Lady Hunter: Prelude to Murder

Year: 1991
 Takashi Miike
Rating: 5.0

Aka - Red Hunter: Prelude to Kill

Riki's mother hasn't come to pick him up from daycare so Ikehiro decides to take the boy home and leave a note for the mother. On the way his car is forced off the road and some men attempt to kidnap Riki. Ikehiro escapes with the boy though and decides to hold up with an ex-girlfriend. He is followed. Not just any ex-girlfriend though - Saeko (Yoshi Kashiwabara) and he were both in special forces and Saeko in particular has some major skills - having been sent all over the world on missions. She is also a bit paranoid and has her apartment booby trapped with electrical current. The ensuing firefight is well choreographed within this tiny space and a military like force outside trying to break in. Oddly, the cops never show up but there is a reason for that.

This is Takashi Miike's first film in 1991 (though apparently another film was released first) and it was shot for the straight to video market. This straight to video filmmaking was termed V-Cinema and it was hugely popular in the late 80s through the 90's. Well over 100 films a year were produced in this way and many of the Japanese directors later on became well-known who started off this way. Not just Miike who is so prolific it makes my head spin - he goes into the bathroom and comes out with a finished film - or it feels that way - but also such luminaries as Hideo Nakata (Ring), Kiyoshi Kurosawa and others. These tended to be genre films with action, crime and horror taking up a big chunk of them. The money behind them though came from the primary film companies with Toei diving into this market first. In a sense, they became what used to be called in America B films. Eventually, a number of these showed up on the shelves of American video stores.

Miike made about 20 of these - out of 104 credits - wait - probably 105 by the time I finish this and he hits on pretty much every genre with his very unique perspective. This first outing shows a lot of promise with I expect very little money. This is up on YouTube and as best as I can figure it is close to complete as it comes in at 79 minutes and 78 minutes is given on IMDB. If nothing much was cut, there is nothing here to indicate the extreme directions Miike would take later - just your basic Girls with Guns low budget flick. By the way, the video cover has absolutely nothing to do with this film. The You Tube video has English subs but they are very sporadic as they come and go like the tide - so I am sure I missed some of the intricacies of the plot - actually probably not! Ah, I read another reviews and apparently there is a quick scene when Saeko knocks out a female guard and ties her up naked (a nipple escapes the You Tube censors) with ropes like an S&M scene. The video shows the woman tied up but not the fight.