|Starring:||Asami Ogawa, Yōko Azusa, and Shigeru Ichiki|
|The Plot: Attack!! tells the story of a young female police officer named Kumiko (Asami Ogawa) who gets very little respect. Often harassed while on the job, she has numerous problems in her life. For one, she isn’t very open about her sexuality. She keeps everything bottled up and doesn’t let anyone else know that she accepts or enjoys sex. Second, she is afraid of confrontation. When men approach her in a sexual way, she becomes even more reserved than she normally is. As it turns out, both her fellow police officers and the criminals that she chases take advantage of this aspect of her personality. With all of these circumstances, Kumiko is about to have her life changed in the most unfortunate way possible. While driving in her police car, she has her vehicle rammed into a building by an unknown assailant. He demolishes the car by repeatedly slamming into it, but he isn’t done yet. He gets out of his car and proceeds to violate the young police officer. Having had her eyes and mouth covered with tape, Kumiko has no idea who assaulted her. She doesn’t report the crime to the authorities, but instead decides to take justice in her own hands. As she begins to search through the files of men who she has arrested previously, she finds that her attacker is a serial rapist and that he will be back again.
Just as can be expected from these movies, our lead character takes us through a narrative that can be seen as a wee bit on the episodic side. After her initial attack, our heroine begins her search for the criminal rapist who committed this horrible act, but nearly every man that she stumbles upon is having sexual intercourse. Yet, she does not approach these situations as a dignitary of the law, she approaches them as a mild person who simply wants to question these potential culprits. The reason for this? No one shows her any respect. As a woman in this society, her role is obviously much lower on the totem pole. She commands no authority over any man that she questions or speaks to. The only women who have some semblance of power are those who have control over their own sexual desires. In the previously-mentioned introduction, we meet Kumiko’s partner who has no problems writing a ticket for some man who had parked in an illegal area. Later, when Kumiko stumbles upon a group of young people having sex in a car (literally, two couples having sex), they don’t even bother to roll down their window. It’s just a woman, a tragically unhip woman at that. Later in the film, Yumiko is even further humiliated after being assaulted while in the police station restroom. Further pushing home the lack of respect within this society, but as Yumiko faces these horrors, we know that she will become stronger and more aware of her sexual presence. After her second assault, there is a striking scene that revolves around Kumiko taking a mirror and placing it on the floor so that she may see her own vagina. While she is at first stunned and ashamed by what she finds, she soon discovers her own eroticism. The scene is not so much one of arousal as much as it’s purpose is to focus on the growth of this character. This sort of solidification of a story arch was certainly missing from many other forays into this genre from Hasebe, but this open look at the situation helps give this title a bit more credence than some others within this catalog.
From a technical standpoint, there’s no getting past the flourishes and the artistic achievements from Hasebe with this film. Although this was the start of the eighties, and the big Japanese studios would soon be hurting in many ways, there’s still a ton of polish to be found in Hasebe’s final violent pink outing. There are many one-point perspective shots, a great use of foreground/background comparisons, and there is a stunning use of shadow on display. In a latter scene within the movie, after another assault sequence featuring Kumiko, she finds herself trapped in a dark room where only a handful of massive masks can be seen floating in the background. Aside from these glowing white masks, only Kumiko can be seen in the foreground. It is a shot of pure beauty left for the audience to enjoy in the wake of a truly ugly scene. Accompanying these beautiful shots and visual touches, Hasebe fills his soundtrack entirely with classical music. Opening the film with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Hasebe looks to create a dichotomy between the visuals on display and the audible surround. We see these horrible things, but are confronted with a beautiful and serene soundtrack that never force-feeds us the horror of what is going on. In the same way that this approach worked in the much-more-brutal Cannibal Holocaust, so do we get the same effect here. The random bits of classical music are completely at odds with the exploitation on screen, but due to the choices made by Hasebe and the very smart editing at play, it all still works quite well.