Girl Boss Guerilla
(Sukeban Gerira) (1972)
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki

Artistic Value: * * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * * ½

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When an all-girl motorcycle gang from Tokyo rides into Kyoto, its members quickly find themselves in conflict with a local gang of delinquent girls. The leader of the former group, Sachiko (Miki Sugimoto), fights the leader of the latter one-on-one and wins, but then is saved from being attacked by her defeated rival's knife wielding followers only by the sudden arrival of Nami (Reiko Ike), a tough loner who happens to be the sister of a local yakuza. The Kyoto and Tokyo gangs coalesce under Sachiko's leadership and perpetrate a number of scams, including blackmailing a monk who preaches chastity but does not practice it, but these bring them into conflict with Nami's brother and his boss, the latter of whom demands a portion of their take. Sachiko refuses to kowtow, and the gangster sends his men after her. She is rescued by an aspiring boxer, Ichiro (Michitaro Mizushima), with whom she promptly has a sexual tryst. After this, she follows him, without his knowing, to a seaside resort, but, though she leaves Kyoto, Sachiko soon discovers that she has not escaped her troubles. The gangsters are annoyed with Ichiro for his interfering in their affairs and now want a cut of his earnings. Unfortunately for the protagonists, the yakuza are more than willing to use violence to get their way.

Norifumi Suzuki's Girl Boss Guerilla is a wild, violent, and sexy delight. I am not saying that it is a cinematic masterpiece, but it is a fun, exploitative romp.


The movie is absolutely packed with attractive young women, virtually all of whom, at one time or another, strip off their tops (sometimes for no apparent reason) to jiggle their breasts for the viewer's pleasure. When confronting a group of male ruffians early in the movie, for example, Sachiko opens her outfit and pulls out her left breast, to reveal that it is adorned with a tattoo of a serpent and a rose, as is the left breast of each of her cronies. Later, she has sex with Ichiro, first in his bedroom and subsequently at the edge of the sea, both of which sequences include numerous shots of her chest bouncing rhythmically or being fondled by her lover. Sachiko is not the only amorous character in the movie, however. One of her underlings has sex with an old man, a Catholic priest, and several yakuza. Although the last of these incidents is actually more funny than it is sexy, since the woman only does it to give the men the clap, which she contracted from the priest, all of these sequences burn with a joyous sensuality. Even the fights the female protagonists engage in are generally sexy. These battles frequently lead to the women losing their clothing so that they expose themselves to the camera. The film is deliriously and gleefully raunchy.


In fact, Suzuki revels in depicting catfights. Over and over again, one of his female characters engages in a hand-to-hand battle with another. These struggles are often as racy as are the film's sex scenes, and are, moreover, suffused with a real viciousness. The girls slap and punch one another. They pull each others' hair, wrestle energetically, knock each other into bodies of water (to wet their clothes), and, as already mentioned, rip each others' garments to shreds. Girl Boss Guerilla really has a delightful and honest sleaziness.

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The movie does not, however, consist solely of depictions of sex, violence, and sex and violence. A large part of it is concerned with the protagonists' misadventures. Suzuki repeatedly shows their various scams, revealing how they manage to steal from, intimidate, and otherwise take advantage of the good citizens of Kyoto. Many of these incidents, I might add, have a comic tone. There are even occasional moments of slapstick and scatological humor. For instance, after the girls take photos of the monk they intend to blackmail while he is having sex with a nun, one of them crawls under a latrine to retrieve the condom he used, but, before she can grab it, the nun unknowingly urinates on her head. These schemes are not, however, the protagonists' only concerns. Their money-making efforts also bring them into conflict with the local yakuza, who want a part of their earnings. The ensuing struggles form an important part of the narrative and are generally of a more serious nature, being frequently suffused with a sense of genuine danger. This conflict also allows Girl Boss Guerilla to move to an impressive and brutal climax. During the movie's final act, the viewer is shown a man being stabbed to death, a woman being dragged face down behind a motorcycle, a nude woman being strangled and sexually assaulted, numerous canings of various women (one of these beatings, in which a woman's exposed breasts are targeted, is particularly grisly and gruelling), and yet other vicious incidents besides these.


Fortunately, all of these elements are well realized. The performers consistently acquit themselves well. Ms Sugimoto and Ms Ike are particularly good, each bringing a sense of fun, sexiness, harshness, tragedy, and concealed vulnerability to her character. What is more, Suzuki occasionally adds to his work touches of visual brilliance. There are a few gorgeous scenes scattered throughout Girl Boss Guerilla. In one, the protagonists are gathered around a seaside pyre before a glowing golden sky. In another, Sachiko and Ichiro have sex upon a rocky beach amid the crashing waves of the sea, and, in countless others, the intense yet beautiful face of one or another of the heroines is shown in close-up. Actually, there are quite a few visually memorable moments in the film.


The sleazy and lurid events that make up the bulk of Girl Boss Guerilla are all so shamelessly naughty that they are always entertaining. Suzuki clearly set out to make a fun exploitation film, and he has succeeded in doing so.

Review by Keith Allen

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