Coming Tuesday July 14th from Arrow Video is the ‘Stray Cat Rock: The Collection;’ All five films, ‘Delinquent Girl Boss,’ ‘Wild Jumbo,’ ‘Sex Hunter,’ ‘Machine Animal,’ and ‘Beat ’71,’ in one incredible box set that coined the genre term “Pinky Violence.”
In ‘Delinquent Girl Boss,’ Meiko Kaji (star of all 5 films) is Mei, the leader of an all girl gang who runs afoul of the Seiyu Group when they go after one of their girls who was captured by the Seiyu Group. Mei’s boyfriend, Michio, an aspiring member of the Seiyu Group, tries to convince his boxer friend, Kelly, to throw his title fight in order to be initiated. When Kelly decides to win at the last minute, the Seiyu Group takes Michio and beats him, but Mei’s gang rescues him, putting the Seiyu Group on the hunt for Michio and the girls. While Meiko Kaji is considered the star, Akiko Wada’s Ako steals the show as the film’s true badass. With an acid rock soundtrack, fun freeze frames, color injection, ‘Delinquent Girl Boss’ is easily one of the best of the series.
‘Wild Jumbo’ follows a small gang, The Pelican Club, just out to have a little fun, make a little money, and cause a little mischief. They shoot out the tire of Akiko’s (Bunjako Han) car, who they believe is in love with Taki (Takeo Chii), and take her back to their place. After some shirtless dancing by 3 of the men, Taki comes in, sees the girl, and is not amused. One of their ilk, Debo (Soichiro Maeno) has been mysteriously digging for something on school grounds for days. Taki runs into Akiko again where she discloses that she is the mistress of the executive of the Seikyo Society, a new wave religious order, and that she wants the Pelican Club to rob them of 30 million yen. Debo ends up digging up some WWI era guns and suddenly, all the pieces for the heist fall in to place, but the results are not what they hoped for. This film features a sort of wild west music for the Pelican Gang infused with some funky jazz and acid rock. The action is frantic and Debo’s unnatural love for guns is amusing, and although Meiko Kaji is a draw for this film, she is more of a supporting character. ‘Wild Jumbo’ is easily one of the top films of the series in terms of action, story, and acting and has more of a western style.
It wasn’t until the 3rd film in the series, ‘Sex Hunter,’ that Meiko Kaji lived up to her badass potential. As the leader of her all girl gang, she asserts her authority with a belligerent member through a knife fight. Afterwards, Mako (Kaji) lays down and a mysterious dark man, Kazuma (Rikiya Yasuoka) walks down the road, singing. His voice seems to enchant Mako and they start talking. He explains he is looking for his sister. There is also an all male gang called “The Eagles” that appear to be the main drug dealers in the town that the girls associate with. Susumu (Jiro Okazaki), 2nd in command of the Eagles is dating one of the girls, Mari, but she has fallen in love with Ichiro, who happens to be half black and half Japanese. Susumu reports to Baron (Tatsuya Fuji) who goes into a rage and wages war on all “half-breeds” in the town stating that they are taking all the women and must be kicked out. Mako doesn’t take to kindly to this and wages her own war to protect her friends. ‘Sex Hunter’ has the most feeling of the series and is my personal favorite simply for the fact that it is more grounded in reality and still socially relevant today.
Meiko Kaji continues her reign of badassery as Maya in ‘Machine Animal,’ which has a strong opening where her girls are beating up two guys that apparently messed with them. Then she and her gang jump on the bikes of the Dragons, their gang’s male counterparts, who happen to be big time drug dealers, and harass two guys, Nobo (Tatsuya Fuji) and Sabu (Jiro Okazaki) having car trouble, who just so happen to be in town to move 500 hits of acid so they can smuggle their Viet Nam war-resister friend, Charlie (Toshiya Yamano) out of the country. They get ripped off by a few girls from Maya’s gang and she gets the drugs back for them with apologies and decides to help them out. Maya seeks the help of her male counterpart, Sakura (Eiji Go) who decides to take matters into his own hands, per his ruthless boss, Yuri (Bunjaku Han), that results in a bloody brawl.
The final entry into the ‘Stray Cat Rock’ series, ‘Beat ’71,’ is the weakest film of the set, as Kaji has lost her badass appeal in this one and the gang is a small time hippie group. Furiko (Kaji) is playing with her boyfriend, Ryumei when they are attacked by a group of thugs. Ryume knifes one of them to death and is captured, leaving Furiko with the murder weapon to go down on a murder charge. It is revealed that Reyumei is the son of a powerful yakuza boss who is unhappy that his only son left the business to become a hippie drifter. Furiko escapes from prison with her sister to find Reyume and has her sister join back up with their friends, who end up looking tracking Furiko back to the Boss’s town where the explosive final battle takes place.
All five of these films are entertaining to some degree, some more than others and some less. All feature the same revolving Nikkatsu stable except for Jo Shishido. The three films, ‘Delinquent Girl Boss,’ ‘Sex Hunter’ and ‘Machine Animal’ were helmed by Yasuharu Hasebe, while ‘Wild Jumbo’ and ‘Beat ’71’ were helmed by Toshiya Fujita. All feature a similar style with saturated colors, funky music, and wild angles.
The films look great in 1080p with rich colors and sound and this is a must own set for fans of the series, or Nikkatsu collectors.
- Limited Edition Blu-ray (3000 copies only)
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of all five films in the Stray Cat Rock series
- Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
- New English subtitle translation of all five films
- Interview with Yasuharu Hasebe director of Delinquent Girl Boss, Sex Hunter and Machine Animal
- Interview with actor Tatsuya Fuji, star of all five films
- Interview with actor Yoshio Harada, star of Beat ’71
- Original Trailers
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp