In 1928, a Japanese soldier named Yamamori finds the world’s largest black pearl ring on the severed hand of General Zhang Zuolin in Manchuria, China. In 1984, the man lays on his deathbed and his final words to his wife Matsuko about the whereabouts of the black pearl are “Pussy Print”. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like, as apparently in this odd little world pussy prints are considered some sort of fine art. Unfortunately, a fire some years before destroyed all of Yamamori’s pussy prints, and the one remaining is only half-complete thanks to fire damage. How exactly is this supposed to help with finding the black pearl? The only thing Matsuko can think to do is hire Detective Kuroda and his assistant Hamako to take a look at the clues. It’s a good choice, as Kuroda is a man that will go to any lengths to not only find the location of the black pearl, but to find the pussy that made the damaged print.
Groper Train: Search for the Black Pearl is a complete blast, the most fun I’ve had with a Pink film since the equally entertaining S&M Hunter. There are a ton of gags here that work extremely well, so much so that you’re likely to forget you're watching “just a sex flick” whenever the copulation is put on the back-burner. There are a countless number of Groper Train films (or Molester Train, if you like), with at least one being produced every year in Japan up until 2009, which was the first time in nearly three decades that one of these films didn’t hit a theatre. Even having only seen this one, I’m going to make an educated guess that this is one of, if not the best entry in the series, as I’m sure all of director Yujiro Takita’s entries are, of which he contributed nearly 15. With Search for the Black Pearl, he also introduced continuity, something you don’t normally see in Pink series, by creating two characters, the touchy-feely Detective Kuroda and his sexy sidekick Hamako, who became recurrent figures in the series in years to come.
The humor utilized throughout Search for the Black Pearl is of the lowest common denominator, but done in such a playful Mel Brooks type of way that it works; what was offensive about Blazing Saddles when compared to standard westerns is how you can digest this when putting it up against other sex flicks. Some of the stuff in the film is totally audacious, from sneaking pussy prints from unsuspecting girls on a train, some unexpected flatulence and actual fecal matter, and hardcore aerobics not to lose weight but to tighten up the vaginal muscles so they can be utilized as a trap. And hey, have you ever wondered what the world would look like from the inside of a snatch? Mr. Takita has you covered!
I know this will sound like I’m tooting my own horn, but I honestly believe if I had seen this film upon release (and wasn’t four years old at the time), I’d have said that Yojiro Takita would go onto big things. There’s so much creativity, style, and just pure ingenuity going on throughout Search for the Black Pearl that it’s hard not to think this was a director poised to break out into the mainstream sooner than later. Lots of cool techniques that you just don’t see used in the Pink genre often, like stop-motion, actual special FX, and dolly zooms pop up all the time, which add up to a film that feels like it’s almost attempting to break the chains of the genre it’s being produced in. That can also be said when looking at the cast, which includes Yukijiro Hotaru, who while a recognizable Pink mainstay also regularly works in mainstream Japanese cinema, starring in everything from Zeiram and the 90’s Gamera trilogy to master director Kon Ichikawa’s final film The Inugami Clan. You’ll also see the sole Pink film appearance from actor/director Naoto Takenaka (turning in a great, quirky performance as “The Great Writer” Seicho Matsuki), who has worked on numerous films with both Hideo Gosha and Takaski Miike.
I know I always end these reviews with a “these films are so much more than just sex” statement, and I have another one this time, but it’s a little different. If you’ve already looked past the fact that these films have more to offer than what you’ve come to expect from softcore cinema, but find yourself turned off by the violence and extremely harsh elements that many employ, then Groper Train: Search for the Black Pearl is the film for you to see. Its 64 minutes of unbridled, harmless fun that’s Benny Hill-esque but far more low-brow and politically incorrect. So if your sense of humor is currently residing in the toilet bowl, you need to see this; where else are you going to see a flick where people are indentified not by fingerprints but by pussy prints? Nowhere, my dear sir, and that’s what makes this stuff so awesome.
PINK EIGA hits another one out of the park with their DVD release of Groper Train: Search for the Black Pearl. The film is presented in a letterboxed 1.85:1 print, and this is by far the best-looking classic 80’s release they’ve done so far, as it looks like this was actually transferred from a quality film print and not an inferior backup which they’ve had to do in the past. If a backup was used for this transfer, it’s incredible what they’ve done. There’s nary a blemish present, great color reproduction (although one or two darker scenes look a bit washed-out) and is just overall impressive. Likewise, the 2.0 Dolby Digital track sounds very good, with no hiss or damage discernable. Subs are burned in, but are of the usual PE quality, which means they’re flawless and error-free.
The main video extra on the disc is part one of an interview with “Mr. Pink” Yutaka Ikejima (the second part is included on PE’s release of Groper Train: Wedding Capriccio). If you don’t know Ikejima, his moniker of Mr. Pink comes from the fact that he’s directed over 100 films for the genre in just 25 years. In the piece, he talks about the popularity of the Groper Train series and why they appeal to a Japanese audience. It’s short but informative and Ikejima has an obvious love for the genre. Text bios for the cast and crew are also included, as well as a still image gallery that includes the film’s original theatrical poster, and trailers for this as well as current and future PINK EIGA releases.
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