The Second is a Christian (Nidaime wa Christian)

Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu
Year: 1985
Production Company: Kadokawa Shoten
Running Time: 101 minutes

If you go into this expecting an action jamboree due to the cast inclusion of female action icon Etsuko Shihomi or the salivate inducing poster, you are more than likely to be disappointed. This was very near the end of Etsuko’s film career and she seems more than content to keep the action to a minimum here and focus instead on her acting skills. Still the "Flying Nun" this isn't though for a while I wasn't sure. The film is a curious mix of light comedy and stop in your boots drama. For most of its running time it is no more than a lighthearted Yakuza comedy with orphan kids thrown in to the pot as well that surprisingly and suddenly swerves into a wrenching bloody finale. It hits you like a sudden jolt of whiplash.

Miss Kyoko (Etsuko) is being courted by two men – one a policeman and the other a Yakuza head – who both want to marry her. This may be a bit odd on its own but even more so considering that Kyoko is a nun in some unnamed Christian order. This minor detail doesn’t seem to bother either man though nor does it faze her Mother Superior who thinks it’s time for Kyoko to settle down with a man and to lose her virginity. The cop, Kumashiro (Akira Emoto – “Zebraman” and “Doppleganger”), has one issue to deal with  - his father is a Buddhist priest and doesn’t exactly want a Christian in the family, but he takes Kyoko out for a date – in which she dresses up in a sexy bra and garter belt combo – just what religious order is this anyway – The Heart of the Sacred Lingerie?
The Yakuza boss Haruhiko (Kouichi Iwaki) has his problems too. He has just inherited the small Tenryu gang from his dead father, but Kuroiwa (Hideo Murota) and his men have every intention to move into his Kobe territory. Haruhiko is more concerned about romancing and bedding Kyoko though and even forces his men to convert to Christianity. Much of the comedy comes of this fish out of water aspect and their comparisons between being a Yakuza and a Christian and their confusion over concepts like the Immaculate Conception – “how did Jesus get through the hymen?” Another tells them that getting baptized is the same as going to a Soapy and that the distinction between Catholics and Protestants is the same as between a gambler and a crooked peddler. In the end though even after he tries to grope Kyoko in the confession booth, she agrees to marry him and the film spins off like a crazed rocket.
After their vows are exchanged, Haruhiko is killed by an old girlfriend (Rino Katase – “Wives of the Yakuza”) and Kyoko not only has to take leadership of the gang but at the same time she also discovers that her father was a legendary Yakuza killer. By now there isn’t a sniff of comedy loitering about as Kuroiwa begins killing her men and shooting drugs into the orphans she cares for. During all this she keeps turning her cheek in Christian forgiveness, but after much patience on the part of the audience she finally drops her habit and picks up a Samurai sword and charges into Kuroiwa’s headquarters screaming out “Fuck you. If you want to repent, cross yourself. Otherwise, I’ll kill all of you”. Much to their regret, they don’t repent.

My rating for this film: 6.0