Porno Jidaigeki: Bohachi Bushido/Review

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Forget about the title as it's a bit misleading. Teruo Ishii's Porno Jidaigeki: Bohachi Bushido isn't nearly as much of a historical sex flick as it is first rate chambara exploitation film. Think of Lone Wolf and Cub directed by Teruo Ishii and you'll get the idea. The swordplay is there, the blood is there, the sword wielding naked chicks are there. The budget may be low, but it sure doesn't show. This is one of the best looking chambara films ever made, all the way from the sunset opening to the stunning final massacre in snow. And, Kazuo Koike, the creator of the Lone Wolf and Cub manga, is there too. Seems like all great chambara films are based on his mangas. The main star Tetsuro Tamba had acquired the rights and convinced Teruo Ishii to helm the live action adaptation.


Personally I consider Bohachi Bushido not only one of my favorite exploitation films but also one of the best chambara films in general. The only real flaws comes in the beginning. The opening sequence is as wild and striking as you’d expect from Ishii, but, also not so surprisingly, the following few scenes aren't quite as good. Ishii has a nasty habit of relying too much on sex and nudity during the film's first fourth. This time it's not as problematic as we have Tetsuro Tamba here who dominates the image with his badass charisma whenever Ishii turns the focus on him and off some chick's tits. The first 20 minutes is also where most of the film's story is told.


Once we're through with the back story part Ishii's back on the top of his game. Terrific, colorful set ups, violent and nicely choreographed swordplay scenes, maniacal characters, naked female bodyguards, ninjas, naked female bodyguards fighting ninjas... The film was a blast when I first saw it, and repeated viewings have only made it better. The dialogue - or mumbling, as the case tends to be with our main character - is often excellent! ”To live is hell, but to die, also, is hell”. Tetsuro Tamba is the ultimate anti hero. He's the walking definition of ”I don't give a shit”. He spares a man's life only because he can't be bothered to kill him right now.


The sexual content later on in the film is rather interesting too, or at least fun. It's a sort of wet dream utopia with high rank officials living in small palaces and being surrounded by naked female servants. Ishii keeps it nicely clean leaves the ugly sleaze out. The women are beautiful and seem to be doing it out of their own will, even enjoying it. This is A-grade stuff to piss off the feminists, but also to add to the film's coolness. It works in the same way as some ultra brutal Sonny Chiba films; over the top and hilarious, but not in a laugh out loud kind of way. You take it half seriously but there's constant small grin on your face. Sadly some people are unable to see the golden middle course between serious and laughable, but that's not the film makers fault, is it?

Those who like both pinky violence and swordplay flicks should look no further. This is small glimpse of heaven.

Reviewed by Hung Fist

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