Kifujin Shibari Tsubo (Noble Lady Bound Vase) (Masaru Konuma, 1977)
[note: review originally published 20Jul2011]
In America, you’d never see a cover like this on a movie that isn’t considered porn, not even the kind of cheap exploitation film this is.
I don’t know why it continues to surprise me that subgenres that appeared, in essence, exclusively in foreign film markets sometimes house bad movies. I am discovering somewhat rapidly that this seems especially true when it comes to Japan’s notorious pinky-violence genre. While there’s no arguing some fantastic works came out of the genre, there’s also a lot of, well, crap. That that should be the case in a genre devoted to cheap exploitation films is probably no surprise to anyone but me, actually.
Takagi seems quite happy with the proceedings. Of course, he’s not the one tied up.
Masaru Konuma’s twenty-fourth feature is pretty much of a piece with a lot of his earlier ones (such as the timeless Wife to Be Sacrificed and Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confession, sure to bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened sociopath). What’s surprising is how much Western influence shows in this one (which was released in English-speaking countries, however briefly, under the title Noble Lady Bound Vase); you can trace a pretty basic genealogy straight back to Just Jaeckin here, both in the weak, watery “eroticism” the film conveys and in the casual, and thus entirely ineffective, attempts at getting a behind-the-scenes look at extreme BDSM/slavery.
Paper-thin plot: Naniji (pinky star Naomi Tani, who retired from showbiz in 1979 and became a restauranteur) is a noblewoman whose father sold her to the brutish Yoshino (Throne of Blood‘s Hitoshi Takagi) to pay off gambling debts. Yoshino married Naniji, and now subjects her to the life of a slave; she pleasures him whenever necessary, is given freely to his associates, and spends a good deal of time tied up, locked up, or otherwise restrained. The only thing that keeps her going is her continuing love for her ex-boyfriend, a respected doctor to whom she still writes (Akira Hanagami, who the same year would appear in a remake of pinky classic Gate of Flesh). When Yoshino finds out about Naniji still being in contact with her ex, his punishment of her is severe, but to add to the humiliation, Yoshino invites the good doctor down to the house for a weekend…
The subtitle pretty much says it all.
Unlike the films of Seijun Suzuki, the pinky master, Noble Lady Bound Vase exists for no reason other than to depict slavery and humiliation. The emotional twists and turns of the film are not an attempt to get to know these characters as much as mechanisms that allow the basic plot to flow. And if you can’t care about Naniji as a person, why on earth would you care what happens to her? That’s what makes the film ineffective. * ½
Sorry, trailer freaks, you’re out of luck. I can’t even find clips on youtube!