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Synapse Films presents
Okatsu the Fugitive (1969)

"I am the Demon of Revenge."
- Okatsu (Junko Miyazono)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: January 10, 2008

Stars: Junko Miyazono, Tatsuo Umemiya, Reiko Oshida, Yoichi Numata, Toru Abe, Hiroshi Nawa
Director: Nobuo Nakagawa

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for violence, rape, blood, torture, adult themes
Run Time: 01h:23m:39s
Release Date: November 13, 2007
UPC: 654930306796
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Wrapping up the early pinky violence Legends of the Poisonous Seductress trilogy is 1969's Okatsu the Fugitive, in many ways a simple re-make of the previous film, following as it does the same basic plotline. Helmed, as in the previous installment, by Nobuo Nakagawa, this film takes a slightly harder tack than the previous film, but the usual dollops of swords and sadism should satisfy most fans. Like the other discs in the series, Synapse has done an excellent job in bringing them to English-speaking viewers.

Okatsu (Junko Miyazono) is a demure young woman who rightly honors her parents and is happy to be getting married to Shizaburo (Yataro Kitagami), a local samurai. Her father Makabe is a government official, and he is prepared to put the hammer down on Judayu (Toru Abe), an ambitious, corrupt young official who is selling contraband tobacco. Judayu and his partners aren't about to let their gravy train come to a stop though, and proceed to capture Makabe and his family. Cue torture scene, which ends with Okatsu's parents dead and Okatsu raped by Judayu. Okatsu, it so happens, is a formidable talent with a sword, and she swears vengeance on Judayu and company. The pursuit goes both ways, as Judayu's men are out to kill her as well, since she holds the only evidence against Judayu. I found this film the most satisfying of the trilogy, but it's not without its weaknesses. It's pretty much a given that Okatsu is going to chop down Judayu at the end, and the introduction of Tatsuya Watari's rogue swordsman late in the film needlessly complicates what is essentially a very simple story. Something was needed to pad the film out though, as it clocks in at only 83 minutes. Most disappointing is the rote copying of the basic plot points from the second film, down to even the same family name for Okatsu. If you're going to use this character, why not simply make a direct sequel to the previous film? Or the first film, for that matter? The second film leaves open a future confrontation between Okatsu and another character, so why not make use of that pre-made storyline? Obviously, the script as shot required far less work, but the always capable Nakagawa does his best to liven things up.

Miyazono, as in the previous films, is pretty but lacking in much depth. Not that this role allowed her to do much with it, but she rarely lives up to the lurid title. She doesn't get too mad, she just does the job that family honor compels her to do. As such, it's hard to stay that interested in her fate, even if this film makes the chase more immediate and interesting. The actors are all fine, as much as the shallow writing allows them to be. Reiko Oshida gets the pointless cameo award for this film, as her character is shoehorned in for what amounts to little more than the opportunity to flash her legs. This brings up another point, namely that anyone expecting the sexual element present in most films of the genre's heyday will be sorely disappointed, unless rape scenes get you going, and by this film, everyone involved just seems bored with the idea, as this film's version is the tamest and most drably shot of the three. There is plenty of sadistic violence, however, with torture, arterial spray, and eyes getting gouged out all on display. Like the other films in the trilogy, this isn't a classic, but it provides some gut level entertainment before sliding out of mind. Toei apparently gave up on the series after making the same film three times, and with that kind of behavior, it's probably just as well.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Like the other films in the series, this features an excellent transfer, clean and colorful. The white, optional English subtitles are very good.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: No complaints about the presentation of the original mono soundtrack, of which Koichi Kawabe's music is a highlight.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Female Demon Ohyaku, Quick-Draw Okatsu
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. insert essay
Extras Review: Anamorphic, subtitled trailers and an insert essay (slightly modified in each disc to include details on the film at hand) are included.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

The third film in the trilogy, this is essentially also the same film as the previous two. Heroine sees her parents killed, gets raped, swears revenge, kills lots of people. This one is just as watchable (if forgettable) as the last one, and the talents of Nobuo Nakagawa at least make it more watchable than it might have been otherwise. Still, not an essential purchase unless you collect the genre or Nakagawa. Synapse provides their usual first class presentation.


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