One of my favorite films from Panik House’s 2005 Pinky Violence DVD Collection was Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess (Zubekô banchô: zange no neuchi mo nai, 1971), which was directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi for Toei and starred the strikingly cute Japanese actress and occasional pop idol Reiko Oshida. Not only was Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess one of the best looking films in the collection, featuring some truly impressive cinematography and direction, but I also really liked Reiko Oshida’s take on playing a bad girl trying to make good in the world. Unlike the other lovely and talented ladies that have starred in numerous pinky violence films such as Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, Reiko Oshida seemed to have a sense of humor about her roles and she always wore a sly grin on her face. Besides an occasional gratuitous panty shot, she also managed to keep her clothes on in all her films even when her co-stars were baring all.
This week Media Blasters released the first film in the Delinquent Girl Boss movie series called Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams (Zubeko Bancho: Yumei Wa Yoru Hiraku, 1970) on DVD and it’s my DVD Pick of the Week. Due to a rather loose script, the film doesn’t exactly pack the same powerful dramatic punch that Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess had, but the movie still features some really impressive visuals and great musical numbers that more than make up for the writing. Overall it’s a terrific addition to the slowly growing stable of pinky violence films now available on DVD in the U.S. and it’s sure to impress anyone who enjoys the work of the talented Japanese director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi.
Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams was Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s directorial debut and he also co-wrote the script for the film. Yamaguchi would go on to make other films in the Delinquent Girl Boss series and many other Japanese action films featuring tough female stars including the Wandering Ginza Butterfly series with Meiko Kaji and the Sister Street Fighter series with Etsuko Shihomi. I enjoy all of his his films, but I personally prefer the director’s Delinquent Girl Boss efforts, because I tend to favor the plots, as well as popular Japanese music, modern design and period fashions, which are often on display in these films.
Much like Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess, which was the fourth film in the series, Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dream opens with a small riot breaking out at a juvenile faculty for troubled young women. In the series Reiko Oshida plays an orphan named Rika who grew up in Yokohama. Rika is a rebellious 19 year-old struggling with her aversion to authority figures and her obvious urge to set things right whenever she feels injustices are taking place. After she’s released from the juvenile faculty she gets a job at a hostess club in Shinjuku where many of her fellow delinquents now work. The owner of the hostess club was once a delinquent herself, but she’s become a sort of surrogate mother to the girls who work at her club, as well as the lone male host who services gay clients there. Unfortunately things get complicated when some local yakuza start shoving their weight around and trying to gain control over her club. The yakuza are also selling drugs and managing their own group of tough ladies who act as drug pushers in the neighborhood. Throughout the course of the film Rika becomes somewhat of a vigilante in an effort to help her friends and her boss, but her conflicting emotions and hardened criminal background are often at odds. She’s a tough girl who knows how to take care of herself and put others in their place, but she’s also got a warm heart and clearly cares about her friends and their futures.
As I mentioned above, Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams seems to suffer a little thanks to the script, which was probably due to Kazuhiko Yamaguchi inexperience as a writer at the time. But the film also has some truly impressive moments, including a beautiful romantic beach scene between Reiko Oshida and her male co-star (Hayato Tani). It takes place among a bunch of huge cement structures resting on the sand and adds a dream-like quality to the film. The talented cinematographer Hanjiro Nakazawa should be co-credited for the amazing look of the Delinquent Girl Boss movies. Nakazawa worked with the acclaimed director Kinji Fukasaku on many of his best crime films including Sympathy for the Underdog (1971), Street Mobster (1972) and Graveyard of Honor (1975). He’s also partially responsible for the fantastic look of the Female Prisoner Scorpion films and he brings the same creativity to the Delinquent Girl Boss series. These films are a great showcase for Nakazawa’s dynamic color photography and director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s imaginative compositions. Both men had the ability to turn what could easily be considered a simple exploitive genre film into art.
Yamaguchi and Nakazawa also do an amazing job of capturing Shinjuko nightlife in the early seventies. The exterior shots of the city are really impressive and the psychedelic club scenes and musical acts featured in the film are stylishly shot and full of energy. I was thrilled to discover that the Japanese girl group Golden Half appears in Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams along with folk pop idol Keiko Fuji. Since I love Japanese pop music from this period, I really enjoyed the musical numbers even though Golden Half only performs their popular song Yellow Cherry (Kiroii Sakurambo), which happens to be the same song the group sang in Yasuharu Hasebe’s pinky violence film Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter. Both of the films were released in 1970, but they were made by different studios. Toei was responsible for the Delinquent Girl Boss series and Nikkatsu produced the Stray Cat Rock films, but both studios obviously wanted to cash in on the popularity of Golden Half at the time and their hit song.
Keiko Fuji sings the film’s memorable opening theme song and she has an interesting, but extremely small role in the film. Keiko Fuji was popular among some radical student groups in Japan, probably due to her ability to mix traditional enka style ballads with modern popular music. In the film she strums a guitar while singing a very traditional sounding song that seems to deeply touch the women working at the hostess bar. It’s a nice moment in the film and Keiko does a good with her brief part, but I wish she had been given a little more to do in the movie. I hope to write a bit more about the music featured in pinky violence films soon.
Besides the appearance of Keiko Fuji, the social and political commentary that can sometimes be found in pinky violence films seems rather lowkey here, but there are a few moments in Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams that I felt reflected the complicated power struggles going on between criminal men who liked to flex their muscles in postwar Japan and the independent women who were often forced to have business dealings with them. In an odd twist, the young female junkie in the film suffering horribly from drug dependency also has dyed blond hair and wears a dress emblazoned with the American flag. I have no idea if the director was trying to hint at America’ involvement in the underground drug market in Japan after WW2 or implying something even more subversive, but it’s possible. I also found it amusing that Reiko Oshida wears a kind of mod miniskirt version of a Native American Indian costume when she helps take down the bad guys at the end of the movie. It’s hard to overlook the possible anti-occupation sentiments in that small gesture.
The Delinquent Girl Boss series is really one of the highlights of the recent wave of pinky violence films being released on DVD. If you’re new to the genre or just curious about these types of Japanese films, the Delinquent Girl Boss movies make a great introduction to the genre since they’re creatively shot and tend to feature mild violence and eroticism.
Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams is available on DVD from Media Blasters on their Exploitation Digital label for $29.99 and it’s currently selling at Amazon for $26.99. The DVD features a nice looking anamorphic widescreen print of the film, as well as a photo gallery and the original trailer. As I mentioned above, the fourth film in the Delinquent Girl Boss series was released on DVD in 2005 from Panik House and it’s available as part of their terrific Pinky Violence Collection. Hopefully the second and thirdDelinquent Girl Boss films will find their way onto DVD soon. Thankfully the films in the series can be enjoyed individually and they don’t have to be watched in any kind of order, but I would recommend seeing Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams before Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless To Confess if you’re new to the series.
If you’d like to see more images from the film please see my Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams Flickr Gallery.
Also worth mentioning is the recent DVD release of Jess Franco’s Eugenie de Sade (1970) from Blue Underground, which was reviewed by Robert Monell over at I’m in a Jess Franco State of Mind. I haven’t had the opportunity to view it yet myself, but I’m looking forward to it.
I’m still compiling my Best DVDs of 2007 List and it’s taking me a bit longer to finish then I had expected, but I promise that I’ll be posting it here soon so keep an eye out for it!