The Delinquent Girl Boss Series

Delinquent Girl Boss - Blossoming Night Dreams (1970) - 6.5

Aka - Zubekô banchô: Yume wa yoru hiraku

Aka - Tokyo Bad Girls

Towards the end of the 1960s in Japanese film there was the beginning of a move towards more female action oriented characters who carried the films. The Red Peony Gambler with Junko Fuji series began in 1968, The Crimson Bat series with Yoko Matsuyama began in 1969 and The Poisonous Seductress Okatsu trilogy with Junko Miyazono started in 1968. Before that there were the films of  Hibari Misora who at times took on action roles but the films were fairly gentle and she would often break into a song. But the 1970's brought on a rabid gush of female oriented action films but many were very different from what had come before.

These were bad girls, delinquents, gangs, thieves, sexually active women who would spit glass at you and take no crap. These films were termed Pinky Violence and it is its own genre. Some of them are the Delinquent Girl Boss series, The Terrifying Girl's High School films, the Girl Boss films, the Stray Cats films, Girl's Junior High School series, The Rica trilogy, the Female Prisoner films and a number of standalone films like Sex and Fury and Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. Hard keeping them straight. For the most part these films were released by two  studios - Toei and Nikkatsu - and by the end of the decade the genre had fizzled out with only brief low budget attempts like The Zero Women series. I have only seen a handful of these so far - a few of the Female Prisoner films, Red Handcuffs and this one. Yet I have a lot of them but have kept putting them off till now.

This one is the first in a series of four films - I think with some recurring characters and actors - but having seen only this one I can't be sure. It was actually much milder than I was expecting - more pop style than exploitation. There are glimpses of naked breasts, tough words exchanged, a couple fights between women, drugs, a pagan orgy, bottles broken, a lot of sass given and pawing by old horny perverts. Until the finale I have had tougher brush-ups when I was in elementary school. But it looks great - the clubs, the bars, the women, the psychedelic lights, the fashions, the curled lips. All imbued with a great color scheme. It is actually more a drama that if you had subtracted certain elements could easily have been a Hibari film with her playing the tough Boss of the small bar. 

It begins in Akagi Girl's School for delinquents - considered the toughest one in the country - the hard cases. A fight breaks out in the lady's bath room with some flashes of nudity between Rika - 19 in for inflicting bodily harm and Oharu - 18 in for blackmail as the screen informs us. Rika is played by Reiko Oshida and Ohara by Junko Natsu. A year later Rika is out working in a laundry but the owner tries to get a bit friendly when she is sleeping so out she goes and runs into four girls who work for the gangster Mr. Ohba. a caricature of a goofy bad guy with his glasses and moustache. The girls intend trouble so Rika does the classic Yakuza introduction of getting on a knee and telling them where you are from - in the background is a poster of Ken Takakura with sword and tattoos on full display. That doesn't work so Rika has to beat them up. More comedic than violent.

She ends up at a small bar in Shinjuku where it turns out that it is old school week - all the girls including the owner are proud graduates of Akagi. Their job is just to entertain men and get them to drink - the expensive stuff and allow the men a little touch and feel before they go home to their wives. The Boss is played by Junko Miyazono, from the Okatsu films. She is like a mother hen taking care of her girls. The girls bond. Trouble comes their way from Mr. Ohba who wants the land the bar is on. It turns out that Oharu is one of his girls and you know she and Rika will mix it up again. Slowly the tension builds up to the inevitable bloodbath that has to come. Look for the female singer in the bar - she is the terrific Enka singer, Keiko Fuji.

Delinquent Girl Boss - Tokyo Drifters (1970) - 6.0

This is the second in the Delinquent Girl Boss films (4 of them) and the girls are back in town. At the end of the first film they were all on their way back to jail but a bad girl can't stay down. By the end of that film I had grown rather fond of the whole gang from Rika the leader to Mari in for bodily harm to Choko in for fraud to the transvestite to the chicken boyfriend of Choko and a couple of others. Sure they had committed their share of crimes by the end - murder being one - but they have good hearts and are fiercely loyal to one another. In that first one, I mentioned that I was surprised at how tame it was compared to what I was expecting in a Pinky Violence film. With this one I thought I went through the wrong door because it is even less violent and less tawdry. More a comedy really then a Yakuza Bad Girl slap up - until the final twenty minutes when all hell breaks loose. But taking it on those terms I rather enjoyed this.

To a large degree it is a close copy of the first film with a few changes in personnel and the Boss. The girls are in Akagi again and a STD doctor wants to check them out for his own gratification - "show your tits" he says to the reluctant Mari and the girls all gang up on him and strip him. Fun and games - but Mari tells them she is pregnant and the warden won't let her talk to her boyfriend about whether she should get an abortion. So they naturally stage a group prison break just to get Mari out. And like the first one it jumps to a year later (very light sentences in Japan apparently) and Rika (Reiko Oshida) is out and has a job that she soon gets fired from for not allowing the manager a few favors. Back on the street she gets talked into working for a woman named Gaseranko fifth generation Gasetora Clan who runs a street vendor cart. She and Rika do the formal Yakuza introduction which is lovely and soon Rika is on the street selling corn and protecting her spot from the Kuroe Yakuza Clan with a few well-placed kicks.

Rika keeps running into other graduates of Akagi and they come aboard and its like a family. But for reasons I never fully understood  Kuroe wants her business and keeps pushing - getting suppliers to stop selling to her, harassing her and then getting violent - too violent. In a very cool scene the six girls adorn bright red trench coats and march down the streets of Shinjuku to the club of Kuroe. Sweep into his office full of thugs, whip off the trench coats in unison and pull out the blades. It is time to rumble. It is time to die. It is rather lovely.

The director of all four of these is Kazuhiko Yamaguchi who was one of the better pulp directors in Japan at this time - Wandering Ginza Butterfly films, the Karate films with Sonny Chiba, the Sister Street Fighter films - but these four were the films he started with. They are fun, colorful and Reiko Oshida as the main star is a delight with these moony eyes that you could swim in - but for those hoping for real sleaze, sex and shock, look elsewhere. At least so far. The endings of both films show though that he has it in him to make some good action films but he seems reluctant to really make a full commitment to it. That certainly comes in his later films though.

Delinquent Girl Boss - Ballad of Yokohama Hoods (1971) - 7.5

I return for another helping of Delinquent Girl Boss - the adventures of Rika - in this the third of four in the series. These films are so up my alley as silly as they are. Girl gangs, gnarly Yakuza's and a basket full of cool. Like the first two it is more a bad girl melodrama of friendship and female bonding than a Pinky Violence film, but it worked wonderfully well for me. This one has no nudity and saves most of the killing till the end as did the others. Many Yakuza and Samurai films of the 1960's were structured this way - a slow build up to the bloody finale. Clearly, these types of films are not for every one - is it Girl Power or Girl Exploitation? In this case I would say Girl Power because the exploitation factor is negligible and the women take on the Yakuza. It has pop style in spades.

I love the introductions that Rika always gives in the Yakuza manner. Here she meets up with the man who brought her up after her parents died. She gets on one knee and outstretches her arm.

"I was rebellious even as a baby.

I didn't have parents.

I don't hate my life but I don't receive much affection from others.

When I was in Akagi the only thing on my mind was Yokohama's salty wind.

Rika the Unruly is back."

Yes she is.  Rika is basically a good kid who wants to go straight but like Zatoichi, no matter where she goes trouble follows.

At the end of the second film with dead bodies strewn around like  pricked balloons after a New Year's Eve celebration, it looked like Rika (Reiko Oshida) might get lucky and not be picked up by the cops. No such luck. The third one begins with her on the way back to Akagi Juvenile Prison again where she is welcomed by all her old friends - but now the Girl Boss is Mon who looks like she eats glass shards for breakfast. They immediately size one another up like a cobra and a mongoose and later go at it with the fight called a draw when security breaks it up. A year later Rika is back on the streets - it seems the maximum penalty for killing about 20 Yakuza is one year. Instead of Tokyo, she goes back to her hometown Yokohama that is being run by a nasty faced Yakuza named Nakao (Asao Koike) who must sneer even when he is sleeping. The actors for all the Yakuza heads in these three films must have been found in a Slime and Ugly store.

Her male friend Tsunao - who introduced her in the first film to the small bar - is running a porno store but being harassed by the Z Gang - a female motorcycle gang clad in bright red leather with a ferocious scowl written across their faces with pride. Totally cool but more bark than bite. I have met girl scouts selling me cookies who intimidated me more. And heading the Z's? Mon of course attired in a black gunslinger oowboy hat and a bull whip as an accessory. She says hello by throwing a knife to break up a toast. She wants to finish that fight they started in Akagi. But not today. They work for Nakao who among other entrepreneurial ventures has begin to sell girls to Hong Kong. As expected things slowly crank up between Rika and Nakao leading to the predictable but always satisfying death match.

Delinquent Girl Boss - Worthless to Confess (1971) - 7.5

You would think by the final film in this four film series that the underworld would have learned its lesson. How many dead Yakuza does it take? The word should have gotten around. Don't fuck with Rika. Don't insult her. Don't block her way on the sidewalk. Don't throw sexual come-ons in her direction. Just don't talk to her. And definitely don't kill a friend of hers. I enjoyed this series a lot and am sorry to see it end though admittedly they are all basically the same film with mild variations. They found a formula they liked and stuck with it. Rika goes to prison, gets out of prison, tries to lead a normal life, the Yakuza go after a friend of hers and the inevitable bloodbath follows.

After mowing down multiple bad guys at the end of the last film, Rika is back at Akagi serving her normal one year sentence. She and the rest of the girl prisoners are watching one of the Abashiri Prison films with Ken Takakura. Since his poster was displayed in the first film, I take it the director was a fan. As was pretty much everyone in Japan at the time. A year later she is out again and returns to Tokyo. Shinjuku. She gets pestered by some toughs and tells them "I see Shinjuku hasn't changed much, cheap gangsters thinking they own the town". She finds work with the father of one of her prison mates - but the daughter Midori (Yumiko Katayama) wants nothing to do with her father except have him pay the debts of her no-good boyfriend. The Yakuza Boss Ohya is pressuring him to sell his place of business. The Boss with a scar running down his cheek looks like he should be in a child pedophile prison. Where he got the scar is one of the nice touches of the film. Tetsu the Razor.

Other of Rika's friends from past films show up - Choko who works in the Ginza Girl Cabaret squeezing drinks out of customers for a few squeezes of their own, Mari is doing nude modeling for amateur (i.e. perverts) photographers, Yuki from the last film delivers Chinese food and Tsunao the one male in the band of friends is back for his fourth time. Last heard running a porno shop in Yokohama. Rika is the mother hen - always trying to fix problems which always leads her down that late night street for revenge. A classic ending - five girls dressed in red overcoats march to the Yakuza headquarters with horns blasting like a Spaghetti Western showdown, whip off their coats to reveal battle ready wear and take out their blades and get to hacking. One money shot has the camera shooting through a glass floor as one guy gets sliced, falls to the floor and the blood slowly covers the frame.

Like the other three this is mainly a melodrama of friendship with a bloody cherry on top at the end. A little less cool here and a little more sleaze but not by a lot. Reiko Oshida who plays Rika just wins you over with her shy smile and eyes that could coax any man from jumping. She was in one of the Crimson Bat films and two of the Okatsu films but she had large gaps in her filmography after this film. Maybe just missing on IMDB. But she has become a favorite. I wish there were ten more of these.