Kunoichi: Lady Ninja (Ozawa Hitoshi 1988)


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Kunoichi: Lady Ninja [Kunoichi ninpocho Yagyu gaiden]

Genre: Mythical Schlock Ninja-ette Adventure [Late Edo/Tokugawa Era]

review in one breath

Though the last 7 daughters of the Hori clan have hidden as nuns in a convent, the Evil Lord of Aizu soon comes knocking. When they discover that their father has been captured and killed by the Evil Lord, they swear amongst themselves to avenge their father's death by unleashing the hidden Ninja Magic within themselves. Under the tutelage of master samurai Yagyu Jubei, the 7 soon find themselves nipple-deep in disaster.


high-brow prologue

First let me say that the following is probably far more analysis than this film deserves, as you shall soon see. However...

After having recently watched the similar Kunoichi: Deadly Mirage which involved female ninja-ettes fighting on behalf of the Shinsengumi I knew what I was in for with this current film; a very tenuously grounded historical piece filled with ninja-ette bOObies. And I was not disappointed. I'll get to the ninja-ette bOObies in a bit, but first let me talk about the tenuous history.

(As I mentioned above) The film pits our 7 ninja-ette protagonists against the Evil Lord of Aizu. In fact the narrative goes to some length in describing Aizu as the Mordor of medieval Japan.

Now, I've been to "Aizu" (modern Fukushima/Aomori provinces) more than once and didn't notice anything particularly evil about the place and so it struck me as a little peculiar that the film would characterize the region as it did.

But here's a little history:

The collapse of the Edo/Tokugawa Era and the rise of the Meiji Era marked a truly fundamental and irreversible shift in the political state of Japan. During the Edo Era shogunate daimyo's, the strongest of which was the Tokugawa Shogunate, held more de facto power than the Emperor himself. This feudal system eventually gave way to a restoration of the Emperor's full authority (marking day one of the "Meiji Restoration") but not without significant resistance by die-hard Tokugawan loyalists.

In Kyoto (south of Edo), the Shinsen Gumi or Clan, responsible in better times for the protection of the Tokugawa Shogunate itself, fought bitterly in what is (cumulatively) known as the Boshin War of 1868, but were finally routed by pro-Imperial forces. Following the Shinsen Gumi defeat, the only remaining stronghold of the Tokugawan loyalists was Aizu, at the northernmost end of the country.

The Aizu Clan, like the Shinsengumi had been entrusted as bodyguards of the Tokugawa Shogunate. The formidable Tsuruga Castle (aka Aizuwakamatsu Castle) was the home of the Aizu Clan daimyo and his infamous Byakkotai ("White Tiger Company"), an elite squad of young samurai notorious for their fighting skills.

By May of 1868, nearly all of Japan had embraced the new pro-Imperial government. All that is, except the Aizu Clan. After a fierce month-long battle the Aizu daimyo finally admitted defeat on September 23, 1868 resulting in the mass suicide (seppukku) of the Byakkotai warriors.

One month later, the captiol Edo was renamed Tokyo, and the start of the Meiji Era is officially recorded.

And as they say, the victor gets to write the history.

Thus here, though undoubtedly exaggeratedly, the Lord of Aizu (whose name in the film is fictitious) is cast as a near demonic figure. (The film actually uses a picture of Tsuruga Castle as the Evil Lord's lair.) It is also interesting to note that depending on the chronological proximity to the collapse of the Shogunate, those loyal to Tokugawa are (or can be) viewed as good or bad. In this film, Shogunate loyalists are the bad guys (though for reasons other than their loyalty), but in the other (unrelated) Kunoichi film, the Tokugawa loyalists are the heroes who thwart a pro-Imperial plot to kill Tokugawa. Time and perspective make all the difference.

Okay. That's probably enough serious stuff. We all know you are here for the bOObies.

intro

This film is produced by Ozawa Hitoshi who also appears in the film as none other than Yagyu Jubei!! If you are not familiar with the historical figure of Yagyu Jubei (and his father, Yagyu Tajima - swordmaster of the Tokugawa Shogunate (!)) then by all means read my highly academic reviews of the definitive Yagyu history Reborn From Hell episodes Samurai Armageddon and Jubei's Revenge. (You're sure to learn alot!)

Given the film's anti-Tokugawan stance while at the same time choosing the traditionally Tokugawan-allianced Yagyu Jubei as a main protagonsist, viewer's will want to notice how the film's critical turning point is reached when Yagyu Jubei vehemently denounces the Shogunate for his (indirect) persection of the ninja-ettes. (This cuts Jubei loose from any notions of allegiance and allows him to indiscriminately kick major buttage henceforth!)

Ozawa has to date directed eleven films, none beside this which have graced the pages of this highly selective review site. As an actor, however, he has appeared (to date) in 114 films which you (my dear reader) may be familiar with such as several of the "Be-Bop Highschool" series (depicting major high-school brawlage), Miike's "Dead or Alive" (as character Satake) and "GOZU", and Kitamura Ryuhei's Alive. Also starring here is Moriyama Yuko whom you may recognize from "Zeiram" and Makai Tensho (another film BTW with intriguing historical lessons).

It might also be worth mentioning that during his several battles, Yagyu Jubei dresses like the traditional mountain demon Hannya. The reason for his doing so and the fact that everyone recognizes the horned demon as the militarily formidable Hannya rely wholly upon the assumption that the audience is familiar with the Hannya legends, which for Western audiences may be assuming too much. (So read THIS for background.)

Okay. FINALLY! On to the ninja-ette bOObies.

story

The film commences (in Chinese language) with the (apparently international) tale of the Aizu Lord, Akinari Katou's (Mizukami Ryuushi) ravenous appetite for the supple flesh of beautiful womEN (as in PLURAL). As (shall we say) "ruler of his domain", he has OH-SO-MANY curvaceously voluptuous maidens to abduct at will and make into hedonistic puppets. But when he lays eyes on the beautimous Ochei (Moriyama Yuko) of the Hiro Clan, his libidinous interest (et al) peaks.

The father of the Hiro family quickly sent Ochei, along with her similarly virginous and beautimous SIX sisters to a remote convent. And believe me when I say there are well-entrenched traditional rules regarding males entering female convents, NONE OF WHICH seems to concern Libidinous Lord Akinori (LLA) who quickly sent his elite band of warriors, the "Seven (Freudian) Spears" to physically decimate these nuns in hiding. (PSST: "Aizu Lord and an Elite Band of Warriors", get it?)

But divine powers intercede and thwart the rather demonic Aizu warriors, long enough to beckon the legendary Yagyu Jubei into the mix as an instructor (in ALL things) for these seven virginous maidens. Apparently deep within each of their seven Hiro Clan selves lies dormant Ninja Magic (Ninpo) which must somehow be awakened.

Well. You, the beloved viewer, will UNDOUBTEDLY be surprised at the manner and method in which these Ninja Powers will be released. Needless to say that EACH critical power will wholly rely upon various (ahem) unique characteristics of the SEVEN VIRGINS.

You will learn of secret, dark and deadly Ninja Magic (!!) such as the "Virgin Blood Sword" (which takes Yagyu and one ninja-ette less than two minutes to procure!). Or how about "Nipple Shock Power"! (GUYS! DON'T STARE INTO THE LIGHT!). And let's not forget the dreaded "Uterine Cannon of Destruction" (as I call it) which can only be mastered by someone who, well, has a uterus.

By now you should be starting to grasp the sheer brilliance of this complex and exciting story.

verdict

JUST TO RECAP: This is a low budget, schlock gore depiction of a battle between 7 buxom, virginal ninja-ettes under the tutelage of master SEXY HUNK Yagyu Jubei against the "Seven Spears" of the Libidinous Lord of Aizu (LLA).

Since you are reading this I dare guess you are looking for an answer to the question: "Should you watch this?"

OF COURSE YOU SHOULD. (Just don't pay too much good money to see it.)

Version reviewed: Region 1 DVD available via mainstream US venues.

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Relative moral stance on Tokugawa loyalty is thoroughly exposed here. Plenty of schlock bright red blood and limb hacking. More than a handful [heh] of Nipples, some quite SHOCKING. Whenever "Nipple Shock Power" is called in to devastate the Libininous Lord, I think we should all take reverent notice.

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