The second film in the Comica Obscura Marathon is a heart rendering tale of a boy and his father, or maybe not!
Screenplay By: Kazuo Koike
Directed By: Kenji Misumi
Revenge tales are not always easily done. It feels like they should be, for all intents and purposes at least. The idea is a simple one after all, something happens to someone and revenge is sought. Storytelling really doesn’t get any simpler than that. Yet, it can be and often is very difficult for the cinematic process to tackle the concept of revenge in an even handed and satisfying manner. Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru is a film that is about revenge, but like so many revenge movies before and after it struggles with handling the concept of revenge.
There are definite strengths to Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru, and it is far from a bad movie. The elements that stuck out to me the most were the use of sound and the color of blood. There are many instances of silence in Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru, and it’s silent in moments that aren’t asking for silence. In the middle of a fight, of massive bloodletting, the sound will cut out. It is an odd technique that creates an eerie atmosphere. The lack of sound in those tiny spaces feels wrong, or to put it better it made me as the viewer think that something was afoot. I was put in a state of unease which made the action stand out all the more, and made the reintroduction of the slashing and blood spilling pop that much more in my ears.
The aforementioned color of the blood is a slice of B-movie awesomeness. In a serious film about the exploits of this father and son the blood would be less and it would be normal color. The blood in Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru is bountiful and it is cartoonishly red. The effect this had on me was to cause a knowing chuckle and a sense that I was a part of something cool. The blood is an integral aspect to a revenge movie of the type of Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru and the fact that it flows so freely and is so colorful is of great benefit to the film.
Where Kenji Misumi struggles with his revenge tale is in the films more lurid aspects. The baring of breasts for breast feeding was not lurid as it was touched upon on more than one occasion and did tie into the nurturing theme of the film. However, there was one rape and one scene of a naked woman getting into a hot bath that did not serve a purpose within the film except to be exploitative. The rape is meant to showcase the evil nature of the bandits at the hot spring. The issue I took with showing the rape was that there is a later sex scene and other instances that do a fine job of showcasing the evil nature of the bandits. With that being the case the rape scene is tacked on and exploitative for the sake of titillation and that did not sit well with me.
The scene of Osen entering the bath bare chested is a typical case of needless nudity within a film. The actress playing Osen is a fine looking lady, and I’m a guy, so of course seeing her bare chested had the desired effect downstairs. But, thinking about her bare chested appearance beyond simple male enjoyment it becomes clear that her nudity serves no purpose at all within the film. Oson had previously been naked, and having her appear naked a second time with no justification for her nudity struck me as the film reaching for the lowest common denominator.
It is in the above two instances that I found Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru to fall short of being even handed in its presentation of revenge. I know some will argue that Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru is an exploitation film not looking to be even handed in its subject matter. I disagree with that sentiment. There is a heft to the themes in Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru, and there is an obvious skill in the direction of Misumi-san as far as visuals are concerned. Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru is a film that wants to have its cake and eat it too, to be both artistic and B movie exploitation. Misumi-san’s film falls just short of being both things and ends up as an uneven but interesting film. I did enjoy my time with Kozure Ôkami: Ko Wo Kashi Ude Kashi Tsukamatsuru and if nothing else it has me interested in checking out the sequels and seeing how the future movies progress with the issues that trouble the first of the series.
Read what Edgar had to say at Between The Seats.