By the mid-'70s the American biker movie was long dead, after being run dry by 5th rate imitators. So leave it to Japan's Toei Studios to come up this appropriately-whacked reworking of the genre (crossed with WEST SIDE STORY, no less), as director Ishii Teruo blends drugs, violence and offbeat musical numbers into a half-baked Asian goulash. It starts off on the right foot, with motorcyclists zooming down city streets as garish credits fill the screen, and for once they rented enough bikes to actually make 'em look like an honest to goodness gang (instead of six unshaven guys sporting dirty denim jackets). In this case, we're introduced to two wise-assed gangs in their corresponding colors, one known as the Black Cats and the other as the Red Chilis. But when Yuki, a pretty miss from the Cats becomes worried about a possible feud, she approaches famed race-car driver Masami (an ex-member of the Chilis) to keep the peace -- with their unexpected attraction taking a Shakespearean route. What really makes the film bizarre and unsettling is its utter disdain of consistency. One moment we have a Beach Party dance-o-rama, with mohawked bikers boogieing in the sand (like an overseas casting call for GREASE 3); and the next, we've got writhing nude combos and unexpectedly grim violence (for example, when the words "sewer rat" are carved into a biker's bare back). Plus, the final ten minutes ram home a chaotic, ultra-violent rumble featuring crushed limbs and everybody beating the crap outta each other with sticks. Thankfully, these isolated moments will shake you out of the stupor brought on by its sappy melodrama; and though the occasional rear-projection biker is a hoot, there's some startling stuntwork along the way. Even if it's never as violent, sexy or anti-social as you might wish, this Japanese bikerama earns a recommendation from the simple fact that I never knew what the fuck these demented filmmakers were going to toss at me next -- catching even a jaded viewer like me off guard.
© 1995 by Steven Puchalski.