Black Tight Killers
aka 俺にさわると危ないぜ aka Ore ni Sawaru to Abunaize aka If You Touch Me Danger
Screenplay by Ryuzo Nakanishi and Michio Tsuzuki
Based on the novel by Michio Tsuzuki
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe
Black Tight Killers is an essential film. In a just universe, it would be a well-known classic instead of a fairly known cult movie. It assaults the senses with a full force blast of 1960s gogo excess from the opening credits, and just puts the pedal to the metal. The awesomeness is of such force that even viewers who shy away from the 1950s and 60s Japanese action cinema will be pulled along. The film is a visual feast, with nearly every scene so full of glorified excess of ocular excitement that your eyes will be in danger of going all ADHD on you.
Black Tight Killers starts with Akira Kobayashi as dashing war photographer Daisuke Honda doing daring deeds during a pitched battle that wouldn’t look out of place in any cheap 1960s Italian war movie that was also shot on a small set. But soon he’s flying back to Japan and we’re blasted by dancing gogo girls in black tights stomping through the opening credits. The film features a gang of fighting femmes (the titular Black Tight Killers) who use their ninja skills on a quest to recover stolen treasure before the villains can. They cross paths with Daisuke Honda, whose recent girlfriend Yuriko Sawanouchi (Chieko Matsubara) is kidnapped due to her family connections to the looted treasure. While the ninja ladies are at first adversarial with Honda and were attempting to kill Yuriko, eventually they become a team to go after the real villains. Honda’s lady killer charms combined with the actual ladies who are killers using ninja seduction skills (the Octopus Pot move traps you know which part of Honda’s body inside you know where of the ninja lass!) means we have plenty of sex to go with violence and music.
Of particular note is a technicolor jazz dream sequence of Daisuke Honda’s, as we follow dream Yuriko as she’s chased through long hallways by stalking menaces while a different-hued black tight killer lady prances in every direction. She frantically bursts through the paper walls of different colored rooms, the ladies chasing her all the while. It’s a literal technicolor fever dream! In the awake world, whenever characters are driving around in vehicles, the projected background is rendered in primary colors, recalling the dream sequence but also forcing focus on the characters in the car just through blasting out any distractions.
The Black Tight Killers have a hideout in a gogo club, complete with a glass floor on the stage where the miniskirted performers dance and sing. They cleverly hid in plain sight, performing under the act name The Ninjas. Among their weapons are measuring tape swords, records, and chewing gum – “the ninja chewing gum bullet.” The ladies are Akiko (Akemi Kita), Yoshie (Kozue Kamo), Fuyuko (Mieko Nishio), and Natsuko (Satoko Hamagawa). We only really get characterization time for Akiko
A man claiming to be Yuriko’s uncle, Gunji Okada, fills Daisuke Honda in on the treasure information and Yuriko’s late father’s involvement. He has other friends and mentors he calls on in his quest, some of which become more victims and others become obvious turncoats. Never fear, there are more than white gangster goons for Hondo to beat up and prove the might of Japan, and a few of them even know how to act!
The influence of James Bond features is something you can’t escape in 1960s films, and Black Tight Killers borrows its fair share. Aside from the hero basically being James Bond with a camera, at one point Yuriko is stripped and coated in white paint, while Hondo is threatened with his own coating on gold leaf. Despite the dashing heroics, Daisuke Honda is one of those idiots who keeps grabbing the murder weapon when he stumbles across dead bodies, making him easy to frame by the ninja ladies. Honda shakes off being accused of murder as easily as the attempts on his life. At one point part of his tie is cut off, and soon after he just ties his tie in a different way, so now it works as a bow tie!
Black Tight Killers draws to a satisfying conclusion complete with a great twist on the ending, and Yuriko not being too happy about Honda’s jumping into bed with the ninja ladies (which provides a fantastic moment that literally hundreds of lothario movie leads deserve!)
This leads to the worst part of Black Tight Killers, which is that it is now over. How dare this movie end! Not only that, but it is a one off, and while other features may have many of the elements of Black Tight Killers, nothing can replicate the exact experience, and those films go in their own directions. You’ll find yourself wanting to revisit the optical wonderland candytrain sugar rush that is Black Tight Killers soon, and as I’m out of ridiculous phrases to explain the energetic visuals and fun, you best be going to see it now. That’s an order!
Rated 9/10 (Logo, 7up, confused cop, goldfingers, horn head, ninja weapons, masked goon, throw a wrench in the plan, knife pulling)
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