‘Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter’ Review

Original Title: NORA-NEKO ROKKU: SEKKUSA HANTA
1970. Japan.
Screened at the Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood.
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe.
With Meiko Kaji, Tatsuya Fuji

Here’s a tip for all middle-aged men: if you see an attractive young woman in a schoolgirl outfit, run away, run away! In the opening scene of STRAY CAT ROCK – SEX HUNTER, a middle-aged salaryman ignores this advice and is soundly beaten by the young woman’s friends. The ladies (some clad in thigh-high go-go boots and short skirts) saunter saucily down the street, with a crazy rhythm in their hips, and it’s clear everybody should stay clear of this girl group.

The girls are led by Mako (Meiko Kaji). They are a tough group, ready to fight at a moment’s notice, and Mako’s job is to pick when and where to allow the eruption to happen. Mako’s love match is The Baron (Tatsuya Fuji). He’s all cool and distant, as a Yakuza should be, and is the leader of his own gang. Everybody hangs out in a dark and dank basement nightclub. One night The Baron realizes that Mako’s girls would be perfect for the sex trade, and decides that his men must rape them in order to break their spirit and prepare them for the lucrative work ahead. This being unenlightened times (1970), some of the girls fight and fuss but kinda like it. Mako only allows this to go on for so long before she breaks it up. What really sets her off is when she sees The Baron and his gang tearing into some kids because of their mixed parentage (American and Japanese). Mayhem ensues.

The plot is a bit difficult to follow, but the film is such a gorgeous riot of lurid color, rippling with dangerous vibes, and fairly dancing with jazzy riffs, that it doesn’t matter. STRAY CAT ROCK – SEX HUNTER gives off a contact high, and your brain is left pleasantly buzzing.

At the age of 23, Meiko Kaji displays charisma to spare and easily holds her own at the center of the picture. In the first sequence, her face erupts into a lazy, satisfied smile that electrifies the screen as she luxuriates in the power she has over her group and the power her group has against men and the world in general. She rattles off insults and retorts with the ease of a self-assured stand-up comedian. Later, when she realizes her girls are in trouble, she doesn’t panic; she just needs a little time to figure things out on her own. She would later star in FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION: JAILHOUSE 41.

This was the third of five movies in the STRAY CAT ROCK series. Director Yasuharu Hasebe debuted with 1966’s BLACK TIGHT KILLERS. Here he maintains a merciless pace and even contrasts the expansive outside world with the secretive basement nightclub by shooting nearly all of the latter scenes with a hard matte on the sides, giving those sequences a claustrophobic, clandestine edge. The film is pure joy in a comic-book, b-movie vein.

(Originally published by Kung Fu Cult Cinema.)

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