Sex Hunter: Wet Target

Director - Yukihiro Sawada

Cast - Miyoka Aoyama, George Harrison, Hiroko Isayama

Country of Origin - Japan

Discs - 1

Distributor - Synapse

Reviewer - Bobby Morgan

Date - 02/05/13

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The Film: 3/5

 

Half-black/half-Japanese criminal Okamoto is informed that his sister Natsuko was raped and murdered by a trio of American servicemen stationed in Japan while out on a drunken rampage. Two years after making a botched escape attempt he is released from prison and sets out to find the men responsible for Natsuko's death. Okamoto gets a job tending bar in a club where she used to work and becomes involved in the live sex shows the club's owner stages for the depraved pleasure of the high dollar V.I.P.'s. Unable to get any information from Etsuko, a friend of his sister's who was raped at the same time as Natsuko, Okamoto is aided in his quest for revenge by Taki, a slimeball pimp and wannabe gangster who may possibly have an ulterior motive for helping the young man out. Okamoto is determined to avenge Natsuko's death no matter what the cost, but when his investigation starts to take an unpleasant turn he will come face-to-face with the most fearsome killers in Japan's underworld as well as the darker impulses that fuel his own desperate soul.

 

Since late last year I have watched several titles from the Nikkatsu studio's collection of Japanese sexploitation - and I have several more still unwatched in a stack next to my bed - and found them to be decent watches but mostly forgettable. Sex Hunter: Wet Target (Sekkusu hanta: Nureta hyoteki) is one of the best entries in the series by virtue of the fact that takes its lurid, unpleasant subject matter and embraces it without question or compromise in a manner properly befitting of true exploitation cinema. This is a brutal, violent, and at times downright morally repugnant film that can be extremely uncomfortable to watch even if you have seen many movies of its ilk in the past. But Sex Hunter, though quite flawed, at least has the courage of its convictions; it gives the audience exactly what it promised then, and at times some things they weren't expecting. The characters, including our so-called hero, are all either irredeemable scum or soul-damaged living corpses who stopped giving a shit about anything and everything long before the story even began. Sex is something to be enjoyed on occasion but mostly it is used as a weapon to defile and humiliate women: the opening credits are barely over before Okamoto is shoving his unseen member into the mouth of Taki's bimbo girlfriend and forcing a blowjob (she even spits out ejaculate), and the rape flashback is played out twice in excruciating detail during the course of the movie - the second time from a different character's perspective. Only one of the sex scenes ever achieves a modicum of eroticism: the live carnal performance with Okamoto and Etsuko near the halfway mark, shot under a cloak of shadows and low light but emitting more pure passion and sensuality than any other scene of the same kind in the Nikkatsu library.

 

Rape and racism are commonplace in the world of Sex Hunter: Okamoto is of mixed heritages and is roundly dismissed and insulted by nearly everyone around him, while one character proclaims to the vengeance-minded ex-con that gang rape is practically a way of life in the region. During a flashback one of the rapist soldiers forces a black American who made the mistake of riding his bicycle too close for comfort to lick fresh urine off of Natsuko. That man is never seen or heard from for the rest of the movie. Though our sympathies are initially with Okamoto as he sets out to destroy the men who brutalized his sister and got away with it clean thanks to international treaties, he slowly reveals himself to be as much of a depraved monster as the very individuals he is hunting down, culminating in a scene where he confronts a woman connected to one of the rapists and handles a revelation regarding the man he came there to kill in a way we do not exactly expect of our heroes. In fact we are led to believe that the movie will provide plenty of satisfying moments where revenge is exacted in grand fashion, but only towards the end when Okamoto racks up a body count to rival Django Unchained during a bloody shootout do we get that violent catharsis. Until then the only scene that can hold a candle to that fiery final battle is a knock down, drag out brawl between Okamoto and Taki that has them crashing through walls and busting down doors as they beat the punk and plaster out of one another. A running joke throughout the movie is that Okamoto isn't the stone cold badass he probably wishes he was; truth be told he's a bit of a coward and his opportunities for gratifying vengeance are short-changed by the forces of fate and his entire quest becomes a sad but strangely amusing joke. Sexual degradation is the order of things in Sex Hunter, so if you're interested in seeing women get raped, urinated on, forced into giving oral sex, and choked to death with the barrel of a gun then you just may have hit the jackpot. Stay the hell away from me. It is refreshing to see American characters in a Nikkatsu movie and for them to be portrayed as mindless brutes with nothing resembling personalities is something that is bound to rattle potential viewers who aren't aware of America's past history of dehumanizing the Japanese in World War II propaganda films. But they are no different than anyone else in Sex Hunter. This is a dark and horrifying world where innocence and integrity are up for sale to the highest bidder, and everyone wants to cash in.

 

Audio/Video: 3/5

 

Impulse has done another solid job on the transfer for their Nikkatsu releases. The 16 x 9 enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen picture is pretty clean with little grain and strong blacks and reds in the club scenes and nighttime exterior scenes. The Japanese 2.0 mono audio track isn't much of a treat unless you enjoy hearing some guy who sounds like the Bob Dylan of Japan screaming the lyrics to the opening rock theme song off-key and unbalanced, but the volume levels are strong with good balance between the dialogue and music. English subtitles are provided.

 

Extras: 1/5

 

So it goes with Impulse's DVD treatment of the Nikkatsu movies, the only extra features on offer here are a relatively clean-looking theatrical trailer and an insert booklet containing detailed liner notes about Sex Hunter written by Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp and original poster art for the movie.

 

Overall: 2/5

 

Finally, one of the Nikkatsu movies from Impulse actually delivers in mindless, morally repugnant entertainment value. Sex Hunter: Wet Target looks and sounds better than ever on DVD but with nothing in the way of bonus features this one is recommended only for hardcore fans of early 70's Japanese sexploitation. You know who you are so stop hiding behind that hooded sweatshirt, you weirdo.