Beautiful Beast

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“The Beast is yet to come…”

Debate raged over this one. Chris reckons lead actress Shimamura was, at some point, a man. I’m not quite so convinced, but the mere thought certainly gave the sex scenes here an added edge of creepiness. Given the lengthy such sequence which occurs about five minutes in, I feared this was going to be no more than an itty-bitty titty-fest. Fortunately, after getting that out of his system, director Ikeda (Evil Dead Trap) settles down and delivers a gritty bit of nastiness, occasionally teetering on the edge of sadistic.

Ran (Shimamura) comes to Japan, and makes an immediate impression by assassinating a Yakuza boss and his associates, while they dine in a restaurant. Escaping the scene, she hides out in the restaurant owned by Yoichi (Yamato), and thanks him for covering for her with her body. About three hours later – or maybe it just seems that way – she moves on with the rest of her mission, which is to extract revenge on those responsible for the death of her sister. To this end, she works at the same hostess club as her late sibling, and waits for opportunity to present itself. However, the remaining target (Hakruyu), aware of his peril, kidnaps Ran’s friend Chun Li, and uses her to lure Ran out of the darkness.

The results are clearly inspired by the Zero Woman series, also about an angst-ridden hitwoman, and certainly have their moments. The finale, unfortunately, is not one of them, where instead of the bullet-propelled shootout against an entire Yakuza gang, we get something a lot less entertaining. The movie also features one of the most extreme instances of a boom-mike appearances that I have ever seen [it’s when Chun Li returns to her apartment to pick up some cash. At least, I think it’s a mic, since we couldn’t come up with any other credible suggestions]. Otherwise, however, it was less soft-pornish than we feared, and is played straight up and down, with the gangsters appropriately boorish, yet not stupid. More action would have helped, yet not without its merits. But if anyone can confirm or deny Chris’s theory about Shimamura, we’d like to hear from you…

Dir: Toshiharu Ikeda
Stars: Kaori Shimamura, Hakuryu, Takeshi Yamato, Takanori Kikuchi

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