The Review: There are quite a few genres out there that I feel a degree of shame over my not having thoroughly delved into at this stage of my cult-film experience. The giallo is one, as a horror fan checking those out is kind of my duty and I’m desperately trying to rectify the situation. Another is the Pinky Violence subgenre of Japanese exploitation from the 70′s. Before this film here my only previous experience came from Female Convict Scorpion: Prisoner #701, which I liked but had maybe heard a bit too much hype going into it. So, not that it’s a bad film or anything like that – I think my expectations were so vastly different than what the actual film was that it left an odd impression on me. Since then, I really haven’t saught much out in the way of Pinky Violence. I just kept putting it off and putting it off, until I finally started dabbling back in the giallo genre. After that I figured, maybe it’s time to take on both and give myself a new course to study. So, I decided for my first foray into the wild I would start simple. I’ve heard a ton about Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, which seems to be the most popular of the series. I do own that flick as well, but still haven’t watched it. Rather than start in the middle of the series, like I did with Female Convict Scorpion, I decided to go with the first: Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss. I tell you, I’m glad that I did. Maybe everything aligned just perfect for me or maybe I finally had wiped my mind of whatever preconceived notions I might have had about this subgenre, but I absolutely ADORE Girl Boss. I was hooked in the first five minutes of the film when we’re introduced to the loner character of Ako (Akiko Wadda), who everyone mistakes for a man but is really just a tough loner chick with a serious chip on her shoulder. As she comes into frame, with full on animated FX making a circular outline around her, it is just readily apparent that this is going to be a “cool” picture; from that point on it does not let you down.
From the very beginning to the spectacular finale, Delinquent Girl Boss is a study on the definition of “cool”. From the over the top fashion to the depiction of this Japanese underbelly that is so inventive and stylish, that it simply couldn’t be real. People just aren’t this original in real life! For example you have Mei, played by the goddess of the genre Meiko Kaji, who dresses in some sort of native American looking outfit but looks just as natural holding a switchblade knife. She might also be caught sporting some massive tinted sunglasses to complete the look. She’s like a go-go dancing hipster gangster tomboy toughgirl. Such a diverse dichotomy is rare to find, but one that comes across so natural amidst her environment is just beyond impossible. The style and editing really sells Delinquent Girl Boss for me. It’s extremely fast paced for a genre flick of this variety, where usually you expect a more relaxed and intentional pace – like you would find in more arthouse fare as has been the case with much of the ‘exploitation’ fare I have experienced from Japan in the sixties and seventies. Not the case here, as the film basically grabs you by the small hairs and takes off running without giving you a moment to rest. I’ve already mentioned the little iris transition in the first moments of the film, but it’s not anything like your average iris effect (which is basically just a round ball that either gets smaller in the center of the screen, fading to black or the reverse of that going from black to the actual film image), this effect looks like some kind animated creation from construction paper or something like that. Even more outlandish is the color used, a super bright light blue that shouldn’t fit – but does! And does so well! This type of effect is duplicated in several portions of the film, where the animation is obvious but as a viewer you just sit back and say “yeah, that works” and more imporantly “holy crap, that’s cool”. Even for a movie made in 1970.
You can’t help but take a look at the eye candy on display here. Although this particular film doesn’t take part in much subjection of women as sex objects, I’m a hetero male and I can’t help but sit back and drool at the beauty of the women on display here. All class and beauty, Meiko Kaji is an obvious standout as the queen of everyone’s adoration. However, I might be crazy, but I kind of found myself drooling over Ako (Akiko Wadda), the tall drink of water tomboy who somehow fools everyone into thinking she’s a male somehow (totally outside of reality there!). Apparently Wadda is a famous figure in Japan as a singer and performer, particularly in this time and era. She even has a few scenes (as well as a song on the soundtrack) where she displays her sultry singing voice. I loved her performance here, not coming off as a singer trying her hand at acting. She really invests in her role and really comes across as one tough chick. This could be because she dwarfs over the rest of the petite girls in the cast, and looks very fine while doing it! I don’t know, just really dig her look in the film. However, there’s so much eye candy on display here you’ll get a sugar tooth… or would that be like a sugar retina? Either way, the point I’m trying to get across here is this: hot chicks doing really cool things. Does it really need to be dumbed down any further than that? Well, how about I take it back to a hopefully more academic level? The camera work in the film fluctuates between varrying styles, from handheld to magnificent crane and dolly work as it runs the gamut of just what can be done in order to continue the oozing of “cool” from the pores of the cinematic spectrum. Director Yasuharu Hasebe did an excellent job at crafting a story that was diverse in techniques but solid in it’s collection so as not to become odd. There are some great handheld shots on the streets of Tokyo that set you in the midst of this world that suddenly becomes so real, then there are the frenetic bits during the boxing match sequence that take on a similar brutal and realistic style that Scorsese managed in Raging Bull, but are certainly not in any kind of environment related to that.
The “cool” factor in the film almost seems postmodern for the actual contemporary timeframe it is set in. It all almost seems retro because of how out of the ordinary the style it is. It’s just so over the top that this seems like something that might be made in this day and age in order to “capture” a time frame, however you just have a hard time imagining fashion like this on the street! I can’t help but think of The Warriors to a degree, in terms of the fashion mostly but I have to say even in terms of the plot there’s even some degree of resemblance. Especially in the last act when our lead characters find themselves in a hot spot and are forced to sneak around Tokyo whilst in hiding. It beat The Warriors to the punch by quite a few years, but I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking that the films are identical, it’s simply an observation and more a feeling I got from the movie. Another thing I feel I should probably expound upon is the lack of sexuality used in order to promote the film. My first instinct, based upon the American system would be that perhaps famous singer Akiko Wadda wouldn’t want to be involved in anything too sleazy – but then again, she’s portraying a homosexual character here so I find that unlikely. It simply had to be a choice in the fact that there’s really very little in regards to nudity in the feature, unlike much of what else the genre has pumped out and promoted. There is one sequence that really pushes the envelope as far as sex and violence goes, in a bit where one girl has her breasts exposed (while still wearing her bra I should note) and a blowtorch taken to them. It’s a little odd within the film, but it’s another part of that over the top mixture that simply makes sense somehow. The same can be said about the Motorcycle Vs. Dune Buggy chase sequence in the lead up to the climax. We actually have both vehicles doing slaloms around poles in the subway. It’s incredibly silly, but it inspires so much fun! It grows more and more ridiculous as it goes along, with the puzzled faces of Japanese citizens looking on at the peculiar sequence taking place before them, you just can’t help but have fun with something like this!
Although it has been a while since I’ve done it, I really can’t help but give Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss a perfect rating. I won’t say everyone will get the same thing out of it that I did but I really can’t think of anything in it that I would change or didn’t enjoy. It was easily one of the easiest watches I have ever had and what I think grabs me the most is the fact that, sure, this might be an exploitation flick due to the hyperstylized presentation and some of the genre staples – but this film has a heart. There’s a brain at work here, with definite feminist overtones and female empowerment being central issues. There’s a lot of character development at work here and we grow to really enjoy the company of these people in this short amount of time. Everyone from Kerry (the boxer), Mei, Michio (Mei’s troubled boyfriend) to Ako. Each has their own very different set of issues at work and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of it. I can not stop recommending this one. For fans of Japanese cinema or simply exploitation film fans looking to get into the Pinky Violence genre, this is a great starting place. Take it from personal experience!