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Bohachi: Clan of the Forgotten Eight
Year: ポルノ時代劇 忘八武士道

Bohachi: Clan of the Forgotten Eight

Japanese: Porno Jidaigeki Bohachi Bushido
Year: 1973
Director: Teruo Ishii
Story: Kazuo Koike, Goseki Kojima
Cast: Tetsuro Tanba, Goro Ibuki, Tatsuo Endo, Yuriko Hishimi, Aizawa Keiko, Reina Ichinose, Ikejima Ruriko, Shiro Kuno, Chie Kobayashi, Ryohei Uchida
The Skinny: A fan favorite among Toei "Pinky Violence" action cinema fans, Ishii Teruo's Bohachi Bushido is a wickedly perverse and dark tale that shamelessly flaunts its bloody, erotic and stunningly surreal imagery. While many may judge the film to be in poor taste due to its subject matter, it is a fascinating if somewhat repulsive guilty pleasure.
   
Review
by
JMaruyama:

Many may know of prolific manga author Koike Kazuo's works such as his brilliant Crying Freeman series or his wildly erotic adventure comics like Kizuoibito or Offered, but his most lasting creation has been the influential and groundbreaking manga Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf & Cub) series from the 70s. Together with talented artist Kojima Goseki, they brought new life to the traditional chambara or jidaigeki ("Samurai Costume Drama"), infusing their story with ultra violent swordplay, pornographic sex and near Shakespearian tragic melodrama.

Kozure Okami was an epic tale that was perfect for film and thus it was adapted to the screen by famed Katsu Productions, producers of the classic Zatoichi films. The "golden duo" of Koike and Kojima followed up with other Samurai manga stories such as Kubikiri Asa" and Hanzo No Mon but weren't able to capture the same impact as Kozure Okami, although Koike's other manga stories like Shirayuki Hime (a.k.a. Princess Snowblood) and Goyokiba (a.k.a. Hanzo The Razor) were also made into films. Toei's Bohachi Bushido was adapted from a Koike/Kojima manga short and in an inspired selection, Ishii Teruo, who directed such films as Edogawa Rampo Taizen: Kyofu Kikei Ningen (a.k.a. Horrors of the Malformed Man) and Tokugawa Onna Keibatsu-Shi (a.k.a. The Joy of Torture) directed the film. The results were pure exploitation magic.

Tiring of his aimless existence, wanted ronin Ashita Shiro (literal meaning "Die Tomorrow", and played by Tetsuro Tamba) decides to commit suicide by drowning himself after massacring yet another band of pursuing goemon (state authorities) sent to capture him. As Shiro sinks to the bottom of a river, he remarks "To die is hell, but to live is also hell", yet these words prove eerily prophetic as Shiro finds himself saved from his fate by the hellish criminal syndicate "The Bohachi", a group so sinister and vile, they refer to themselves as "beasts wearing human skin".

The Bohachi are so named because they have made an unholy oath to reject (forget) all human virtues: Ko, Piety towards God; Tei, Group/State allegiance; Chu, friendship/loyalty; Shin, trust; Rei, civilness/humanity; Gi, sense of justice/morality; Ren -conscience/regard; and Chi, self worth/shame. Its members are initiated through sadistic torture and are made to rape multiple women to show their worth to the syndicate. While the Bohachi men are true human scum (they even flaunt their criminal affiliation with coats that bear sexually perverse kanji), the Bohachi woman are equally cruel, cunning and heartless, having been made that way through constant beatings and relentless sexual assaults.

Shiro is made a guest by Bohachi monarch, Daimon Shirobei (Endo Tatsuo) a wealthy merchant with vast amounts of wealth and widespread influence. He is aided by his lead henchman, the emotionless Shirakubi Kesazou (Ibuki Goro) and his paramour, the seductively beautiful but cruel Omon (Hishimi Yuriko). The Bohachi have dominated the sex-trade in Tokugawa Era Edo's (now Tokyo) Yoshiwara district since government formation, and have amassed enormous amounts of influence and money through their government contracts, providing prostitutes and harlots to samurai, government workers and laborers.

But other criminal factions have begun to muscle in on their enterprises. Daimon asks Shiro to help them to kill off the samurai officials who go to the rival brothels and destroy the competition. Shiro at first refuses the offer but is then persuaded by Daimon through promises of protection from government authorities. Shiro soon acts as the Bohachi's assassin and enforcer, and successfully crushes the Bohachi's rivals and the assassins sent to kill him. However, Shiro later finds out that he was sold out by Daimon to the Tokugawa Chancellor in an arrangement to give the Bohachi complete control over Yoshiwara in exchange for Shiro's capture. Shiro vows to get revenge on the Bohachi for their treachery.

Ishii Teruo is one of the most visually artistic of the Toei directors of the 70s and his films, while controversial, were always feasts for the eyes. Bohachi Bushido is no exception. From its blood splattering opening title sequence (the blood and gore actually form the movie's title) to the various images of debauchery, opium use, over-the-top bloodshed, violence, and wanton nudity, Ishii's film is not for the overly prude or easily offended. While the film promotes itself as a Porno Jidaigeki ("Pornographic Samurai Film"), the film is not that graphic or hardcore. There are ample shots of nudity, but the sex scenes are brief and not gratuitous.

Those familiar with Tamba Tetsuro's previous work on TV and film may find his character here in stark contrast to the jovial or stoic parts he's played in the past. I never thought of Tamba as an action star but he certainly pulls it off here, giving Ashita Shiro some decent nobility and honorable qualities as well as showing off his skills with the sword. His outsider character seems in the same vein as Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name" character from films like Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.

Great character actor Endo Tatsuo (Daimajin, Zatoichi Royaburi) is no stranger to portraying vile and despicable characters, and again delivers a truly menacing performance as the Bohachi leader Daimon. Ibuki Goro (Jingi Naki Tatakai) is also wonderfully sinister as lead henchman Shirakubi Kesazou. He looks menacing and his cold and calculating performance is definitely chilling.

Many may be pleasantly surprised (as I was) by Hishimi Yuriko's performance as lead Bohachi woman Omon. Having only known her from her role as cute Yuri Anne in the cult Tokusatsu show Ultra Seven and as Yuriko in the sexy all-female detective show Playgirl, it was refreshing to see her in a much more darker and aggressive role. She definitely gets to show off her ample assets during her many scenes, including one audacious sequence where she assaults a blonde foreign nun (Donna Kay).

Bohachi Bushido is not for the overly serious and its bawdy and carnal subject matter may offend some, but it is outrageous entertainment that has to be seen to be believed. (JMaruyama 2008)

   
 
   
   
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