Operation Pussycat

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“Superfluous if harmless remake, smaller in every way than Russ Meyer’s original.”

Faster, Pussycat is one of the icons of the action heroine genre, literally entire decades ahead of its time. This Japanese version uses a lot of the same elements, starting with a trio of go-go girls on the lam, under their macho leader. They stumble across a wheelchair-bound man and his muscular if taciturn companion, who appears to be stashing a large sum of money somewhere on the premises. If only they could find it… There’s also an innocent who gets entangled in the web of deceit and counter-deceit – in the original, it was because she witnessed them kill her boyfriend, while in this case, it’s after she apparently witnesses the three beat up a policeman, who stopped them for speeding, and discovered the dead body stashed in the back of their pick-up truck.

The main problem is likely anyone trying to step into the shoes – make that, boots – of Tura Satana. It’s probably a lost cause for anyone, trying to capture the complete commitment of Satana, who took the role by the scruff of the neck and shook it, like a Rottweiler mauling a rag-doll. It’s this which was largely responsible for lifting the original to its heady, dizzying heights. Much as Mizutani gives her all, in the parallel role of “Harry”, she’s inevitably going to come up short, and the film never reaches the same heights as a result. The dialog in the original was another highlight, cheesily fragrant like the ripest cheddar, and while it may be the translation at fault, none of the lines here stick in the mind the same way.

That said, while a pale imitation, this is still fun enough on its own terms, and was clearly made with a lot of love for the original, which I can only respect. At a mere 43 minutes, it gallops along at a brisk pace, and the areas where it diverts most sharply from Faster – particularly the end – were interesting and offered scope for future development. All told, while there’s really no point to this, that isn’t enough to condemn it, and if treated as a homage to Meyer, it’s a pleasant, if brief, diversion.

Dir: Ryuichi Honda
Star: Kei Mizutani, Nao Eguchi, Yukari Fukawa, Eguchi Nao

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