Reiko Sasori, leader of the Starlight Squids, is currently holed-up in prison after a failed hit on rival gang leader Boss Muraco. While in jail, she sparks up a relationship with another inmate named Kali, and they become lovers. Reiko is let out of jail early due to good behavior, and Kali promises to come find her once she’s freed.
Back on the streets, Reiko reunites with the members of her gang, and finds out that the girl she left in charge, Emanuelle, has turned the gang into nothing more than a sex operation. Reiko confronts her, and a battle ensues, with Reiko coming out on top and reclaiming the top-spot in the gang.
Now a cohesive unit once again, the Starlight Squids begin to discuss a plan of action to rise to the top of the turf war. Reiko however has a revelation concerning the botched hit on Boss Muraco. The fact that his gang was encroaching on their grounds wasn’t the only reason for hostility; Reiko has a personal vendetta against him, as her father once worked for him, and when he wanted out, Boss Muraco killed him, and sold Reiko’s mother into prostitution. Reiko rallies the troops once again in a war against Boss Muraco’s gang. Meanwhile, Kali, the girl Reiko fell in love with in prison, has been released. There’s one thing though that she conveniently forgot to tell Reiko: she’s Boss Muraco’s daughter.
While the passion Jason Rudy has for the Pinky Violence genre is evident, Sukeban: Octopus Pot unfortunately falls into many of the trappings that indie films are susceptible to. First of all, there’s just too much fat on the film, and it’s in dire need of better editing. Most films of this genre move at a breakneck speed, and clock in at less than 90 minutes. Octopus Pot is nearly 97 minutes, and a good 20-25 minutes could have easily been cut to streamline the film. Incredible amounts of time are wasted showing nothing more than people driving or walking from point A to point B, having conversations that do absolutely nothing to drive the plot forward, and lingering on shots for far too long. Some of these scenes of characters just walking or driving last for a minute or longer; there’s even a scene that lasts a good minute that consists of nothing but a guy eating candy. Seriously, what? The film really languishes around way too long for its own good, and you’ll be left wondering when the hell the film is going to actually delve into the main story that was promised from the beginning.
That’s another of the films problems; utterly pointless and mundane plot threads. Sure, many Pinky Violence films have multiple story threads, but those are films from highly experienced and professional directors/writers, and the plots generally converge and tie-up in the end. Here, they feel like shameless padding for the runtime. One of Boss Muraco’s gang members is a pedophile pornographer, and his usefulness to the overall story is null. Yeah, the character eventually gets shot in the nuts, but did we need to be subjected to 10 minutes of the guy talking with the worst lisp in history and laying down lame gay jokes to make it effective? Not really. Things could have come together a lot better if the focus was laid solely on the Starlight Squids turf war with Boss Muraco’s gang, and Reiko’s girlfriend/Boss Muraco’s daughter being released from prison, as at least these elements were somewhat interesting.
Also, for a film that’s supposed to be an homage to the films of Pinky Violence, for the first hour, it’s sorely lacking in many of the aspects of what made those films what they were. You won’t find any abstract lighting, no off-kilter camera angles, little violence (the one fight we get is pretty bad and horribly edited, although Miss Hazzard’s legs are rather awesome), and no nudity. You’ll never really get the feeling you get from watching other Pinky Violence films, and many of the locations chosen to shoot in do the film a disservice. I realize this is a low-budget affair, and it couldn’t be shot in places that look Japanese, but it’s still a glaring anomaly, especially when you have girls giving each other the Sukeban-style greeting and using Japanese terminology inside a one-bedroom US apartment.
And then there’s the acting, which will win no awards whatsoever. It’s pretty damn awful. I’m in no way comparing this to a film with actors that make their living by acting; that wouldn’t be fair. I’m comparing it to other indie features I’ve seen in my time. When I was heavily into horror, I wasn’t above checking out films from studios like SubRosa and Wicked Pixel. While they didn’t all feature good acting, many of them, especially from Wicked Pixel, did feature competent, and dare I say above-average, performances. The acting in Octopus Pot is altogether flat and boring, and the delivery from everyone is nothing short of terrible and void of any conviction. It doesn’t help that the dialogue isn’t very good, and many of the soliloquies that the script calls for are drawn-out and boring. Nevertheless, it does appear that everyone involved was having a good time with things.
If you somehow manage to make it through the first hour however, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not trying to be mean, but I can guarantee that if I hadn’t promised to review the film, I wouldn’t have even made it to the third act, and I don’t know if others will either. But if you do, things certainly pick up. You’ll begin to get creative lighting (although the reds and oranges are searingly over-saturated), strange camera angles, heavy doses of action and violence, nudity, and sex. Where the hell was this during that arduous first hour of the film? I’m all for building to a winning climax, but an hour of near mind-numbing boredom is too much to ask, especially in a film that’s supposed to pay tribute to Pinky Violence and Sukeban films, a genre that is all about the excess from the word go.
The final fight scene of the film is a nice little nod to Criminal Woman: Killing Melody, although nowhere near as well-executed. The fight is passable though, and ends the film on a high note. I have to wonder if this film was shot sequentially; I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. It almost seems as if Jason Rudy gained confidence and skill throughout the films runtime, and by the final act, he had a firm grasp on what he wanted to do. This definitely hammers home that if the first hour of the film had been heavily edited, removing a lot of the needless elements, the film as a whole would have been a more easily digestible experience.
Sukeban: Octopus Pot is in no way a good film, but I hope it proves to be a learning experience for all involved, especially Jason Rudy. I believe his intention is to create a brand-new series of Sukeban films, and all of the lessons learned on this film can be applied to future installments to make them into far better films. If the ending is any indication as to what Rudy’s potential may be, the future could be promising.
For more information on Sukeban: Octopus Pot, including how to order the DVD as well as info on other Jason Rudy productions, head on over to Desperate Visions Productions.
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