Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee’s Challenge

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“In which Reiko Ike is shown the ropes. Lots of ropes…”

If the first Queen Bee movie was a fairly effective romp through the genre, that’s a lot less the case fot the follow-up, with Ike largely floundering around, as Maki, the leader of the Pearl Gang, who finds herself embroiled in a battle with another crew, the Black Lilies and their leader, Yuri (Kazama). Their spat is interrupted, when the Kuroji clan of yakuza throw their weight behind the Black Lilies. However, the triumph of the Lilies is short-lived, as they find out that they are about to be forced into life as prostitutes, for the benefit of their new allies, ending their life of freedom in the ‘hood. There are also subplots in which Yuri’s former boyfriend, Eizo wants to be a top racing driver, bringing him into conflict with the yakuza as well, and a suitcase filled with stolen guns.

Particularly early on, it’s no more than a series of vignettes, as we follow Maki and her crew as, for example, they attempt to swindle a monk who cheated a friend of hers, or pay a visit to a hot spring, where they are “voyeured” by a man wearing scuba gear. Oh, hold my aching sides, for I fear they may split. Meanwhile, the conflict between Maki and Yuki is decided by a game of chicken where they lie, head-to-head on the street, and someone drives a truck over them, until one of them faints. This is neither about as exciting as it sounds, i.e. not very. Though we do get introduced to a fairly new concept in sexual violence: rape by carbonated beverage. So, there’s that…

The main problems here are two-fold: the film takes too long to get to any significant meat, plotwise, and Suzuku seems overly keen on the sexual sadism. Now, it may seem odd to complain about that, considering the genre of pinky violence, but it definitely seems more of the focus here, and seems pretty graphic, too. If you’re coming to these films looking for empowering portrayals of strong women characters (as I am), what feels like lengthy scenes of bondage are probably not what you’re after. Ike doesn’t get the chance to get out of second-gear until the finale, which comes only after a badly-botched effort to extract revenge on the Kuroji mob. That comes about 70 minutes too late, to make this one a keeper.

Dir: Norifumi Suzuki
Star: Reiko Ike, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Chiyoko Kazama, Akiko Koyama

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