In celebration of iconic Japanese actress Meiko Kaji's upcoming 70th birthday and Valentine's Day, Japan Society is throwing a mini retro party of the inimitable actress. Best known for her role as Nami "Sasori (Scorpion)" Matsushima in the Female Prisoner series and later as Yuki, the Lady Snowblood, Kaji dominated the exploitation-tinged 60s and 70s Japanese cinema.
Marc Walkow, the man mainly responsible for bringing the Female Prisoner series to Arrow for restoration and subsequent Blu-ray releases, and who helped release the Lady Snowblood series at Criterion, curates the selections for the occasion. They are:
New Battles Without Humanity: The Boss's Head, Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, Blind Woman's Curse & Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable
Please visit Japan Society website for tickets.
I had the privilege of sampling selections below in chronological order:
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970)
The third installment in the Stray Cat Rock series, Sex Hunter sees a female gang led by fedora donning Mako (Meiko Kaji) pitted against Baron (Tatsuya Fuji) and his cronies.
Sex Hunter examines the uneasy relationships Japanese have with Americans: Baron's generation enjoys American culture - cars, booze, cigarette & rock' n' roll - but wears the burden of feeling impotent and humiliation at the WWII defeat. Baron's misguided hatred for half-breeds 'taking our women' doesn't gibe well with Mako as she falls for Kazuma (Rikiya Yasuoka), a handsome half-breed drifter, looking for his long lost sister.
Kaji is just as charismatic in this as the no-nonsense gang leader who's not afraid of male intimidation and doesn't hesitate to throw molotov cocktails into the room full of men who wronged her sistas.
Saturday, February 11, 7 PM