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September 11, 2013

Movie Review: She Cat (1983, DVD)

Review By: Rob Sibley

She Cat aka Meneko is my second fore into the world of Nikkatsu roman pornos. The first was Fairy In ACage, which I wasn't the biggest fan of. Sure that film was heavy on the political subtext but just featured way too much BDSM for my tastes. So I went into She Cat with a bit of worry. Was I in for the same experience, just packaged differently? Luckily not, I wouldn't even call this a Roman Porno. Sure it features a helluva lot of nudity, showers scenes, rape scenes and everything else you'd expect from an 80's Japanese exploitation picture.

But luckily this film is more plot based then I expected. It's also more then anything else a sleazy Yakuza film.Now anyone who knows me, knows that Yakuza films are my favorite genre of films from Japan. Everything from early Fukasaku to the bat-shit crazy Dead Or Alive films from Miike (before he went Mainstream) to all the J-video films starring the likes of Riki Takeuichi, Sho Aikiwa and my personal favorites the Seijun Suzuki/Jô Shishido classics like Youth Of The Beast & Branded To Kill. Or Suzuki's Yakuza art house classic Tokyo Drifter. My point is, if a film deals with the Japanese mafia I will more likely then not watch it. No, I didn't forget all the wonderful Kitano Yakuza pictures but this is a review of “She Cat” not a 12 page essay on my obsession with Japanese gangster culture. So lets move on... shall we?

Dr. "Cat" Kagami was hoping to leave her torrid past behind (That always works). But a failed assassination attempt (Is there is any other kind?) has now put her square in the crosshairs of a team of brutal killers. Now one is safe (from rape), including her lesbian (cheeky) co-worker and a mysterious woman with a terrible secret that could bring down an entire Japanese company. Cat must take the law into her own hands (You go girl!) and enact her own special king of revenge!!!

Alright first up, the film does live up to it's cover art and synopsis. This film is just packed to the brim with nudity, Cat seems to spend most of her time in the shower for the duration of the picture (Thanks babe!). The lesbian scenes are nicely done and the sex scenes are highly erotic. The film does go a bit far with the rape scenes, I mean women in Yakuza films are usually soley their to be slapped around and then raped but this one takes it to a whole new level. You could have titled this film "Rape Time: She Cat Vs. The Yakuza". 

The lead actress Ai Saotome, who funny enough was usually a dramatic actress. Was very well cast in this one, she's not just a victim. She dishes out the vengeance in plentiful amounts and luckily has the dramatic chops to carry the more acting heavy bits. Yes, she's got a big rack too... so pervs and acting aficionado's both rejoice. The supporting cast is also especially memorable. Mainly the actors playing the yakuza's. If you've seen any Japanese crime film between 1960 to 1980 then you've seen these guys before. Interesting to note that back in the day many of these "actors" were often real life retired mafia... some weren't so retired. So they bring a convincing menace to the roles that normal actors couldn't.

This film is easy to reccomend, the running time is only 87 minutes so it's never slow. The nudity is plentiful so it will keep Nikkatsu fans happy. The films final showdown is violent and fun so that will please Japanese Crime film buffs. Basically if you dig Japanese cinema and want to take a walk on the wild side then check this out. It's easily from what I've seen, the most accessible Nikkatsu picture. 

Synapse's dirty little step-uncle Impulse Pictures releases She Cat in a very pleasing 1.8:1 16:9 widescreen transfer. For the most parts it spot on, sure the film elements arn't always perfect. But for a film shot on the cheap in 1981 it looks very pleasing. 

The Japanese 2.0 mono track is a bit hollow but it adds to the fun vibe of the film. This is the kinda film that just wouldn't work with a brand new 5.1 track. 

Extra's are limited to the films theatrical trailer and two pages of excellent linear notes by film scholar Jasper Sharp. 

I love this movie and I think you will too viva la Nikkatsu! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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