Saturday, July 7, 2012

121. DEBAUCHERY (RYOSHOKU, 1983)

The first in a numbered series of Impulse Pictures releases collected under the banner "The Nikkatsu Erotic Films Series," DEBAUCHERY establishes the playing field for what the Japanese know as "eroductions" or "roman [meaning romantic] porno." As these films go, this is not an exceptional example, but it is acceptable B-erotica. At only 70 minutes, it feels more like a co-feature than a stand-alone entertainment.

Taking the lead from Buñuel's BELLE DE JOUR (1967), it's the story of Ami, an attractive doctor's wife in her early 30s, whose domestically tamed sexual nature is jump-started by an offhand remark from her husband, the handsome Dr. Fujina, that Dr. Kohsaka, a frequent dining and social friend of theirs and a colleague of his, with a somewhat evil look, may have long been secretly in love with her. Then, while gossiping with a girlfriend over lunch about a reputed call girl service known as Madam Machiko Society, Kohsaka appears, having overheard everything, and offers the two women his help in contacting the Madam. Ami secretly makes an appointment to be interviewed to work there, but she agrees to work only twice per week; Madam Machiko accepts her anyway, because she is unusually beautiful, but also because the odds are in favor of Ami becoming addicted to her work and accepting all she can get. Once Ami is "broken in" by a particularly rough, Oddjob sort of client, she realizes she has never before known such extremes of physical pleasure. ("I never felt like that before. I felt like I was being torn in half.") She continues to work with more frequency in a red boudoir, decked-out with whips and chains and other accessories, that sometimes reminds one of the set of VIDEODROME. But Ami doesn't know the full extent of sexual sadism until Kohsaka himself appears as her client, determined to torment her for the years she has neglected his desire for her in the private sector.

Take away the sometimes extreme, if softcore, kinkiness and its optical fogging of genitals and faked coupling, and you're left with fairly standard soap opera, scored with the airiest and simplest of synthesizer accompaniment, as well as some occasional insect-like buzzing to indicate what Ami describes as "the throbbing of my body." As Ami, Ryoko Watanabe makes a very watchable heroine, but the level of acting across the board is nowhere near so impressive as the actors' sumo-like ability to throw themselves, like pit bulls and rag dolls, into the acrobatic prowess of the violent bedroom scenes. The film's most intriguing aspect is Ami's fatalistic relationship with the one man she doesn't sleep with, an aging vagrant to whom she gives her first professional earnings (moreso out of disgust with selling herself than real charity), which he in turn uses to acquire a much younger woman of his own, leading him into a similarly punishing relationship and, in time, a second date of destiny with Ami. The happy ending posits Ami, after her experiment with sexual freedom, back in harness as her husband's sexual pet. Written and directed by Hidehiro Ito, whose most recent productions include the DTV movie VAMPIRE GIRL VS. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (2009).

Viewed via Impulse Pictures' DVD.    

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