The Great Chase Review
Director: Norifumi Suzuki
Starring: Etsuko Shihomi, Bin Amatsu, Tanaka Hisako, Fumiake Mach, Ishibashi Masashi
A race car driver who also happens to be a master martial artist, master of disguise, and spy (Etsuko Shihomi) lends her skills to overthrow a vicious yakuza group with ties to international criminals. Using her various skills, she.metes out vengeance when the yakuza get personal and kidnap someone close to her and her family.
An intensely wacky and all together crazy film, The Great Chase is a continuous series of absurd sequences. From foot chases and karate-ka versus pro wrestler duels to furry rape and odd S&M style torture, you aren’t going to find many films, even in Japan, with such an overabundance of ideas and the cajones to realize it on celluloid. Director Noribumi Suzuki, veteran of numerous pinku films, helms this example of madness incarnate, carrying with it that spirit of cinema but with a decidedly larger budget and some top-level action talent.
Shihomi channels quite a bit of her Sister Street Fighter performance here but with a liberal helping of Cutey Honey for good measure. Her disguises generally amount to little more than cosplay costuming though an attempt to pass herself off as an octogenarian fares the best of the bunch. It is funny that with how many times she undergoes a costume change, how she rarely doesn’t get found out and have to fight her ways out of a situation.
Disguised as a nun? Yep, found out and fight a bunch of karate nuns. Infiltrated a club filled with yakuza? Get found out and have to battle a female pro wrestler who is a hired hand. At least the villains aren’t completely inept when they actually make use of her identity and lay a trap for her using bait. This sequence does carry with it more than a little uncomfortable elements; primarily the aforementioned “furry rape” which comes out of nowhere and proves once again that the Japanese may be at wildly advanced when it comes to fetishes.
While the film seems to revel in its craziness, the plot does seem to flow at a great pace; nary a span of 7 minutes seems to go by without someone getting punched or kicked in the face. The fights themselves lack real choreography and devolve into singular punches and throws but remain fun and exaggerated.
Production is good with numerous locations and populated sets. A number of scenes are obviously on stages but add to the manga sensibility as opposed to detracting. The music is actually quite good; it’s 70s era score upbeat and energetic in that way only 70s Japanese action scores can be.
The Great Chase just may be one of the craziest action films Japan has ever produced. With its tone somewhere between espionage/comedy manga and sleazy smuggling yakuza film, the film certainly has its hands in a number of pots. While it makes little sense in terms of storytelling, there is an infectious quality to such exciting and fearless filmmaking. Film elitists stay away, this is one for the sugared up teenage boy in all of us.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Hausu, Sister Street Fighter, and/or Dragon Princess