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Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter ("Nora neko rokku — sekkusu hanta")

  • Japan
  • 1970
  • 93 mins
  • 35mm
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)

“Impeccably stylized and undeniably cool” — Tom Mes, MIDNIGHT EYE

A girl gang led by beautiful, black-hatted Mako (Meiko Kaji, LADY SNOWBLOOD and FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION) rules the city streets and clubs, committing extortion and petty theft to finance their partying lifestyle. Mako’s in love with moody Baron (Tatsuya Fuji, IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES), whose Eagles gang tools around in old U.S. Army jeeps, stomping anyone who crosses their turf. But when one of Mako’s girls falls for a mixed-race boy, it awakens even worse impulses within Baron, and he declares war on all foreigners and mixed-bloods. Meanwhile, Mako’s attention has been diverted to a new arrival in town: hulking, half-breed brawler Kazuma (the late, great Riki Yasuoka, TAMPOPO), who’s searching for a long-lost sister. The tension soon builds to a breaking point, when Mako and Kazuma run off together, with Baron and his gang in close pursuit.

One of the primary films to usher Nikkatsu from the idealistic, pop-art 1960s into the grimy, nihilistic 1970s, SEX HUNTER marked not only a turning point for the five-film STRAY CAT ROCK series, but was also a watershed moment for Nikkatsu as a whole, and arguably, the entire Japanese film industry. Nikkatsu would move to making only sex films within a year, and the sweaty, politically fueled storylines of those “Roman Porno” titles were foreshadowed in no small way by Hasebe’s film. Propelled by a rage-filled, provocative screenplay by enfant terrible Atsushi Yamatoya, SEX HUNTER pulls no punches, from its hedonistic heroines’ free-living, drug-fueled lifestyles to interracial sex to violent racism and sexual repression. Just a few years earlier, Nikkatsu was giving audiences virginal heroines and fresh-faced heroes who may have had some vices but always paid for their crimes in the end. Now, on the brink of a new decade and with Japan’s film industry facing a crisis, the studio presented its star-crossed young lovers as doomed martyrs in a story of barely-hidden incest, violence and a mass-murder climax. Rebellion was not only in the air, but in the streets, and Japan’s supposedly-bright economic recovery was being savagely questioned by a new generation of film artists; Hasebe’s was not the only voice to scream “no future!” at Nikkatsu, but it was certainly one of the loudest.

— Marc Walkow