dressed like Zorro and she might cut you if provoked. She is the leader of the
Alleycats, an all-girl motorcycle gang, who should not be trifled with. Her impotent
street gang lover will find that out the hard way in Yasuharu Hasebe’s Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (trailer here), starring Meiko
Kaji, which screens as part of the Japan Society’s weekend retrospective, Cruel Beauty: A Romantic Weekend with Meiko Kaji.
is the third of five Stray Cat Rock movies,
so the characters are well-established by now, but not yet stale. As the film
opens, Mako and her running mates are rolling any square lech with money
foolish enough to buy them drinks. However, during a rainy interlude, Mako
meets and flirts with the mixed race Kazuma. Much to her surprise, she
genuinely likes the earnest lug, which automatically provokes the ire of her
pseudo-boyfriend, Baron, the anti-social leader of the Eagles gang.
Baron is a fighter, not a lover. Frankly, he is suspiciously undemanding of Mako,
preferring to spend his time bashing mixed race Japanese (whom he blames for
his sister’s assault years prior to the film), while reading lurid press
coverage of the Vietnam War. Baron will beat the snot out of Kazuma several
times during the course of the picture, but he never succeeds in running him
out of town. It is not Mako that makes him stay. Kazuma is looking for his long
lost little sister Megumi, who may or may not be a member of the Alleycats.
title is a bit overstated, but Sex Hunter
is definitely a ruckus little exploitation time capsule, fueled by Kaji’s
badassery as Mako and the groovy sounds of Hajime Kaburagi’s soundtrack and
frequent musical performances by the chart-topping girl group Golden Half. It
is definitely sleazy, but also politically informed—though not necessarily in a
way that aged well. Frankly, Baron’s anti-American-anti-imperialist-rooted
hatred of mixed-race Japanese now looks like psycho-jerky behavior with a
little distance and time (which is indeed a cautionary warning for our own
rhetorically overheated times).
a stone-cold street fighter, Kaji’s Mako is surprisingly sensitive and
vulnerable. She also rocks the black cape and wide-brimmed gaucho hat, while
developing some messily ambiguous but potent chemistry with Rikiya Yasuoka’s
Kazuma (whose incomparable credits include Tampopo
and Toxic Avenger Part II). Completing
the isosceles love triangle, Tatsuya Fuji plays Baron with such cold clamminess,
viewers will start to eagerly anticipate his death.
Cinematographer Muneo Ueda makes it all look
trippy and disorienting, as so befits its era. A wild ideological muddle
redeemed by its unapologetic payback violence, the third Stray Cat Rock outing is an effective representative of the
franchise and Kaji’s career. Enthusiastically recommended for exploitation
fans, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter screens
this Saturday (2/11) as part of the Japan Society’s Valentine’s Day weekend
tribute to Meiko Kaji (you won’t find any grey ties here).
Labels: Japan Society, Japanese Cinema, Meiko Kaji, Stray Cat Rock franchise