Sex and Fury (1973)
By: M. Walsh on December 23, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Panik House (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 1.0. English Subtitles. 89 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director:Norifumi Suzuki
Starring: Reiko Ike, Akemi Negishi, Ryôko Ema, Yôko Hori, Christina Lindberg
Screenplay: Masahiro Kakefuda, Norifumi Suzuki
Country: Japan
AKA: Furyô anego den: Inoshika Ochô
A young girl bears witness to her father's murder. This singular event provides the girl with enough venom to sustain her desire for revenge until she is mature enough to search for his killers and make them pay for their crime. That the young girl grows up to become the ever-naked Reiko Ike doesn't exactly hurt either.

Sex and Fury, the literal translation of which is Elder Sister - A Deer Amongst Wild Boars, is the best kind of trashy exploitation flick: visually assured, needlessly convoluted and full of nudity. The film's director, Norifumi Suzuki, has a keen eye for composition and colour, and much of Sex and Fury is absolutely beautiful to watch. However, spectacular widescreen vistas do not necessarily elevate a film above the confines of its genre, and although there are those who claim that Sex and Fury operates on a level of actual 'art' (and that's art with a capital A) the evidence to the contrary is substantial to say the least.

Which isn't to say that the film lacks artistry. It is a superbly made, highly entertaining romp with some, let's be honest, completely gratuitous sex scenes thrown in to the balance out all the swordplay (off which there is less than you might think). Add Christina Lindberg into the mix, here playing a spy whose grasp of English, and Japanese for that matter, is delightfully poor, and you're guaranteed and good time all round.

There is nothing wrong with a film simply doing what it does well, and Sex and Fury certainly delivers the goods with a surprising regularity. It is certainly far better made than many of the other films in its genre; it is well paced, memorable and, most of all, fun. It also contains a handful of masterfully conceived set pieces, the pinnacles of which are an early fight in the snow and a climactic battle on a staircase.

Sex and Fury is a genuine exploitation classic, and I am proud to see it sitting on my shelf beside Lady Snowblood and Lone Wolf and Cub (in particular Baby Cart In The Land Of Demons, which is, in my humble opinion, the best film in the series).

Highly recommended.
Video
Stunning. Absolutely stunning. I never, never expected this film to look anywhere near as good as it does here. Minor niggles aside (very rare instances of print damage) this is as good a transfer of an exploitation title as you're ever likely to see. The *only* serious issue I had with the transfer, which has nothing at all to do with image quality, was the subtitling of both the Japanese and English dialogue scenes. With two sets of subtitles on a screen at once, things can become a little busy. Subtitling grievances aside, this transfer is nothing short of miraculous.
Audio
The original mono track, which has more colour and definition than expected. It isn't going to absolutely knock your socks off, but if won't have you stuffing things into your ear canals either.
Extra Features
A relatively sparse selection here, but there is still a decent amount of quality material to be found. Norifumi Suzuki, Reiko Ike and Christina Lindberg biographies, and in some cases galleries, written by Chris D. These make for reasonably interesting reading, as does the essay on Toho's Bad Girl Cinema, also written by Chris D. The ever present Chris D also provides a commentary track for the film which, although dry, is nevertheless very informative. The film's original theatrical trailer rounds off the disc.
The Verdict
Sordid, absurd and utterly, utterly gorgeous, Sex and Fury is some of the best fun you'll have all year. Is it art? Probably not. Is it riotously entertaining? Without a doubt. With this release, newcomers Panik House have well and truly put many well established DVD houses to shame.
Movie Score
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