Bunta Sugawara spits hot lead in Machine Gun Dragon.
Cagney! Bogart! And... Bunta? This poster, if you look at the text in the righthand margin, suggests that Bunta Sugawara is a gangster on that level. We'll see about that in a minute, but one thing is sure—this is a kick-ass image of him. It was made for his crime flick Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu, known in English as Yokohama Underworld: The Machine-Gun Dragon. Sugawara plays a rogue gunman, thief, and fashion plate who decides to rob the Matsumi yakuza clan of a billion yen worth of drugs. Ill gotten gains are hard to keep in crime movies, so you know already what the story arc is here: the people he robbed come looking for him.
However, there are some quirks. For example, Sugawara has a disturbingly close relationship with his mother. The two take baths together, as mom dispenses parental wisdom like, “The most important thing in the world is money. A guy without money is garbage. He might as well not have a dick,” while peeking at Sugawara's dick, which thankfully is out-of-frame. It's under mom's influence that Sugawara robs the Matsumi group, a heist the pair pull off in the first moments of the film. They plan to hold the goods until the heat cools, but another gang deduces that Sugawara was involved and demands half the drugs for not turning him over. The cops are soon closing in too, since the robbery resulted in a quadruple homicide.
Eventually, Sugawara engineers his own arrest. It's the only way he can avoid capture by the yakuza, and in jail he can presumably regroup. But Matsumi has men inside. Those men have no idea how ruthless and resourceful Sugawara is, and in the film's best sequences he shows how survival inside this particular prison is about who's willing to be the most vicious. He doesn't spend long in jail, which means that upon release his problems still must be faced. But fire breathing dragons are very hard to kill. As hard as Cagney and Bogart? Well, let's just say that if Bunta goes out, he'll go out guns blazing. Yokohama ankokugai mashingan no ryu premiered in Japan today in 1976.
A long time ago there were three deadly assassins...
Kunoichi ninpo: Kannon biraki, for which you see a tateken size poster above, was known in English as Female Ninjas - In Bed with the Enemy, as well as Magic Female Ninjas: Open Altar Doors. The movie was a Toei Company production, and though it's a period piece set during Japan's Edo era, it has all the expected elements from Toei's mid-1970s output—those elements being action, nudity, and tough-as-nails women.
Three ninjas named Oyou, Oen, and Oran are sent on a mission to recover 30,000 ryou in stolen gold meant for the king as tax payments. The trio have at their disposal acrobatic physical abilities, masterful sword skills, magic spells, and super tight vaginas. They use the latter to perform tricks like the “insect pinch”—trapping a guy's penis until he confesses out of sheer pain. Sounds crazy, we know, but what can you say? Japanese films have a bit of a vagina fetish. Remember Onsen mimizu geisha and Reiko Ike's extraordinary pussy that feels like worms writhing? From that point, being able to crush dicks is just a logical progression.
In any case, the trio of ninjas, played by Megumi Hori, Keiko Kinugasa, and Maki Tachibana, set off across the land in search of the gold, and along the way they brave dangers, slice and dice, resist emotion, and get help from an unlikely quarter, finally realizing that the Sanada and Kuwagata clans were the culprits. Or were they? Tricks and betrayals may loom. As a hybrid ninja drama/pinku flick, we enjoyed Kunoichi ninpo: Kannon biraki quite a bit. It premiered today in 1976.
The Zu animals break loose and Tokyo is never the same.
Above is a promo poster for Toei Company's pinky violence hit Zubekô banchô: yume wa yoru hiraku, aka Tokyo Bad Girls, aka Delinquent Girl Boss: Blossoming Night Dreams, which premiered in Japan today in 1970. We already talked about the movie years back and showed you the tateken sized promo poster. Because we had this second piece of art, today we decided to be completist. Reiko Oshida and Keiko Fuji are still the main graphic elements, but some of the other bits have been rearranged. You can see the first piece, and also read about the movie, at this link.
Katayama finds herself with too much skin in the game.
Above you see two posters for the Japanese movie Tokugawa irezumi-shi: Seme jigoku, which is known in English as Inferno of Torture, and, occasionally, Hell's Tattooers. We aren't going to get too deeply into the film. It's where Japanese cinema delves into bondage and tattoo fetish layered with gore, and deals with two Edo-era master tattooists who play out a bitter rivalry on the skin of Yumiko Katayama, as well as other unfortunates. If you can tolerate the frontloaded blood and torture, the latter two thirds of the movie may be worth watching for the tattoos, which verge on magical rather than merely ornate. The set design and Teruo Ishii's direction are good too. The tateken sized promo at top is rare, if not even nonexistent online until this very moment, so we thought we'd share it. Tokugawa irezumi-shi: Seme jigoku premiered in Japan today in 1969. Below you see Katayama in a nice pose, untattooed.
Etsuko Shihomi looks soft but hits hard.
This rare poster was made to promote Onna hissatsu ken, aka Sister Street Fighter, which premiered in Japan today in 1974. The movie is fourth in the Street Fighter series, after The Street Fighter, The Return of the Street Fighter, and The Street Fighter's Last Revenge. In this one karate master and undercover drug agent Sonny Chiba goes missing in Tokyo, prompting his bosses to recruit his sister Etsuko Shihomi to search for him. Shihomi collects clues, allies, and esoteric enemies, but of course finally learns her brother is exactly where any viewer would expect—in the villain's lair, where he's been forcibly addicted to drugs.
Generally, penetrating these evil underground strongholds is perfunctory, but in this film Shihomi has more problems than usual. She'll get there, though—what's a ’70s martial arts film without a subterranean showdown? It's all a bit silly and clunky, if surprisingly gory at the end. Interestingly, the movie tries to be instructive, actually freeze-framing to label certain martial arts techniques, weapons, and important characters. Weird, but okay. In the end Shihomi wins using basic stick-to-itiveness—with nunchakus upside multiple male craniums. Oh, and by the way, there are lots of reversed swastikas in this film. We talked about those, but if you missed that discussion check here.
Sony Chiba battles the mob in a breakout performance.
How many movies did Sonny Chiba appear in? Like two-hundred? It must be close to that. These posters were made to promote his actioner Dasso yugi, known internationally as Escape Game, or alternatively as Jail Breakers. Chiba plays a career criminal who breaks out of the joint and ends up joining a cartel that specializes in prison breaks. They're “escape coordinators.” It's a great set-up for a flick. However, Chiba fans who haven't seen this should be forewarned that he's no martial arts master here. He's just a regular ex-con trying to make a fast yen in the face of long odds. It's a pretty good film, with nice twists, fun stunts, a cool soundtrack, and, in Chiba, one of the most bankable stars of ’70s Japanese cinema. And while the movie doesn't feature his trademark martial arts, it does feature Haruko Hanibuchi in a co-starring role, and she's an art form all her own. We'll show you what we mean a bit later. Dasso yugi premiered in Japan today in 1976.
A step by step guide to being a total badass.
This incredibly cool collectible poster was made to promote Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki, aka 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats, which is more girl gang goodness from the schlockmeisters at Toei Company. Etsuko Shihomi (sometimes spelled Shiomi) plays Maki of the 13 Steps, leader of the Stray Cats, a group of very tough, martial arts trained femi-delinquents. Maki and the gang bury an arrogant one percenter up to her neck on a beach in retaliation for a traffic related insult, which is all good fun, but the victim is Takako, daughter of the powerful, yakuza connected owner of Ebihara Tourism. Once she digs herself out of the sand she retaliates. This in turn brings re-retaliation from the Cats, which brings re-re-retaliation from Takako, and pretty soon things are well out of control.
The movie is based on an Ikki Kajiwara/Masaaki Satô comic, and director Makoto Naitô uses some amazing comic book style, multi-character framing, as seen in our screen grabs below. This is top notch work from Toei's pinky violence line, about as fun as a Japanese actioner gets. And in supporting roles you'll encounter Sonny Chiba, Meika Seri, and Yûko Kanô. Watching movies like this almost makes up for all the Nikkatsu roman porno misfires we slog through. Almost. Etsuko Shihomi is considered a bit of a film icon in Asia because her martial arts skills were real, and she appeared in so many movies. We have numerous posters of hers to share later and they're even more amazing than this one. Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Step one is here, on the bottom of my platform boot. Have a close look.
Step two is don't put your face where people tell you. We'll get to step three after you heal.
Time lapse at the local bar: 11pm to closing time.
You could try this attention getting move next time you go out to your favorite watering hole, but we don't recommend it for amateurs. Japanese actress Chiba Kobayashi, aka Chie Kobayashi, was a pro. She was a roman porno actress for Toei Company. It's difficult to unearth more online about her beyond what we just shared, but the mystery just adds to her allure. These photos are from 1972.
The outer part is nice and sweet but underneath is an unappetizing surprise.
Above, a promo image of Japanese actress Keiko Tatibana, aka Keiko Tachibana, who appeared in such films as Bôryoku Gonin Musume, aka Five Violent Girls, and Kyôretsu na jôji, aka Dazzling Affairs. In this photo we like to imagine a westerner asking her what she wears under her obi, and her pulling the gun and answering, “Anything I want, gaijin.” This is from 1967.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1919—Wilson Suffers Stroke
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. He is confined to bed for weeks, but eventually resumes his duties, though his participation is little more than perfunctory. Wilson remains disabled throughout the remainder of his term in office, and the rest of his life.
1968—Massacre in Mexico
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics
in Mexico City, a peaceful student demonstration ends in the Tlatelolco Massacre. 200 to 300 students are gunned down, and to this day there is no consensus about how or why the shooting began.
1910—Los Angeles Times Bombed
A massive dynamite bomb destroys the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles, California, killing 21 people. Police arrest James B. McNamara and his brother John J. McNamara. Though the brothers are represented by the era's most famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, of Scopes Monkey Trial fame, they eventually plead guilty. James is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. His brother John is convicted of a separate bombing of the Llewellyn Iron Works and also sent to prison.
1975—Ali Defeats Frazier in Manila
In the Philippines, an epic heavyweight boxing match known as the Thrilla in Manila takes place between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. It is the third, final and most brutal match between the two, and Ali wins by TKO in the fourteenth round.
1955—James Dean Dies in Auto Accident
American actor James Dean, who appeared in the films Giant
, East of Eden
, and the iconic Rebel without a Cause
, dies in an auto accident
at age 24 when his Porsche 550 Spyder is hit head-on by a larger Ford coupe. The driver of the Ford had been trying to make a left turn across the rural highway U.S. Route 466 and never saw Dean's small sports car approaching.
1962—Chavez Founds UFW
Mexican-American farm worker César Chávez founds the United Farm Workers in California. His strikes, marches and boycotts eventually result in improved working conditions for manual farm laborers and today his birthday is celebrated as a holiday in eight U.S. states.
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