(Konketsuji Rika) (1972)
Directed by Ko Nakahira

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

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Rica (Rika Aoki), the daughter of a white American soldier and the Japanese schoolgirl he raped, is raised by her mother, who eventually becomes a professional mistress primarily interested in living the high life. Rica endures this existence, but, when she herself is raped as a teenager by her mother's lover, she is overcome by anger, stabs a man who propositions her in a bar, and becomes a juvenile delinquent. Some time later, after a girl in her gang, who was raped and impregnated by a yakuza, a member of the Tachibana group, takes poison to end her own life, Rica delivers the corpse of the woman's stillborn child to its father. He subsequently confronts Rica in a club, but she kills him in the fight that ensues. Rica is promptly arrested for this, but escapes, only to discover that the Tachibana, having captured and raped all the members of her gang, are planning to sell them into prostitution in Vietnam so that they can service American soldiers deployed there. Rica goes to the man shipping the women, and he says he will sell them to her for three million yen if she delivers the money to him by six that evening. Rica promptly blackmails the man who previously raped her, but is attacked by a gang of yakuza, who so outnumber her that she only survives as a result of a stranger, Tetsu (Fuminori Sato), coming to her aid. Having been so delayed, Rica fails to get the money to the trafficker in time and the members of her gang are sent to Vietnam. Meanwhile, the boss of the Tachibana gang, annoyed with Tetsu, orders his men to kidnap Tetsu's girlfriend, whom they imprison and sexually assault. Rica, feeling indebted to Tetsu, goes to the boss of the Tachibana and asks him to leave the man alone, and the yakuza agrees, if Rica will dance naked in his club. She does perform a musical number there while dressed in a bikini, but soon gets into more trouble with the Tachibana. After learning that her mother is working in a department store as a scrubwoman, Rica goes there and chances to see a pickpocket employed by the yakuza stealing a briefcase (which happens to contain secret development plans the Tachibana hope to use to make money). When the boss of the Tachibana learns that Rica saw the briefcase being stolen, he orders the pickpocket to kill her, but she seduces him, chops off his forearm, takes it to a bar the boss frequents, and tosses it onto the table at which he is sitting. The boss then has Rica captured and thrown into the sea, but she survives, returns to see him shoot the now one armed pickpocket in the head, and proceeds to stab the man in the heart. For doing so, Rica is sent back to reform school, where she gets into a fight with Reiko (Kazuko Nagamoto), another female inmate, during which a knife is thrown, accidentally killing a warden. The other girl escapes, along with a number of the others, during a fire that happens at the same time, and Rica, who remains behind, insists that she did not throw the knife. In order to prove her innocence, she too escapes. Then, while on the run, Rica happens to see one of the other girls, Hanako (Masami Souda), a half black woman, taking her lover, Jimmy, a black American soldier on his way to Vietnam, into a building to have sex. Unfortunately, this romance proves to be short-lived. Jimmy deserts, is discovered by the MPs, tries to flee, and is shot in the back. Rica, meanwhile, finds both Tetsu and Reiko. She has another fight with the latter, and the former gives her information about the members of her gang who were sent to Vietnam. Before Rica can act on this, however, she, while trying to fight Reiko one more time, is captured by yakuza, along with Reiko and her all female gang. Fortunately, Rica is rescued by Tetsu and sets out to save her erstwhile enemy and defeat the men trying to sell them into prostitution overseas.

Ko Nakahira's Rica is a wild, exciting, sexy, and lurid exploitation film. It is, in fact, wonderfully fun from beginning to end.


The movie's ridiculously complicated story is told at such a frenetic pace that the viewer is sure to find himself carried away by it. The heroine is tossed or rushes into one predicament after another without a pause in between these. I cannot begin to express how frenzied the story Nakahira tells is. Fortunately, not only are Rica's adventures burning with danger, but they are also filled with nasty details, unpleasant surprises, raunchy sex, and even romance. Some of the events are just odd. One scene, for instance, is concerned only with showing Rica singing and dancing in a nightclub while wearing a bikini. I cannot even begin to convey how hectic the film is. Rica never slows down.

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What is more, this tale is alive with a sleazy, leering, and brutal sexuality. In the majority of Rica's sex scenes, the viewer is shown some woman being victimized by a male attacker. At one time or another, Rica is raped by her mother's lover, the members of her gang are raped by yakuza thugs, Reiko and her followers are stripped and assaulted by gangsters, and so on and so on. All of these sequences (of which there are a substantial number) are nicely done, being, at once, sexy and disturbing. They are suffused with the excitement of the attackers and the pain of the victims and so simultaneously arouse poignant feelings of cruelty and empathy. The few sex scenes in which the woman involved is not being raped are good as well. In one of these, Rica, having seduced a man sent to kill her, has sex with him before letting him know he has been deceived by her, and, in another, Hanako, Rika's half black friend from reform school, makes love to the soldier for whom she has fallen. The first of these scenes actually arouses feelings of sensuality and cunning, while the latter evokes a real tenderness. All of these scenes, and the film as a whole, evince the director's deep appreciation of the beauty of the female body. Nakahira frequently displays the naked torsos of his female performers, virtually all of whom remove their garments at some point or another. In one particularly memorable sequence, Reiko tears off her top to reveal her elaborately tattooed body, and Rika Aoki loses her clothes on numerous occasions, every one of which is sensuous and enjoyable.


The movie's action sequences are just as exciting. I will not claim that they are brilliantly choreographed, but they are frequently vicious and grisly enough so that they have an enthralling harshness. At different times, Rica is shown kicking or beating some man to death, taking on entire gangs of yakuza, amputating the hand of a man sent to murder her (with his own knife), fighting a female prisoner, Reiko, while in detention, and so on and so on. The movie is packed with such sequences.


As many appealing elements as there are in Rica, the film still has a number of flaws. It is generally pedestrian visually, and the acting is never more than mediocre. Even Rika Aoki herself, though she is appealing and has a vibrant presence, is not likely to awe the viewer with her skills. She is neither a great actress nor a great performer of action sequences. That said, she is never inept, and she does have considerable energy, a genuine earnestness, and an appealing presence so that she is always a pleasure to watch.


Rica is hardly a work of art, but it is a wonderfully entertaining exploitation film.


Review by Keith Allen

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