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Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter!

Home Vision Entertainment // Unrated // June 22, 2004
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted June 16, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter! (1970) is part of a five film series about a gang of sassy girl delinquents. It is a groovy exploitation romp with plenty of 60's hipster psychedelic visuals. Like the gangster films of Seijun Suzuki (though less... shall we say, highbrow), style is the substance of film, with plotting becoming secondary to the energy of the image and jazzy tone.

Mako (Meiko Kaji) leads her own girl gang, prowling the streets, taking no guff. When Mako and another member of her gang fall for two half breed Japanese men, Kazuma and Ichiro, this raises the ire of guy gang the Eagles (must refrain from making a Don Henley joke). Led by Baron, a sunglasses clad dude with a serious grudge against half breeds because it was their kind that raped his sister when he was a boy, the Eagles set out to rid their town of all half breeds, beating and menacing any they come across.

Kazuma only wants to find his long lost sister, and agrees to leave if the Baron finds her during the Eagles race war. Mako mainly stays out of the rivalry while secretly fawning over the hunk, but Kazuma is more concerned with finding his sister than falling for someone. After Baron tries to sell off her group to a bunch of businessmen looking for a gang bang party and she discovers one of her girls may be Kazuma's lost sibling, Mako reaches her boiling point and the gang war gets more deadly.

Female Convict Scorpion #701 and Black Tight Killers director Yasuharu Hasebe was a man with a firm command of camp and it shows in nearly every frame of Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter! Yeah, it isn't high art, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun. The Eagles drive around in army jeeps (a nice bit o' subtle post-war Japan symbolism), zooming around the city cackling like a gang of hyenas. Mako looks good while flinging a maltov coctail. Hell, Kazuma's wardrobe alone, his frilly, yellow, silk shirt (tastefully unbuttoned well below his chest) is worth the price of admission.

The films biggest lacking point is that you expect there to be some kind of big girl gang Vs. guy gang finale and it never comes. While it seems to be the prime reason to have this rivalry get heated to the point that they fight, for some reason they didn't take advantage of this idea and the finale is a disappointing showdown between Kazuma and a couple of the Baron's guys while Mako cowers in the corner.

Still, the film is another winner just because of its female lead. Meiko Kaji is the Japanese Pam Grier, a vixen of vengeance, with no less than three series (Stray Cat Rock, Female Convict Scorpion, and Lady Snowblood) in which she shined as a female anti-hero. While she may not be Cate Blanchet, she has that undefinable presence, that look that demands attention, usually through just a cold, steely- eyed stare. And what a stare. It knocks you right out. Besides, I doubt I'd be intimidated if Cate Blanchett wanted to engage me in a knife fight. Meiko on the other hand...

The DVD: Home Vision

First, I have to give a nod to Home Vision's graphic department, who truly do an eye catching job for so many of their releases. You need look no further than compare their Zatoichi release graphics to Animeigo's Zatoichi covers to see who shines. The white box and cover and lettering of Stray Cat Rock should instantly let any film fan know everything they need to know about the style of the film inside.

Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. Well, this is not one of those times where an old film will get a transfer that reveals extra details one didn't expect. No, it looks its age and has all the marks of its era. Specifically the night scenes and dark interior (of which the film is probably 80% comprised) do suffer a bit with characters almost getting lost in the murk. Though, this appears to be a quirk of the actual on set lighting as opposed to a transfer problem.

So, it is a little rough around the edges. Colors are a tad muted. Grain is heavy. But, sometimes that is just the attributes of a cult film and not every print is going to be pristine. I'll point to, lets say, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse #41, Black Tight Killers and Blind Beast as examples of similar Japanese genre fare that had dirtier prints on their US DVD transfers, but they, like Stray Cat Rock, still remain worthwhile for fans to purchase. A very decent job with b-grade material.

Sound: Mono, Japanese language with optional English subtitles. The groovy tunes on the soundtrack, including two songs/performances by half breed girl group The Golden Halves, should have your best girlie heading for the go-go cage. Yes, its nothing that will astound, but the mono track, while showing its age, is pretty clear.

Extras: Chapter Selections-- Liner notes-- Yasuharu Hasebe Filmography, which includes great titles like Leather Jacket Rebels, Naked Seven, and Secret Honeymoon: Rape Train-- Trailer for the film, plus a Zatoichi Collection promo trailer.

Conclusion: I want more Stray Cat Rock!

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