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.
Ironfinger 2: Golden Eye
aka １００発１００中 黄金の眼 aka Hyappatsu hyakuchu: Ogon on me aka 100 Shot, 100 Killed: Golden Eye aka Booted Babe, Busted Boss
Written by Jun Fukuda, Ei Ogawa, and Michio Tsuzuki
Directed by Jun Fukuda
Ironfinger 2: Golden Eye returns to the world of Ironfinger. We have international criminals, jet setting fun, and a hero who is invincible kicking butt. As usual, the title changed for overseas export. 100 Shot, 100 Killed: Golden Eye became Ironfinger 2: Golden Eye, though in some locales it was turned into Booted Babe, Busted Boss! Those poor saps… The “Golden Eye” of the title betrays more of the Bond influence, for the few who couldn’t figure it out from the Ironfinger part, or for the Japanese audience. This is the last outing of Andrew Hoshino, so cry your tears now and then read all about it.
The tone is slightly altered in that Andrew Hoshino’s organization is hinted to be more criminal in nature, though Andrew himself is given a few more noble things to do. He’s pulled in under the story of avenging the murder of a Japanese citizen upon request of his young daughter. It turns into a quest to find the missing rare Samanta Gold coin, though that is just part of a bigger economic criminal conspiracy.
Golden Eye features world locations,Besides Japan, the opening of the film is in Beirut! This may seem amazing to modern audiences that anyone would spend time in Beirut, but things weren’t always the way they are now. Another thing Ironfinger 2 has is sheiks in blackface (also seen in Yellow Line). The characters are played by Japanese actors, but are painted up dark brown and treated as if they’re foreign. Both a good police officer and several of the villains feature this treatment. Also both of the Ironfinger films feature big boss villains who are Caucasian, though both are European in origin. I would guess this is to show both that the Japanese hero can defeat anyone in the world, including what would be considered traditional Bond villains, and that Japanese people can’t be the big villain because they aren’t evil, and it’s people outside their culture affecting their life.
A highlight of these Ironfinger films is the killer 1960s clothing. Every outfit Bibari Maeda wears is spectacular. The cool clothes help make the fun lifestyle easier to accept, as they’re dressed just like cool people, so they would naturally do cool things.
Andrew Hoshino has a pair of women to deal with, though his darker affiliation is reveal again as bad girl Ruby is who he is paired with the most, Mistuko Saito functions as a catalyst to get the plot to the various locations, but she’s far too busy being a star to drop everything to run around with a playboy spy. Freelance bad girl Ruby easily slips into this role, her various connections with Andrew happening frequently
The far more complicated plot deals with economic problems of late 1960s Japan, hidden treasure, and even a hint of environmentalism thrown in. The whole thing hinges on a missing rare gold coin, but the real crime is wholesale precious metals smuggling used to hold hostage parts of Japan’s economy. It seems like it should be a modern film, the economic battle having played out in a modified form in real life. Golden Eye thankfully just uses that as backdrop and keeps the focus on the missing rare coin, giving audiences who don’t understand complex economic issues something to follow, while those who are aware have an insight into why the villains have so many high powered goons.
aka １００発１００中 aka Hyappatsu hyakuchu aka 100 Shot, 100 Killed
Written by Michio Tsuzuki and Kihachi Okamoto
Directed by Jun Fukuda
The world of 1960s spy films is a crazy place, filled with all sorts of local infusions of the James Bond formula. Jun Fukuda drops a pair of flicks that take inspiration from the jet-setting spy and the local Japanese yakuza and crime films. Like all good 60s spy flicks, things aren’t taken 100% serious, and Ironfinger is practically an action comedy. The era wardrobe and locations give flavor that can’t be reproduced any more, and our hero Andrew Hoshino runs around from country to country on his own agenda, that’s not as innocent as it first appears.
Ironfinger is a movie of the world. It’s original title translates to 100 Shot, 100 Killed, but it’s given a James Bond-esque retitle for overseas release. Andrew Hoshino himself is a man of the world, French-born Japanese who speaks both languages, as well as English, with ease. His “vacation” sees him embroiled in an international weapons smuggling conspiracy that reaches all over the Pacific Rim, running from Japan to Hong Kong to the Philippines. Ironfinger speaks five languages, has characters who get angry because the wrong language is being spoken, yet the story is universal enough to be entertaining to everyone.
Andrew Hoshino plays the innocent tourist caught up in crime and continually referencing his Mama. but it becomes abundantly clear that he’s more than he appears, but never so clear you understand just what he is. Secret agent, criminal, Interpol? Your guess is as good as anyone else’s. Even his name isn’t his own, he acquires it from the passport of a murdered friend. Hoshino has a string of running gags, beginning with where he’s constantly losing and getting back his hat (originally his murdered friend’s hat), the hat containing a concealed weapon. Hoshino is also constantly captured, spending the majority of the running time in custody of one gang or another. Yet he always manages to escape through the power of his mouth or his skills, falling upward and into the arms of beautiful women.
Ironfinger and its sequel Golden Eye were best known for the strong Godzilla alumni connection. Both star Akira Takarada and costar Akihiko Hirata had roles in the original film and many subsequent sequels, but Bond girl Mie Hama also pops up in a few Toho kaiju flicks. Director Jun Fukuda has long been connected to the franchise, even helming Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Son of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Gigan, Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, ESPY, The War in Space, and episodes of the Zone Fighter tv series. These connections helped bump Ironfinger up the list for a Criterion release, and both Ironfinger and Golden Eye look fantastic and have nice subtitles. As these reviews are based on the streaming versions, I did not view any extras.