Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wandering Ginza Butterfly (1971)

Director: Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Synapse DVD

Here's a seventies Japanese action flick that's light on the action and made infinitely more watchable by the presence of it's star, Kaji Meiko. She plays a bar hostess that was just released from prison after killing a man. She tries to give her money that she makes to the man's widow and son, but she doesn't want it and is very forgiving. Eventually being in the corrupt town of Ginza leads to a confrontation with a local yakuza boss who is trying to steal away the club she works at. Her solution? Play him in a game of pool, winner takes all. But it's that weird game with no holes on the table and they only use three balls. I'm sure I could look it up, but that's too much effort. Thankfully Yamaguchi uses this moment for a clever freeze frame tutorial to explain the game to the uncultured. The following sequences offer the most stylish and violent parts of the film. It starts to veer into territory that Kaji Meiko fans were probably looking for but is over with quickly. All in all, an ok actioner but nothing too memorable.

Synapse's print is terrific and there is a super long interview with director Yamaguchi.


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