|Hanzo the Razor: Sword of Justice|
Recently, I finally found the time to consume a Japanese trilogy I have had on my watch list for some time. Now I am shaking my head why I didn’t get to this series earlier…
HANZO THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE (1972), could possibly be described as a sexy jidaigeki (period drama) flick. It has a smattering of violent sword play mixed in with a healthy dose of boobies, blood and non-consensual sex. Written by manga god and filmed by Kazuo Koike the titanic Daiei contract director Kenji Misumi, this film was destined for greatness. The power combo mentioned above (Koike/Misumi) are responsible for some of my immediate favorites: the Baby Cart series, some of the Zatoichi series, Samurai Executioner, Path of the Assassin, Crying Freeman, Satan’s Sword, and we shant forget Lady Snowblood. Combine this with the veteran Zatoichi himself, a 40 year old Shintarō Katsu, and we have ourselves a bit of a kick-ass stew forming here.
The story begins by introducing us to Hanzo “The Razor” Itami, a government officer charged with doling out justice in Edo. He is infamous for his deadly response to any shenanigans that arise. He trains his mind and body for the job. Hanzo tortures himself with a strict schedule of bondage and self-discipline in a determined search for some aesthetic truth. He boxes using iron knuckles against stone statues and kneels on a spiked wooden matt while his henchmen pile stone blocks on his body. This nasty torture must have a sexual component to it because he always becomes aroused. He then focuses on his huge erection by pouring scalding water on his nuts. Next, he proceeds to beat his meat (literally) with a small wooden mallet and finishes his tour by vigorously humping a bail of rice. I cringed as I watched this as it was truly alarming.
Now, Hanzo is a bit of a libertarian. He believes whole-heartedly that the current government is corrupt and is crippling the peasantry. His immediate superiors for instance are taking bribes and Hanzo calls them on it directly to their greedy faces. This is something that would normally get one killed, but The Razor has specific knowledge of their wrong doings and uses it for blackmail. He is thus given carte blanche to run investigations his way, without the fear of being shut down by the man.
An infamous killer is reported as having escaped from a remote island that he was banished to. Hanzo takes it upon himself to track this brigand down. His investigation quickly leads to the murderer’s former lover who just so happens to be his boss’ mistress. Hanzo arranges for her to be abducted by his henchmen and brought to his special bondage boat. As they float down the river, he rapes the stuffing out of the poor girl. His virility is such that she quickly submits to his large member and becomes a slave to his touch. Just before she climaxes, he pulls out and forcefully interrogates her. Of course she gives up the goods as she is now in love with him.
This thread leads him up the food chain to some movers and shakers within Edo castle itself. He now has to interrogate a favourite retainer of the Shogun’s wife. This woman is beautiful and very arrogant due to her station. What do you think The Razor does in this situation? Good guess. He abducts her and rapes the snot out of her. His minions place her in a suspended cargo net and rhythmically jerk her up and down on Hanzo’s gargantuan obelisk. He does this nifty spin move with her and of course she is instantly in love. He finally deploys his patented finishing move - withdrawing right at the moment of her ecstasy and she is helpless. She tells all while they share some skinship in Hanzo’s bath.
Where does this all lead? Well the plot sort of fell apart here a little for me. Hanzo ends up in a showdown with the escaped murderer on a wind blasted bridge. I am not really sure how this came about as I had more than a few bowls of loud mouth soup in me by that time. I’ll guess you will have to watch this to get the full story. I apologize.
What I can comment on is the film’s photography. The director used some keen devices in this film that caught my eye. One technique was to rotoscope a pondering Hanzo on top of a map of Edo. While Hanzo is thinking, the map beneath his feet moves from the magistrate’s house to Edo castle. We can thus visually follow his train of thought. It was crude but I found it kind of neat. The director also used some sweet double exposure shots during the “romance” scenes. They are too X-rated for me to comment on here but they really need to be seen.
There were themes of corruption, hypocrisy, vengeance and justice throughout the story. Anarchy I think also plays a role, battling both strict government bureaucracy and sexual freedom. The end of the story had a disjointed little vignette regarding Hanzo helping a small girl euthanize her cancer riddled father. It was out of place and stuck out like a sore thumb. That is about my only beef.
I have to give this film my highest recommendation. The character of Hanzo the Razor is well conceived and I found myself fascinated by this anti-hero in a big way. He is pragmatic, violent, and not afraid to unleash his wang to defend the peasantry. Watch it.
I will review both sequels in upcoming reviews.
(Review by Zoltan)
(Review by Zoltan)
Violence Index: 2.5/5