Quick Draw Okatsu | Varied Celluloid

Quick Draw Okatsu

Posted by Josh Samford On February - 18 - 2012

Quick Draw Okatsu (1969)
Director: Nobuo Nakagawa
Writers: Kôji Takada
Starring: Junko Miyazono, Reiko Oshida, Reiko Ônobuta and Kô Nishimura

The Plot: A sequel in name only, this entry into the Legends of the Poisonous Seductress series introduces the audiences to a brand new leading character. This time out, Junko Miyazono plays the young and beautiful Okatsu, who is an adopted member of a very strong swordsman school. She takes after her adopted father much more than her half-brother Rintaro, who doesn’t want to have anything to do with his biological father’s school. When Rintaro decides that he has had enough, he runs away from home in order to be with his now-pregnant girlfriend Saki. When he attempts to earn money for his new life, he ends up in a crooked gambling den where he is hustled into a massive debt. While in this den, he is introduced to Rue (Reiko Oshida). Rue is acting as a thorn in the side of the evil government officials who run the gambling den, and whom she feels has perverted the local government. As it turns out, though, this gambling-debt scheme was a preconceived plot by the evil official Shiozaki so that he may finally take Okatsu as his lover. His goal turns out to be hoisting Rintaro with this massive debt, and forcing Okatsu and her father to be liable for the money. When this madman inevitably gets what he wants and tortures the beautiful Okatsu and kills her father, he unleashes the scorn of this powerful young woman and her revenge will be ferocious.

The Review
Oh my, what a difference one year makes? Although, under normal circumstances, it doesn’t seem as if one year makes a drastic change to the cinematic landscape, but the differences between the first Legend of the Poisonous Seductress film and this second title are like night and day. The very first thing that audiences will notice is the sudden shift into the world of color photography. With the first movie, which was shot in black and white, there was a definite sense of cinematic style to be felt, but it didn’t have the instant visual appeal of a pinky violence film. Yet, here we are one year later, and this next film delivers a cinematic visual sensation that immediately reminds the audience of their favorite “bad girl” genre. Even better, while the first movie never showed Junko Miyazono’s character as a martial artist, instead using her feminine wiles over any direct physical confrontation, this sequel adds to that and shows the character of Okatsu as a martial arts leading lady who runs through all of her male opponents. This certainly seems more fitting for the genre, and while still made in the 1960s, this is certainly one of the earliest movies to truly seem identical to Toei’s future world of Girl Bosses.

If the first movie wasn’t immediately distinguishable as a piece of early pinky violence cinema, then this second movie certainly becomes a more obvious fit for the genre. Although the implementation of Reiko Oshida, known for the Delinquent Girl Boss series, would be an obvious reason that this movie might seem a better fit for the genre, everything about it seems to scream pinky violence. A precursor to the much more exploitative Sex & Fury, these Legend of the Poisonous Seductress movies show off a sense of female empowerment, as well as the attitude and demeanor, that one expects from these movies, but sets the action within the distant past. Although I would hardly consider it action packed, it would be wrong to consider the film anything less than a action title in comparison to the much more atmospheric prequel. When Junko Miyazono and Reiko oshida are both hacking and slashing their way through a myriad of samurai thugs, this movie certainly seems to belong to the world of action cinema as much as any other traditional samurai title.

While these Poisonous Seductress films may be viewed primarily as a catalyst for better things that were to come from the pinky violence genre, I am a firm supporter of this series due to its own merit. Relying less on overly exaggerated stereotypes or wild sexual exploitation, these films instead deliver some very strong performances and feature awesomely scripted stories rife with intrigue and horror. A prime reason that these hellish stories seem to work, and hellish they most assuredly are, is due to the excellent performances from Junko Miyazono. A actress who isn’t so well known here in the states, these movies are her biggest tickets to fame in the West. In the original film, as well as this sequel, Miyazono plays her character as someone who has a very direct arch and path that she must follow. Beginning the story as a believably naive young woman who hasn’t had to endure a tremendous number of hardships in the world, in both films we watch as the world seems to lump one punishment on top of the other for this poor character. Although the first movie was brutal on the audience emotionally, this sequel takes things even further. This time around we watch as both her father and her brother are murdered in brutal fashions, and then both she and her sister-in-law are sold into sexual slavery. Although these movies do avoid excessive nudity and exploitation in that regard (although they do love some violence), they are far from soft on the audience. As you grow to sympathize with the character of Okatsu, the story brutalizes its audience. Indeed, she is put through hell throughout this movie.

Reiko Oshida, who had the finest legs in all of Japanese cinema, is here playing one of the strongest characters throughout the entire series. The character of Rue is the sort of over-the-top hero that audiences may not be able to identify with on a personal basis, but totally wish that they could be (or be with, whichever the case). She is easily one of the most adept towards the action scenes within the cast, but she still remains incredibly sexy despite her athleticism. Featuring the shortest skirt in all of samurai cinema, Oshida is far too stunning for audiences to ever dare try to ignore. Not that Junko Miyazono isn’t quite lovely herself, but there’s no question that she never comes across as being as comfortable with the action as Oshida most certainly does. Her movements are always a little stilted in comparison. Yet, as an actress, there is simply no comparison. Saddled with a tremendous amount of drama, Miyazono acquits herself quite well in this role. Where some others might fall directly into melodrama, Miyazono seems to catch the perfect balance for her character so that she comes across as having both depth and a great amount of hidden power.

The Conclusion
Although Female Demon Ohyaku may have been more harsh in its tone, due to its stark black and white photography, Quick Draw Okatsu strikes back with a more traditional atmosphere. This one certainly hits below the belt on occasion, but it also brings in some of the fun that the pinky violence genre was known to deliver. Showcasing numerous short skirts, and a great number of action sequences, this is a movie that certainly delivers the entertainment. Absolutely worth checking out, it gets a four out of five.

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  • Risingson
    Another stellar review Josh. You encapsulated very succinctly why the sequel is a must see for fans of the “pinky violence” genre. I also definitely concur about Reiko Oshida & her legs! Also yet another movie featuring character actor, Akira “Ko” Nishimura, this time playing Okatsu’s father. He’s sort of the “poor man’s version” of Tetsuro Tamba isn’t he? I guess the big difference between the two is that he’s always played the supporting role. Has he ever been the lead before? The only film I can recall him being the main protagonist was Kurahara’s noir-ish blackmail film, “Intimidation” but it’s been a while since I’ve seen it to be certain.
  • Anonymous
    Thanks man! Oshida just blows my mind! She has to be the curviest of all the pinky violence starlets. As far as Nishimura, your guess is probably better than mine! The biggest role I remember him from is in The Bad Sleep Well. No idea if he ever had any/many leading roles, but he had a perfect face for supporting roles. Those cheekbones!
  • Risingson
    Ah yes, I totally forgot about Nishimura in The Bad Sleep Well & yeah, he’s really good actor even if he will be forever remembered for being cast in supporting roles. One of my fave Nishimura roles was as Hanzo’s superior in the Hanzo the Razor series. He was great as the smarmy & unctuous Magobei the “Snake” & I enjoyed him hamming it up for that role.
  • Anonymous
    Hahahaha! I totally forgot about him in Hanzo! He is such a worm in that series, haha. Yeah, he was great. A very diverse actor. Just looking at the parallels between the stoic and prideful character he plays in Okatsu, in comparison the weak-willed putz that he played in the Hanzo series, shows that with gusto. The guy had some range, and you could believe him in any role!
  • Risingson
    Yep, you’re totally right about that. He really is quite a versatile actor. If you get a chance, check out Kurahara’s “Intimidation.” He plays a pusillanimous pushover in that film but all is not as it appears as the movie ends with quite a twist. Criterion released an Eclipse series Kurahara box set last year but that movie is available streaming on Hulu like the majority of the Criterion Collection & also on VEEHD as well. I really enjoyed it. I got mixed up earlier because I said it’s been a while since I’ve seen it but the movie I was referring to was not “Intimidation” but Nomura’s “Zero Focus” which also starred Ko Nishimura & is a similar type film. It’s also a pretty solid movie & was remade a couple years ago but I’ve not yet had the chance to see the remake version.
  • Anonymous
    I’ll definitely search out both films sometime soon. Unfortunately, I don’t have Hulu +. Jon does, however, and he has been tearing through the Keisuke Kinoshita library that they have posted on there. Going back to the idea of “films to watch” lists growing longer… I still have so many DVDs lying around here that I need to get to, but I also have five or six screeners that I need to plow through. Too many movies, too little free time 🙂




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