The Pinky Violence Collection (1977-73) from Tuna

Since I love exploitation in general, women in prison films in particular, and all films that give me a glimpse into another culture, I am excited to discover Pinky Violence films, a major sub-genre of Japanese exploitation films from the 1970s, basically consisting of ultraviolent delinquent girl films. Most start as "women in prison" films to set up the characters, then jump ahead into the story. Since the big screen staple at the time consisted of Yakuza films, the gangs were usually the next stop after prison.

These films came about when the Japanese studios were in sharp decline because of the increasing popularity of television. The studio bosses decided to give the public some things they couldn't see on TV, namely sex and violence. These films were produced quickly and cheaply, but professionally, and all are all shot on 35 mm and presented in widescreen aspect ratios. Since costs were low and ticket sales brisk, the concept worked as a commercial venture. Since the films were ground out by experienced filmmakers through established studios, the films sported solid production values and were of reasonable artistic quality as well. They even included a strong subtext of social commentary, although it was buried inside the exploitation format. The films often portray political corruption, as well as the conflict between the traditional Japanese conception of womanhood and the reality of these street girls' lives. The women are shown as anything but demure and subservient. They are often much smarter and tougher than the Yakuza, which is contrary to the politically correct notions of the contemporary Japanese culture. In a way, these films are to working class Japanese women what the blacksploitation films of the same era were to American blacks, because the women are uncharacteristically empowered.

Most analysts feel that these films aren't nearly as dated as American exploitation films of the era, perhaps because the lives on the lower rungs of Japanese society have not changed much in the intervening decades.


Criminal Woman Killing Melody (1973)

This film is directed by Atsushi Mihori.

Criminal Woman Killing Melody opens with Reiko Ike walking into a club, and trying to massacre a Yakuza gang single-handed with a sword. She is, of course, arrested, and is morose in prison. Her unwillingness to tell her story ends in a catfight with Miki Sugimoto, who is more or less the cell boss, and is the girl of a Yakuza leader. This long battle was the first of two major catfights between the two women, whose scraps were a staple of the genre. Reiko Ike leapt to stardom with Toei studios, then was advised by her managers that all the nude work was hurting her singing career, so she left acting, and Sugimoto became the genre superstar. When Ike, regretting her choice, returned to films, the studio made much of the rivalry between Ike and Sugimoto, casting them as opposing characters, and alternating the lead roles between them. They have a catfight in most of these films. This particular one is like the famous fight in Cool Hand Luke, in that the less experienced Ike is not very effective, but never quits, and the fight ends in a draw.

Cut to several years into the future. Ike is out, and is after revenge on the entire Yakuza mob that killed her father, a minor drug peddler, and then raped her. Three former classmates join in, and they plot to give the Yakuza a financial screwing, and then do them in. Naturally, her former cellmate Miki Sugimoto is the moll of the very Yakuza leader that Ike wants to take down. The plan is to convince her target gang to fight against a rival gang.

The director knew how to dress a set, choreograph a scene, and pick color palettes. Even his worst scenes are well done, and the best ones are beautifully executed. He frequently shifts rapidly from violence to sex to suspense to comic relief, but the transitions were less jarring than fascinating, simply because you will rarely be able to predict what is coming next.

Nudity Report: In addition to two catfights between Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimoto, both women show breasts in several scenes and the film is generally filled with nudity, sex, BD/SM, and tattoos. (In all of these films, the girl gang members have intimate tattoos identifying them as gang members. In this case, they are breast tattoos.)


Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom (1973)

This one was directed by Norifumi Suzuki, who is to Pinky Violence films as Sergio Leone is to Spaghetti Westerns. His Sex and Fury was the inspiration for Tarantino's Kill Bill movies. The DVD's accompanying booklet summarizes his attitude toward filmmaking: Suzuki offers up "long stretches of inspired visual brilliance, shocking juxtapositions, and outrageously original variations on standard action formulas. Just as often, we get juvenile, clumsily-inserted comic relief and haphazard transitions. Suzuki could be a truly great filmmaker when he was in the mood, but ... he didn't really give a damn and was apparently not interested in art, only in having a few laughs and an undisciplined good time while sporadically throwing in startling situations and mind-blowing visual pyrotechnics - just to remind us he could be great when he wanted."

We open in a school for wayward girls, where a group of girls in sailor uniforms, identified as the discipline committee, tortures another girl to death. We soon learn that the discipline committee was established by the vice principal to torture any students who cause him trouble. He assigns them to orientate the new girls. Although he is engaged to his assistant, Jun Midorikawa, he is clearly having sex with the girls in the discipline team.

Miki Sugimoto soon enrolls in the school with two other new girls. It becomes clear that Miki has come to the school to revenge the death of the girl from the opening scene, who was the second-in-command of her girl gang. (Reiko Ike has a cameo role in this one as a rival gang leader who wants her customary catfight with Miki, but will wait until Miki has her revenge.)

To complicate things further, a young paparazzi/journalist is hatching schemes to blackmail local politicians, all of whom are connected to the school. His scheme is chiefly to get photos of them in compromising positions with the school girls. As the powers that be begin their rapid descent, Jun Midorikawa has sex with "The Chairman" to "clean up her husband's mess." She is wearing all white, and he uses a vibrator with a red center on her, making fun of the Japanese flag. I mention this as a key to what these films are all about. Director Suzuki is demonstrating that the formal respectability in Japanese society is a thin veneer, and one need not look far below the surface to see that members of the establishment are often perverted. Suzuki championed the marginalized in society, most especially wayward girls. You can imagine how this was received by the young Japanese audiences who saw these films.

Nudity Report: Miki Sugimoto shows only breasts this time, but Jun Midorikawa shows breasts and buns. All of Suzuki's films contain as much nudity and sex as the Japanese censors would allow, and a liberal dose of BD/SM as well.  In this one, a girl is forced to drink water, then kept from using the bathroom, until she finally pees all over her school desk in class. The baddies also tie girls up, and connect electricity to their nipples and vaginas. As usual, there are plenty of catfights as well.


Girl Boss Guerilla (1973)

This was also directed by Norifumi Suzuki, and had more comic relief than most of the other Pinky Violence films. Unexpected comedy was a staple of Suzuki's films.

Girl Boss Guerilla stars Miki Sugimoto as the leader of the "Red Helmets," a Tokyo gang of four motorcycle girls who decide to visit Kyoto. They immediately run afoul of the Kyoto girl mob, leading to the first major catfight. Then Reiko Ike, the former leader of the Kyoto bunch, arrives for her obligatory one-on-one fight with Miki Sugimoto. Miki wins the catfight this time, and takes over control of the local girl gangs. Most of the girls' schemes involve sex and blackmail, and they even corrupt a nun into joining them to blackmail a priest, who ends up giving them the clap. Miki is a little too greedy and independent for the Yakuza, and is constantly being tortured by them. For anyone who has seen more than one of these films, it is clear that there will be a final bloody showdown between the girl gang and the Yakuza.

Nudity Report: Nude scenes provide breasts from Miki Sugimoto, Reiko Ike, and a host of unknowns, and include bondage, and whipping. There is also an homage to the beach scene in From Here to Eternity with Sugimoto. 


Delinquent Girl Boss: Worthless to Confess (1971)

This one was directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

In this case, Reiko Oshida, who starred in all four Delinquent Girl Boss films, is a loveable reform school girl. Upon her release, she starts meeting friends from school, most of whom work as bar girls. When she stops at the business of a former classmate to return something to her, she finds that the classmate is living with a no-good gambler and Yakuza thug, and that the Yakuza are trying to put the woman's father out of business by using gambling debts run up by her husband. The beleaguered father offers Reiko a job and a place to stay. The former classmates become closer, and then decide to help the old man. This means going after the Yakuza.

Nudity Report: Reiko Oshida is seen here in a bra and panties. Yumiko Katayama shows breasts in a shower and buns in a hot bath.



  • The four films above are included in The Pinky Violence Collection

  • Each of the films includes a commentary track, and rather nice subtitles, which make some effort to not only translate the dialogue, but provide the same connotation in English as the original Japanese

  • There is also CD of Reiko Ike songs, and a good deal of textual information in a collectible booklet.



See the individual commentary for each film.

IMDb ...


IMDb ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this DVD collection is a very strong C+. It is absolutely top-of-the-line genre material. I highly recommend the Pinky Violence Collection, which includes four of the best of the genre, a CD of Reiko Ike songs, and a good deal of textual information.

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