Genre: Nearly Hip Youth Sub-Culture Confusion
review in one breath
Mako and her female gang of Alleycats are still battling the wannabe bad-guys known as the Eagles, this time over the latter's desire to purge their town of "half-breed" war children. When the Eagles take things one step too far, they're faced with the Molotov cocktail wielding wrath of Mako and the well-armed Kazuma, the dark-skinned hunk searching for his long lost sister Megumi.
This film is SO generation-issue specific that it literally isolates itself from the hope of becoming anything more than an oddity to contemporary audiences.
This is the second of four "Stray Cat Rock" films all of which cast the sexy Kaji Meiko in the role of Mako, leader of the female gang known as the Alleycats. The first and last of these four were directed by Fujita Toshiya in 1970 and 1971 respectively. The current film and its sequel were both directed by Hasebe Yasuharu whose other work includes among many others Black Tight Killers (1966) and Female Prisoner Scorpion 701's Grudge Song (1973).
Although Kaji is indeed a convincingly tough heroine (and for that reason she will go on to play Matsushima Nami in all four of the Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion films and Kashima Yuki in the Lady Snowblood films) this narrative is so underwhelming and the poseur quotient so off the charts as regards the male characters here that the audience is more likely to spend their time trying to figure out what this is really all about rather than focusing of the knife wielding babe-ette Mako.
The brunt of the plot revolves around Baron, leader of the male gang known as the Eagles and his utter contempt of "half-breeds", children born immediately following the war through the marriage or relationship of US soldiers to Japanese women. And indeed an amazing variety of actual "half-breeds" are cast in this film only to be abused and terrorized by the increasingly annoying Baron.
First and foremost among these war children is Kazuma played by Yasuoka Rikiya who is in fact of mixed blood yet has gone on to have a truly amazing acting career in Japan. This role was only the third film in which he appeared, but he would go on to star in over 135 films, often with leading roles, the most recent of which is Miike Takashi's 2004 film IZO.
When a member of the Eagles gang realizes that his girlfriend has left him for a racially mixed man, Baron, the leader of the gang snaps, recalling the rape of his sister, and vows to rid their town of all such "half-breeds". Thus the gang sets out to harass and violently confront anyone, male or female, they suspect of not being of pure Japanese blood.
From the sidelines watch Mako and her female gang members, rather apathetically at first, but they too soon become involved when one of the girls in her gang becomes the subject to the Eagles' abuse after they learn she has been seeing one of their targets.
Torn between her secret love of Baron and the increasing disgust at the antics of the Eagles, Mako will inevitably be forced to take sides in an all or nothing fight for survival. And when she finally does decide to act, knives, guns and Molotov cocktails are only the beginning!
The narrative here is quite stretched and truly difficult to be absorbed into. I couldn't associate or empathize with any of the characters and more often than not found their actions to be dramatically flamboyant and rather inexplicable. The film contains some novelty, however, particularly in its effort to cast so many foreigners and a drug-fueled hippy-esque youth subculture. Even the psychedelic girl band in the night club is chocked full of Caucasian girls. But such bells and whistles will not be enough to float this story, 80% of which seems to have been shot in the middle of the night with little or no lighting.
My guess is that Fujita's original (and fourth?) "Stray Cat Rock" film was rather compelling and character driven, enough to warrant Hasebe's interest in using Mako for two films. But as is the case so often, sequels tend to rely wholly on the character development of the original and merely focus on quirky plot elements instead. Thus, in the end, this film really does not have the capacity to stand side by side with the many far better films in this same genre.
Version reviewed: Region 1 subtitled DVD available at all mainstream venues.
|Unusual look at the societal angst caused by bi-racial children following the war.||Plenty of gun violence alongside fisticuffs, knives, chains and abuse by jeep.||No nudity or sex, though rape is implied.||This film makes a valiant effort to depict a very toned-down psychadelic youth sub-culture with everything from go-go dancers to day-glo murals.|