Friday, June 17, 2011

Bohachi Bushido: Code of the Forgotten Eight [1973]

Despite the fact that notorious assassin Shino rejects the ways of the Bohachi clan – instead of being handed over to the authorities – Shino works as the lead assassin to help the Bohachi clan seize power in the region by eliminating their competition.

I’ve defined pinky violence – as women in the lead aggressor role who assume power over men/authority, which are usually corrupted, by using sex and violence. From the “expert” interview on the DVD – pinky violence is defined as being women’s sexuality enticing men to violence. (The expert was sitting in his basement with fast food wrappers around him – so his credentials have taken a hit by his presentation) So, by either definition this film WAS NOT pinky violence (though it’s marketed as one) – it is a period drama/samurai film – with tons and TONS of nudity.

No complaints about the nudity. None.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about the sets – it looked very studio and fake – but as the film progressed I began to really like how they were being used to add contrast. As the film unfolded – and a psychedelic element was introduced the sets made more sense – and it worked so much better and became something I really liked instead of cringed at. I think the directing was solid – and though the film dragged a bit in parts – the filmmakers knew what they were doing in making a very good film.

I liked Shino – though his character didn’t make as much sense to me. The beginning of the film – he flat out rejected the ways of the Bohachi clan – and I assumed that this is where the main conflict would come from. He would play the clan and the authorities against each other – and it would be Yojimbo / A Fistful of Dollars kind of story. Instead he seemed to go along with the flow of the clan way too much and became less of a strong figure and more of a lapdog. I kept wondering when he’d show his hand – and honestly – I’m not sure if he did.

The main contradiction of Shino – was he tries to kill himself pontificating “If death is hell – how does it compare to the hell that is life?” He is rescued – but is obviously fearless of his own demise. So, why does he care if he’s turned over to the authorities? Isn’t it honorable to die in battle against the many Bohachi or the army of authorities? The film tries to play that he is fearless and that’s what makes him unstoppable – so why bend your morals, Shino? Fucking fight everyone!
The Code of the Forgotten Eight sounds really fucking cool – and you think that Shino will be the last of his clan of eight samurai and he was going to uphold his code all over the Bohachi clan’s asses! You learn pretty early though – that the Bohachi are the ones who have decided to “forget” the eight “virtues” – which essentially boils down that they have allowed themselves to become chauvinist pigs. They freely torture and rape women into submission – and when you think that the women will rise up against them – (especially five women in particular) – they just play submissive to the clan and let them use them to hold power by ruling through their brothels.

Wasn’t that in SCARFACE; once you have the women – then you get the power?

Unfortunately, with Shino becoming the Bohachi’s lapdog – and the mysterious ninja clan not being much of a major factor – and the women happy to be dominated – and a run time of 81 minutes – the film doesn’t hold up to what should’ve been. Meaning – without telling you the ending - there was no real conclusion – there were a few great fight sequences – and a pretty cool “ending” – but there was no sense of justice done or tragically left undone.

I wish this was the first or second film of a series and I can turn to the sequel – and continue the story – as this felt like a solid middle part of a pretty epic story. I recommend this film only hesitantly – for the style, direction, fight sequences and ridiculous amount of nudity – but not for the story.

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