Cinema Strikes BackContact

NewsReviewsDVD CalendarContestsFilm FestivalsMoviesPeopleInterviewsLinksAboutContact
Bohachi Bushido – Code of the Forgotten Eight: Rigorous Parodic Sleaze from Teruo Ishii
Posted on 10.20.08 by David @ 9:23 am

AKA: Porno Jidaigeki: Bohachi bushido
Country and Year: Japan (1973)
Director: Teruo Ishii
Starring: Tetsuro Tamba, Goro Ibuki, Tatsuo Endo, Ryohei Uchida, Yuriko Hishimi

Review By: David Austin
Rating: 2 ½ out of 4 stars (above average)

Bohachi Bushido

Bohachi Bushido is proof that, while Teruo Ishii might not always have brought the most disciplined and sophisticated visual sense to the table, when focused he was capable of some gorgeous work. Indeed, with Bohachi Bushido, Ishii shows he could be a match for the formal rigor of his colleague Norifumi Suzuki, usually by far the greater visual stylist as demonstrated in films like School of the Holy Beast and Terrifying Girls’ High School: Lynch Law Classroom.

Those familiar only with The Executioner series, where Ishii killed time by having Sonny Chiba pick his nose and put it in people’s drinks, will be shocked to learn that Bohachi Bushido comes from the same director. Ishii’s works have always been stagy, but here his direction tips over the line into full-blown theatrical. Characters scheme and declaim their lines as if in a Kabuki drama. Even his images of the classic Yoshiwara red light district of Edo (pre-Meiji restoration Tokyo) are drawn as if from an old ukiyoe print, with crowded horizontal planes filled with bars, theaters, and pleasure-seekers.

Bohachi Bushido

The entire film is stylized, with rarely a “realistic” moment. Ishii leads off with a battle that would not be out of place in the Lone Wolf and Cub films. The cold open finds us in media res as the protagonist faces off with his enemies in a highly dramatic fashion a cartoonishly backlit bridge. Slow motion is heavily utilized, as are geysers of blood. Ishii even makes a comical point of spinning the cast names out of splattering blood, dismembered bodies and sparks from shattered samurai swords, foreshadowing the seminal opening credits of Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer. Later battles showcase such eye-poppers as eight nude female killers taking on a ninja armed with a chain dagger in a field at night.

Bohachi Bushido

The plot is something of a clothes-hanger. Savvy viewers, familiar with the comics of writer Kazuo Koike, upon whose work this film is based, already will have some idea of what to expect. Koike, author of the original manga Lone Wolf & Cub, Lady Snowblood, and Hanzo the Razor, is a maestro of sex and violence, creating gory but intelligent samurai masterpieces that were adapted into some of the key works of Japanese grindhouse cinema of the 1970s (as the above titles should make clear). Here Ishii combines Koike’s violent aesthetic with a narcotized dreamlike atmosphere that would not be out of place in an Italian horror film.

The film is set among the Bohachi yakuza subculture of panderers and pimps in the Yoshiwara. The Bohachi – “beasts masked in human skin” – acquire and train prostitutes in a highly ritualistic and fetishistic fashion. They are presented as a fascinatingly contrary group. While the most amoral of the Yakuza tribes, they nevertheless are strictly wedded to a code. However, their code, their ethos, is expressed solely in negation. The Bohachi’s vows require the abandonment of loyalty, trust, shame, etc. – the “Forgotten Eight Virtues.” The story is as much about their customs and ways as it is about the “plot.” In that sense, it is classic Koike - the writer relished dissecting the criminal strata of Tokugawa-era Japan.

Bohachi Bushido

The lead, played by Tetsuro Tamba, is Shino, an aimless assassin. It is a rare starring role for the prolific Tamba, who excelled at cameos. Here Tamba shares central stage with a hairpiece that goes way past ridiculous. Shino becomes embroiled in the Bohachi’s schemes to control all of the Yoshiwara by punishing all johns and prostitutes who fail to pay their dues to the Bohachi.

Bohachi Bushido

In addition to Tamba, Bohachi Bushido stars a number of other Japanese genre stalwarts. The Bohachi’s second-in-command, Kesazo Shirakubi, is played by Goro Ibuki (of the superb Battles Without Honor and Humanity series) in wonderfully surreal fashion. Shirakubi makes no secret of his intentions to profit from Shino’s downfall and his willingness to perform any act necessary. Perhaps as a result, Shirakubi comes off as a worthy and even ambiguously appealing adversary. Ibuki and Tamba share one of the film’s best moments – a gun versus sword showdown featuring a spotlight and faux slow-motion that is one of Ishii’s most effective in-camera tricks.

Boss Shirobei of the Bohachi is played by the distinctive Tatsuo Endo, who specialized in such roles as evil authority figures, be they Yakuza Oyabuns, clan elders or corrupt politicians. Endo is one of those actors whose name you might not know, but whose face you have seen a thousand times. And finally, the ninja who takes on the pack of naked beauties is Ryohei Uchida, who had a similarly busy career in Yakuza films.

Bohachi Bushido

Bohachi Bushido almost could pass for a Criterion-approved Kihachi Okamoto masterpiece like Sword of Doom or a Hideo Gosha film but for the sheer volume of naked flesh on display and the tongue-in-cheek approach to the material. Indeed, Bohachi Bushido actually achieves the odd effect of making nudity commonplace. Almost every frame of the film is so packed with naked women that breasts become background noise. You can see it in the resignation on star Tetsuro Tamba’s face – “ What, more naked women running around? Oh, if we must.” Of course, that blasé attitude may reflect more on Tamba’s lifestyle than any on the film.

Bohachi Bushido

Recommended? I had low expectations for this one, especially given the title “Porno Jidaigeki” or “Pornographic Period Piece.” I did not find it to be pornographic, though it is quite sleazy, and I was pleasantly surprised to find one of Ishii’s better films.

If you like this, you might like: Lone Wolf & Cub, Lady Snowblood, Hanzo the Razor, Female Convict Scorpion, Sword of Doom

::: See additional coverage of Teruo Ishii
::: See additional coverage of Tetsuro Tamba
::: See additional coverage of Discotek releases

DVD DETAILS

DVD Production Company: Discotek (www.discotekmedia.com)
Run Time: 81 Mins
Extras: Audio commentary with J-Taro and Takao Nakano, Liner Notes, Interview with Yuriko Hishimi, Interview with author J-Taro Sugisaku, Manga to Film

Discotek’s 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen print looks gorgeous. The disc also contains a number of interesting extras. First up are two essays, liner notes by Chris D. of American Cinematheque and a discussion of the screening of the film at a recent retrospective by film critic Mark Schilling. Also included are two interviews – one with Yuriko Hishimi who plays a prominent woman of the Bohachi in the film and another by J-Taro Sugisaku, contributor to a book on Toei Pinky Violence. Sugisaku also participates in an audio commentary with cult director/writer Takao Nakano. Finale there are lengthy excerpts from the original manga provided for comparison purposes and a photo gallery with a number of stills from the film as well as shots of director Ishii and his notes on the film. Also included are trailers for a number of Discotek releases.

© David Austin


Filed under: Movie Reviews and Movie Reviews: Japan and DVD Reviews and DVD Reviews: Japan and Contributors: David and Rating: Average ★★ and DVD Companies: Discotek and People: Teruo Ishii and Studios: Toei and People: Tetsuro Tamba
Comments:

2 Comments »

  1. Hi
    I’m a fan of your blog for a few months now and you are one of the best reasons to push me to create of own (sorry for my english). If you don’t mind to watch what I am doing, I’ll be very pleased! Thank you again for your work! Bye and see you soon!
    Vince

    Comment by vince — October 21, 2008 @ 4:32 am


  2. Many thanks for the excellent review on the classic Japanese pink film Bohachi Bushido. The film ranks among the pink greats such as Sex and Fury and Female Yakuza Tale.

    I understand that there was a sequel to Bohachi Bushido in 1974 entitled Saburai Way of the Bohachi directed by Takashi Harada.

    It would be good if there was a review of that sequel as well.

    Looking forward to your reply. Please write to me if possible regarding the review to Bohachi Bushido’s sequel.

    Comment by Fork — March 26, 2011 @ 3:37 am


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)



Search

Latest Movie News

WordPress database error: [Can't create/write to file '/tmp/#sql_c36_0.MYI' (Errcode: 30)]
SELECT DISTINCT * FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_post2cat ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_post2cat.post_id) WHERE wp_posts.post_date <= '2014-11-01 07:11:18' AND ( wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'sticky' ) AND wp_posts.post_password = '' AND ( wp_post2cat.category_id = '2' ) GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5

 

* Shusuke Kaneko
* Malik Bader
* Nobuhiro Yamashita
* Sabu
* Johnnie To
* Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
* Bong Joon-Ho
 
Recent Comments
Dev: I think most of the obvious pleacs have all been used so much that
Anura Padeniya: The movie, Three Yellow Cats is available at Amazon with other Kommissar X movies, but
John Adams: MY TRIBUTE TO KUNG FU MASTER his movies are fantastic will miss JIM KELLY a
hans: David, you need to check your facts. Avid hk movie watchers will remember that Anthony
suresh: ramsay brothers plz make horror movie like veerana and tahkhana im huge fan of ur
Harry: Lot of homoeroticism in the film, as the retarded thugs eye off and grapple with
May: I love Death note and all about them. but, specially L. Lawliet and Matsuyama Kenichi. You're so
Michael Edgecumbe: Where can I obtain any form of copy of this film? It was shot in the
JANAUTICA DAVIS: OZONE IS SO CUTE
SANJEEV: How to get the site from i can download full HORROR MOVIE PURNA MANDIR could

Movie News
Australia
Canada
France
Germany
Hong Kong
India
Israel
Japan
Malaysia
New Zealand
Pakistan
Poland
Singapore
South Korea
Taiwan
Thailand
Uganda
UK
USA
Vietnam

By Type:
DVD News
Movie Quotes
MP3 Podcasts
Obituaries
Production Info
Rumors
Trailer News
Trivia

External Article
External Interview

By Studio:
IFC Films
Milkyway Image
Shaw Brothers
Sony Pictures
Warner Bros.
More Studios >

Movies
2007
Bug
Grind House
Rogue

2006
Adam's Apples
Apocalypto
Casino Royale
Descent, The
Exiled
Funky Forest
Pan's Labyrinth
Scanner Darkly, A
Superman Returns
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance


Latest Reviews

WordPress database error: [Can't create/write to file '/tmp/#sql_c36_0.MYI' (Errcode: 30)]
SELECT DISTINCT * FROM wp_posts LEFT JOIN wp_post2cat ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_post2cat.post_id) WHERE wp_posts.post_date <= '2014-11-01 07:11:18' AND ( wp_posts.post_status = 'publish' OR wp_posts.post_status = 'sticky' ) AND wp_posts.post_password = '' AND ( wp_post2cat.category_id = '8' ) GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5


Movie Reviews
By Country:
Australia
Canada
Czech
Europe
Germany
Hong Kong
India
Indonesia
Iran
Italy
Japan
Russia
Spain
South Korea
Sweden
Thailand
Turkey
UK
USA

By Rating:
Great ****
Good ***
Average **
Poor *

By Author:
Charlie
David
Jeff
Pete

By Guest Writer:
Brian
John
Mike G.
Mike M.
Wade

Cable:
Cable Series

External Reviews

People
Argento, Dario
Bale, Christian
Chan-wook, Park
Cheh, Chang
Chow Sing Chi, Stephen
Craig, Daniel
Freeman, Morgan
Giamatti, Paul
Gilliam, Terry
Howard, Ron
Hark, Tsui
Jaa, Tony
Jackson, Peter
Jee-woon, Kim
July, Miranda
Kaige, Chen
Kar-wai, Wong
Kurosawa, Kiyoshi
Kuriyama, Chiaki
Lau, Andy
Miike, Takashi
Miyazaki, Hayao
Myung-se, Lee
Nolan, Christopher
Spielberg, Steven
Suzuki, Seijun
Tarantino, Quentin
To, Johnnie
Tse, Nicholas
Vaughn, Matthew
Yen, Donnie
Yeoh, Michelle
Yimou, Zhang
Ziyi, Zhang
More People >

Archive
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012

  • RSS Syndication

    Add to Google

    Subscribe in NewsGator Online

    Add Cinema Strikes Back - Covering the World of Film to Newsburst from CNET News.com

    Add to My AOL

    Add to netvibes

    Subscribe in Bloglines

    Add to The Free Dictionary

    Add to Bitty Browser

    Add to Plusmo

    Subscribe in podnova


    Credits and Copyright
    Proudly powered by WordPress. All content © 2004-2005 Cinema Strikes Back.
    Theme by Theron Parlin