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Recently seen movies #79

August 24, 2008

Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams (Japan, 1970) – 4/5

The Delinquent Girl Boss series was most likely intended as Toei’s answer to Nikkatsu’s popular Stray Cat Rock movies (1970-1971). The girl gang films were pop, but not yet too down and dirty. Music, fashion and energetic performances by the female leads mattered more than sex and nudity. Action was not forgotten either. The four film series was helmed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi, who later gained worldwide popularity with his karate flicks (Karate Bull Fighter, Which is Stronger: Karate or the Tiger etc) and female oriented action films like The Sister Street Fighter and Wandering Ginza Butterfly.

Blossoming Night Dreams is about a young delinquent girl (Reiko Oshida) who’s tired of being mistreated due to her criminal past. She quits her job in a laundry shop and starts working as a waitress in a Shinjuku bar. It turns out all the girls working there, including the owner (Junko Miyazono), a have their roots in Akagi girls reform school. They’re now trying honest living, but a greedy yakuza boss (Nobuo Kaneko with the silliest moustache) is after the bar and making thing difficult. More problems are caused by a local girl gang who think they own the streets as they have the yakuza backing them up.

Although the opening makes you expect something slightly more exploitative the film is generally very bright and easy going. This despite there being a few darker turns like an off screen rape and drug addiction theme. These scenes however are clearly in the minority. The amount of humour rather high, even if it’s not always of the most intelligent type. The club scenes work well, too, and there’s a nice music performance by singer Keiko Fuji. The film’s last third is a bit weaker than what comes before but it doesn’t take away much from the overall enjoyment.

Action scenes are included but there aren’t too many of them. There’s a knife fight between Oshida and the leader of the other gang (you can find a similar scene in most girl gang films, including Stray Cat Rock). Some smaller brawls come along the way but the biggest fight is saved till the end. It’s not really bad but clearly first time director Yamaguchi was not yet at the top of his game. The scene benefits from the charismatic performers, but the action choreography itself is nothing to get excited about. All of the Delinquent Girl Boss sequels feature notably better ending fights.

One of the factors behind the success of the series was its leading lady, Reiko Oshida. She was already a familiar face to Toei fans due to her suppoting roles in films such as Quick Draw Okatsu and a couple of Furyo bancho instalments (a series that also influenced on the Delinquent Girl Boss films). Her acting style was a combination of overflowing energy and positive delinquent girl attitude. Plus she was both pretty and had a voice nice enough make it as a singer. Unlike many of her colleagues she didn’t have to take her clothes off to attract viewers.

Like Oshida, many of the supporting actors went to star in all or most of the sequels. Masumi Tachibana and Tonpei Hidari usually appeared as a couple, with Hidari’s lovable loser character always getting bullied by the girls. Yukie Kagawa, probably familiar to most viewers from Teruo Ishii films, had a couple of different roles but she plays Mari in most of the movies. Hayato Tani appears as Oshida’s childhood friend in parts one and three. Junko Miyazano and Tatsuo Umemiya, both giving solid performances here, didn’t return to the series after this film.

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