Tokugawa Onna Keizu/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Tokugawa onna keizu marked a turning point on director Teruo Ishii’s career. After having worked for Shin-Toho and Toei for nearly two decades and having recently helmed no less than 10 Abashiri Prison yakuza film instalments, Ishii had started losing his interest for traditional film making. At the same time the audiences were requesting for more daring content and Toei was more than willing offer it. Ishii’s transform into a smut master was however two-part, and and the second half wouldn’t be complited until later the same year with Tokugawa onna keibatsu-shi (The Joy of Torture). Despite the mysterious ’18’ rating Tokugawa onna keizu is a thoroughly unshocking piece of exploitation cinema, not least because of the complete lack any sort of violence, save for one stabbing and some ”forced sexual encounters”. The nudity bank however is exploded all over the harem walls.
This isn’t the first time Ishii more or less defines the movie to follow with the opening credits sequence. A harem full of topples women dancing and singing while the credits roll is something that is hard to follow without a bloody big grin on your face. At the same time it’s obvious this is another monumental glimpse of movie history. With all the gorgeous settings and costumes, high profile actors and first class technical execution mixed with pure exploitation this is something that could simply not be made anymore.
While the minimalistic storyline is more silly than wild Ishii keeps the movie moderately entertaining with the clash of soft-sexploitation and somewhat high profile period movie making. Those with language barrier (no translation available as far as I know) may not get very much out of the movie as it’s quite heavy on (apparently hilarious) dialogue. Genre fans are a different matter of course. Personally I found myself quite entertained till around the 60 minute mark. The last third is a bit less exciting although Ishii more or less saves the ending with a fantastic closing image.
The female dominated cast only features a handful of male actors. The shogun is played by Ishii reqular Teruo Yoshida, who’s role is maybe a bit more obscure than usual (Ishii often casted him as one of the more rational characters in his movies). Another very familiar male actor who appears in the movie, although only briefly, is Asao Koike. Yoshida and Koike would later appear together in several Ishii movies, most notably as the rivalry tattoo artists in Tokugawa irezumi-shi: Seme jigoku (Inferno of Torture). The vast female cast features some familiar faces like the ever cute Yukie Kagawa, and the pinky violence queen Yoko Mihara. Future Nikkatsu starlet Naomi Tani also appears in the movie although I was unfortunately unable to positively identify her.
Reviewed by HungFist