DVD: Sex Hunter – Wet Target / Sekkusu hantâ – Nureta hyôteki (1972)

January 3, 2013 | By

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Film: Very Good/ DVD Transfer: Good/ DVD Extras: Standard

Label: Impulse Pictures / Synapse/ Region: 1 (NTSC) / Released: December 11, 2012

Genre: Japanese Pink / Adult

Synopsis: After earning his parole, a half-breed hunts down the U.S. soldiers who raped, defiled, and murdered his baby sister. Not a happy story.

Special Features: Booklet liner notes by Jasper Sharp / Theatrical teaser Trailer




Vol. 10 of Impulse Pictures’ Nikkatsu Erotic Films Collection offers up one of the earliest Roman Porno entries after the Japanese studio switched from exploitation to adult in 1971, and while still technically softcore material, director Yukihiro Sawada’s film is a nasty, subversive work filled with virulent anti-Americanism.

Essentially a revenge film about a recently paroled convict who seeks out the killers of his sister, Sex Hunter: Wet Target maintains a sometimes bizarre balancing act of drama, action film, adult fodder, and outright sadism. Both director and writer Atsushi Yamatoya (Branded to Kill) made sure to fulfill Nikkatsu’s requirements for nudity, groping, and sexual assault, but the film still bears the underpinnings of a straight revenge drama, and Sawada put as much effort into upgrading the action material as exploiting the wrongness of the erotic content.

A case in point is a lengthy fistfight between the brother (Joji Sawada, akak John Harrison) and the local pimp who witnessed the sister’s gang rape and defilement before she was supposedly hung from a religious gate. The lengthy handheld camera follows the men’s fight as they crash into several rooms, maintaining focus and alternating coverage within single takes to convey a brutal, epic fight in what should be over and done with in less than a minute. It’s an unusual, ambitiously directed sequence for what’s supposed to be an adult film.

The neatness of the script’s structure and thematic links are also evident in the climax where for all intents and purposes, the film should be over, but another 10 minutes are spent regrouping characters for a final payback assault that effectively ties together several secondary themes of racism and anti-Americanism.

The fact the sister was raped and defiled by drunken American soldiers alone is a point of shock – the men and their five-star superiors are portrayed as lecherous buffoons with little regard for any human decency, and the locals repeatedly remind the brother of the sheer pointlessness of his quest for justice when details of the crimes and the perpetrators’ punishment are sealed behind the silent walls of the occupying U.S. military machine. From the film’s opening, Sex Hunter’s writer and director portray Americans as villains, and one can argue the brother – himself the progeny of a mixed Japanese / African-American background –  is impulsively violent and sadistic because of his Yankee blood.

A pivotal scene that seems to reinforce his dominant, ‘bad’ American blood has him breaking into the house of one of the rapists, only to find a widow mourning the soldier’s recent death. The brother could have left the house after realizing there’s no revenge to be had, but the constant protestations of the widow turn him into a monster, assaulting and killing the wife by breaking her teeth and grinding down her throat with the barrel of a gun. When the pimp – his unlikely colleague during the retribution quest – peers in, he’s initially disgusted by the sadism, but he also realizes he can use the brother as a weapon for his own benefit.

With the exception of the sister’s friend who survived the assault but remains in a numb, non-verbal state, there are no sympathetic characters in Sex Hunter, and the ‘live’ sex shows performed for gangsters and U.S. military brass are rare buffer points in an otherwise wholly nihilistic drama. Nikkatsu may have been delighted by the film’s nastiness, but they may not have expected the filmmakersy to transcend the narrow genre by injecting pungent social criticism.

Impulse’s DVD features a clean transfer that does on occasion show some compression: when a soft-focus object passes across the screen – like an arm – the affected element lacks fine shading gradations. The mono soundtrack is fairly clean, and features a strangely effective burlesque jazz score by Rei Tama.

DVD Extras include a teaser trailer, and liner notes by Jasper Sharp who differentiate the Nikkatsu Roman Porn directors into five camps. Neither director nor writer were regulars to the genre, which perhaps explains why the film stands out among the studio’s more formulaic (and dramatically spastic) adult product.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


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