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Gonin 2

Masamichi Ken Ogata

Masamichi Ken Ogata

Sayuri Shinobu Otake

Ran Kimiko Yo

Chihiro Mai Kitajima

Saki Yui Natsukawa

Shiho Yumi Nishiyama

Fest fans of yakuza bloodbath “Gonin” won’t be left hungry after this equally over-the-top follow-up by cultish director Takashi Ishii. The hemoglobin flows and body count grows to entertaining midnight effect in “Gonin 2,” a femme counterpart in which a bunch of babes takes on mobsters amid the neon-drenched Nipponese nightscape. Specialty screenings and buff video sales loom.

Things start off fairly slow with Masamichi (Ken Ogata), the late-with-payments boss of an ironworks, threatened, and his wife raped, by some goons. While he forges a samurai sword to take revenge, we’re introduced to women whose lives gradually cross and coalesce as the complex plot progresses. Ran (Kimiko Yo) is the manager of a gym who’s canned by the yakuza owner; Sayuri , a hooker (Shinobu Otake), realizes she’s getting too old to do schoolgirl tricks. There’s also man-hating Saki (Yui Natsukawa) who’s tormented by rape nightmares, and cuckolded wife Shiho (Yumi Nishiyama).

All the women converge by chance on a Shinjuku jewelry store, which Ran has decided to rob. But before she can go into action, the joint is held up by the gang that raped the wife of Masamichi, who also turns up with sword in hand and wife’s body in his car. Following a shootout that makes the finale of “Reservoir Dogs” seem a model of clarity, the four women end up with Masamichi, and are also joined by Chihiro (Mai Kitajima), a store employee who was in the pay of the gang.

Cartoonish action then switches for a while to nearby Yokohama, where multiple betrayals begin, finally resolved back in Tokyo in a last half hour that will have even jaded genre fans reaching for the pause button. A postscript (“Six months later”) makes “Gonin 3” look a given.

Ishii delivers the goods on an action level but also stirs in considerable amounts of black humor to leaven the stew. Veteran Ogata plays the whole thing with a straight face, leaving the more expressive acting to the women (led by the memorable, raven-haired Yo) and hoards of goofy gangsters.

Tech credits are slick, and Goro Yasukawa’s driving, percussive score keeps the temperature at boiling point. Print caught also contained an alternative English title, “Five Women.”

Gonin 2

(japanese)

Production: A Shochiku Co. release (in Japan) of a Satellite Cinema production, in association with MMI. (International sales: Shochiku, Tokyo.) Produced by Kazuyoshi Okuyama, Nobuaki Murooka. Directed, written by Takashi Ishii.

Crew: Camera (color), Yasushi Sashikibara; editor, Yoshiyuki Okuhara; music, Goro Yasukawa; art direction, Teru Yamazaki. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival, Aug. 11, 1996. Running time: 107 MIN.

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