Japanese helmer cum fest fave Ryuichi Hiroki ("Vibrator") veers close to his pornographic roots with eye-popping but uninformative docu "Bakushi," which lays bare the talents of Japanese bondage masters.

Japanese helmer cum fest fave Ryuichi Hiroki (“Vibrator”) veers close to his pornographic roots with eye-popping but uninformative docu “Bakushi,” which lays bare the talents of Japanese bondage masters. While kinbaku (tying up women) is not exclusively a Nipponese fetish, docu shows that in a land where everything is aestheticized, bondage — surprise, surprise — is no exception. Helmer’s rep and tantalizing subject will rope in fests looking to spice up their sidebars. Other options are minimized due to occasional graphic nudity, but potential exists for brown-paper-bag ancillary sales.

Three Japanese rope masters, known as bakushi, and three of their favorite models are interviewed by Hiroki (making a rare credited excursion into documentary). Interviewees’ responses are unilluminating, and things aren’t helped by having two sets of subtitles onscreen — one for dialogue and one for captions. Considerable uninterrupted screen time is dedicated to the methodical bakushi applying complex knots on the sometimes nude, sometimes not, but always whimpering women, before progressing to hoists and mild whipping. Pic would have benefited from more contextualization of rope-tying’s appeal in already highly fetishistic Japan. DV lensing is adequate and other credits similar.

Bakushi

Japan

Production

An Arcimboldo production. (International sales: Gold View, Tokyo.) Produced by Naoya Narita. Directed by Ryuichi Hiroki.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Kazuhiro Suzuki, Tatsumi Watanabe; editor, Ryuichi Hiroki, Jun Tsugita; music, Koji Endo. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (Maestros: Kings & Aces), Feb. 1, 2007. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Chimuo Nureki, Haruki Yukimura, Go Arisue, Hiromi Saotome, Sumire, Taeko Uzuki.
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