a psychological thriller which includes lots atmospheric sex scenes which include nothing too explicit or detailed. The story concerns a mail clerk (Kenichi Endo) who solves his girlfriend problem (which is that he doesn’t have a girlfriend, nor any prospects in the usual meaning of the term) by kidnapping an attractive university student (Kazuyoshi Ozawa). He’s read up on the "Stockholm Syndrome," in which captives becomes emotionally attached to their captors, and hopes to invoke this response by keeping her chained to a bed in his apartment (which he has soundproofed with egg crates), subjecting her to episodes of partial suffocation, and ordering her to compose stories featuring the two of them as characters. Despite bearing the hallmarks of a low-budget production, Captive Files I effectively creates and maintains suspense, and includes enough soft porn scenes to satisfy devotees of that genre as well.

Paradise (Bio-Tide, unrated), directed by Toru Kamei, is also in the pinku eiga genre. Erika (Shion Machida) is a beautiful but demanding anchorwoman campaigning for political office in an island district in rural Japan. Upset at falling behind schedule, she peremptorily orders Yohei (Hideo Sasaki) an amiable but passive fisherman, to hijack a motorboat to transport her back to the mainland. Instead, they run out of gas and find themselves marooned on an apparently deserted island, without means of communication or escape. The power balance shifts several times as they come to terms with their predicament, and no small amount of non-explicit, if occasionally violent, sex ensues as well. The plot is not entirely conventional, however, and incorporates several unexpected twists and turns as it leads to an ambiguous conclusion. Paradise also features outstanding cinematography which takes full advantage of the lush island setting.

Operation: Pussycat (Bio-Tide, unrated), directed by Ryuichi Honda, is a kitschy parody of American exploitation films of the 1960’s. The title as well as the overall style of this film refers to Russ Meyer’s 1965 "classic" of the genre, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  The story concerns a trio of bad-girl Charlie’s Angels types (Kei Mizutani, Nao Eguchi, and Yukari Fukawa) who set out to rob a wealthy landowner who keeps a local girl as his slave. There’s plenty of deliberately bad music, silly martial arts, and titillation, but not so much as a whiff of actual sex, and even a rapidly rising body count is passed off in a light-hearted manner. Note to self: When committing crimes, be sure to bring a really big tarp because you can’t be sure how many bodies it may ultimately have to conceal. If you’re a fan of bad movies, you will enjoy spotting the many references to other exploitation films; if not, you may simply find this one tedious. | Sarah Boslaugh

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