Girl Boss Revenge
(Sukeban) (1973)
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki

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

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Two incarcerated juvenile delinquents, Komasa (Miki Sugimoto) and Maya (Reiko Ike), have an altercation while they and several other female prisoners are being transported cross-country in a paddy wagon. Immediately after the fight ends, with Komasa stabbing Maya's hand, the vehicle the pair are in is forced to stop when a truck that passed it spills its load on the road. It turns out that the truck is being driven by Maya's accomplices, and they free her from the police. The other girls, seeing their own chance to get away, also make their escape. Once free, they decide to follow Komasa, having been impressed by her toughness, and she leads them to Osaka. They quickly find themselves embroiled in fights with another girl gang and discover that Maya is also living there with her lover, a yakuza boss who is abducting women and viciously training them so that they can work as prostitutes in a brothel he is planning on opening. Komasa now becomes involved in a conflict with Maya and the yakuza, though both she and her followers are forced both to endure and to perpetrate numerous acts of violence as a result of this.

Norifumi Suzuki's Girl Boss Revenge may not be alive with the wild images, weird lighting, extreme violence, and leering sexuality that many of the director's other films are, but it is still an engaging, exploitative movie with doses of all of these elements present.


The movie is entertaining. For one thing, the lives of the protagonists are portrayed in a way that allows the viewer to sympathize and involve himself with them. He sees their troubles, how they are exploited and brutalized, and how they are forced to engage in petty theft and various schemes to survive. I might add that although many of these events are brutal or tragic, some are also infused with humor. At one point, for instance, the girls, needing to survive, catch pigeons with a net, cook the birds on a grill set up on the road, and sell them to passersby. The sequence is pathetic (in its depiction of what the women must do to survive), but it is silly as well.


What is more, the film is consistently exciting. There are numerous catfights, schemes concocted by the fugitive protagonists as well as by their vicious foes, and countless acts of savagery. Various women brawl with one another, or with the men who are their real enemies. Thuggish yakuza rape and torture the female protagonists or other women, and the women struggle both to retain their dignity and to get revenge for indignities they have been made to suffer. Even if it is not as extreme as are many other works from the same genre, the movie is, nonetheless, full of deliciously lurid fun.


Admittedly, as I already noted, Girl Boss Revenge is not as visually impressive as are some of Norifumi Suzuki's other films, but, that said, it is nicely realized. It simply has a more conventional look than do those works. While the viewer might not be drawn into some strange otherworldly realm, as he likely will be should he watch many of the other things the director has done, he is still certain to find himself immersed in a very real and very harsh world of poverty, violence, and excitement. The director's depiction of the universe his protagonists inhabit is nicely done.


Finally, I must note that both Miki Sugimoto and Reiko Ike acquit themselves well. Their best work is not to be found here, but both are appealing in their roles.


Girl Boss Revenge is not a great film, nor is it a particularly daring one. It is, however, an entertaining exploitation movie.

Review by Keith Allen

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