“Muroga reclaims for Japan, what Clint and Sergio borrowed in the 1960’s.”
If the inspiration for this one wasn’t clear, Goro Yasukawa’s score will soon enlighten you: Sergio Leone. A character with a mysterious past and equally obscure agenda comes into a lawless town, and kicks ass. For The Man With No Name and his horse, read Saki (Yonekura) and her Harley. Given that Leone basically ripped off Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo in A Fistful of Dollars to begin with, the irony is satisfying. She has come to Tsuson – surely a nod to Tucson, less than two hours down the dusty Arizona I-10 from where I write this – to take on Tojo (Tsurumi), the local mob boss, who commits his crimes with impunity from the safety of an American Air Force base. She gets his attention when she interferes with his robbery of a wages truck, and takes the money herself. The two had met previously, though Tojo doesn’t recognise Saki; you’ll probably work out the basic circumstances long before the film reveals them, but it does add a couple of unexpectedly nasty twists of the knife.
The Okinawan setting is interesting, given tension between US forces there and the locals, dating back to a 1995 incident when three servicemen raped a 12-year old girl. Hence, the scene where Yuki demolishes two leering US soldiers has an additional level of resonance for local viewers, and the tolerance of the Americans to a brutal thug on their territory become somewhat more explicable. Yonekura is impressive in her role, and Muroga wisely doesn’t bother to introduce any love interest; the film is barely an hour long, so there just wouldn’t be room. The inevitability of the final Suki-Tojo faceoff is perhaps only exceeded by its ludicrousness – the heroine expands the definition of “unarmed” to include other limbs too. However, for an obviously low-budget work, it’s busily energetic, and rarely slides much below entertaining.
Dir: Atsushi Muroga
Star: Ryoko Yonekura, Shingo Tsurumi, Takeshi Yamato, Takashi Ukaji