Monday, September 10, 2012

Will the First SM Pink Film Please Stand Up?

I don't wish to cause any confusion, but I was doing a little research into director Mukai Kan (aka Mukai Hiroshi and even Patrick Kan) and apparently it has been alleged that Mukai's 1967 film, Sexy Partners, was the first pink film to have SM as "its primary theme".

This was found on Wikipedia and the article was quoting the book published by Thomas and Yuko Weisser, Japanese Cinema Encyclopedia: The Sex Films.

Here is the quote from the book as referenced by Wikipedia in the footnotes:

Some Japanese source books list this film as the first S&M sex movie, while other references insist either Birth Control Revolution, Trap Of Lust or Memoirs Of A Modern Female Doctor (all 1967) has that dubious distinction. Regardless, whether it was actually the first isn't important, but it's fair to say Lustful Companions was certainly the earliest pinku eiga to deal with sadism/masochism as the predominant theme.

Note that the Weissers here are using the title Lustful Companions for the same film. The title in Japanese is Iro no Michizure.

The quote itself is confusing. I can only surmise they are making a distinction between "the first S&M sex movie" and "the earliest pinku eiga to deal with sadism/masochism as the predominant theme".

To me, "the first S&M sex movie" implies a "predominant theme".

But there is a bigger problem: what to make of this film?

History of Japanese Torture Punishment, Komori Kyoshi, 1964
History of Japanese Torture Punishment was released a full three years before any of the above-referenced films (I'm giving the Weissers the benefit of the doubt that all those films came out in 1967).

Too bad I don't have the Weissers' book. I'd be interested to know what they have to say about this film, assuming it's covered. It may not be as History of Japanese Torture Punishment seems impossible to view now and may have been so for a long time.

In summary, we may have a factual error here or a simple issue of semantics.

Mukai Kan was another prolific director and producer of pink films. Here is a lengthy filmography. 

Modern Female Ninja: Flesh Hell, Mukai Kan, 1968
He is also said to have been a good action director. The film pictured above, Modern Female Ninja: Flesh Hell would seem to be a mixture of the two genres. Sex and violence. Who could ask for more?

This film debuted in 1968 and, like most of Mukai's films, is a true product of the pinku eiga revolution. It was filmed principally in black and white and only partially in color. My understanding is that this was due to budgetary concerns (as opposed to artistic license) and was a common occurrence with early pink films.

It was not produced or distributed by any of the mainstream studios of the day. A list of studios for Mukai films includes such names as Nihon Cinema, Kyoei, Kanto, Tokyo Geijutsu Productions and even Mukai Productions.

Modern Female Ninja: Flesh Hell (Gendai Kunoichi Niku Jigoku) was co-produced by Mukai Productions and Kanto.

Here's the synopsis according to Wikipedia:

One member of a secret society of female ninjas in contemporary Tokyo is kidnapped by international slave traders. The other female ninjas set about rescuing her.

One's imagination kicks into overdrive, especially after reading this:

Tongue-in-cheek fun, combining some surprisingly vicious S&M sequences with campy female-ninja hijinx.

Not surprisingly, that's another quote from the Weisser book.

Whether this is a good movie or not, at least no one is proclaiming it "the first SM pink film".

That's a relief.

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  1. Hi! Congratulations on Shocking Pink Cinema! I'm enjoying your posts and like the retro focus.

    The title of "History of Japanese Torture Punishment" sounds vaguely similar to Ishii's 1968 "Tokugawa Female Punishment History" ("History of Tokugawa Penal Woman"). Neat.

  2. Hey Faviola!

    These titles really confuse me. It's quite difficult keeping them straight unless you're quite good at reading the kanji (which I'm still struggling with). I think there are a few more out there with similar titles as well. Oh well, it's a fun challenge :-)