Sixties Japanese pop art film posing as a spy spoof tells the story of Daisuke (real life 60s pop icon Akira Kobayashi), a combat photographer who falls in love with a young woman named Yoriko (Chieko Matsubara) just before she is assaulted in an alley by a strange man. The man is taken down by a quartet of black leather clad women, who also attack Daisuke (by blinding him with "ninja chewing gum bullets"!) as he tries to protect Yoriko. The two manage to escape, but as Daisuke is calling the police Yoriko is kidnapped. With the help of an old reporter friend, Daisuke must find out which faction (the friends of the man in the alley, or the black leather wearing femmes) has taken his woman and must fight both of them to get her back.
Although Black Tight Killers is the epitome of sixties style filmmaking, there is a sense of "under-production" to the entire film. While the film is remarkably well photographed, some of the fight choreography is horrible (especially during the alleyway battle near the beginning of the film) and it is dreadfully obvious that none of the punches come anywhere close to connecting. Still though, there is a certain kitsch to the proceedings that will entertain anyone that is into the whole sixties era of filmmaking.
After a brief intro depicting Daisuke at work on the battlefield, we instantly get a go-go credits sequence that looks as if it could have been included in any one of the James Bond films. Several lovely Japanese women in two-piece bikinis dance during these credits on brightly colored backdrops that match whichever sash the camera decides to train on during the sequence. The sequence is quite campy and the film only gets more so.
Midway through the film, there is an interesting dream sequence that Daisuke has where Yoriko is being chased by the black clad women and the dead man from the alley (who is probably the only Japanese character in film history that you will likely see with a Spanish name). As Yoriko is chased, she charges through the colored backdrops we saw at the beginning of the film and the effect is pretty cool. In fact, a similar effect was done years later for a completely forgotten Sam Raimi directed/Joel and Ethan Coen written film called Crimewave, where Louise Lasser is chased through a series of multi-colored doorways by Paul Smith before ending up in a box that is mailed to Uruguay.
As is the tradition with spy films, there are the usual gadgets introduced to aid whomever is using them with their jobs. Daisuke is given explosive laughing gas containers and homemade rocket launchers to use while trying to track down his girlfriend and he always ends up in a situation where he would need to use exactly the gadgets he has at the time. Not only do the leather clad women have the blinding chewing gum, but they also use razor sharp tape measures and 45 rpm records! How's that for innovation?
Black Tight Killers has been released on DVD through Image Entertainment. The film is presented in the 2.20:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The transfer is pretty good except for a portion near the end where some scratches are very evident, but that is just a fault of the source print used for said transfer. The film is presented in Japanese with English subtitles that were pre-burned onto the film during its original release. In some areas, the subtitles are hard to read, especially during sequences where there is a lot of white on screen. Included on the disc is a trailer for the film and an interview with the director Yasuharu Hasebe.
Film/DVD Review Courtesy of Pockets of Sanity