The Film (3.5/5)
University student Ryoko travels to Tokyo as part of an exchange student program and meets up with a friend from her past, Rumiko. Rumiko shamelessly explores her thriving sexuality, unafraid to show off body or to take advantage of her married lover’s brief stop in for a quickie. The modest Ryoko preserves her innocence with the opposite sex and puts a gradual halt on Rumiko’s lesbian advances toward her due to a mysterious and troublesome secret involved in her small town. When a burglar violates Ryoko and Rumiko in their hotel room, their relationship becomes unstable and Ryoko’s sexual appetite becomes so unquenchable she enters a sex cult world where her virginity and pureness is celebrated by perverse older men.
For a society with a vastly known and established culture of being severely strict about proper formalities, the central focus of "assault" or "rape" films from the Nikkatsu's Romantic Porn (aka Roman Porn) during the late 1970's spread like wild fire, gaining popularity amongst both men and women alike. Even with the taboo and socially ugly word like "rape," a string of Roman Porn couldn't be produced fast enough. "Sexual Assault at a Hotel," also known as "Rape Me: Sexual Assault at a Hotel," started early in the trend of rape labeled films. Director Koretsugu Kurahara's Roman Porn stint only lasted through a handful of Nikkatsu films and Kurahara's popularity didn't skyrocket amongst other Nikkatsu directors such as Yasuharu Hasebe who helmed the first violent pink film "Rape!," but Kurahara's entry doesn't go unnoticed, doesn't bypass the patrons of eroticism, and certainly doesn't dull in rape fantasy.
Two beautiful, young women in the big city of Tokyo challenge each other's sexual experiences and inexperiences. Their lesbian past brings their lonely hearts together: Ryoko, played by Yuri Yamahsina, has her tragic hometown secret and Rumiko, played by Erina Miyai, with her on-and-off relationship with a married man. The two rely on each other for comfort, yet simultaneously, they're the perfect examples of two powerful magnets trying to touch each other and instead repel away with an unseen force. Ryoko also has an attraction defection where low-life men hover around her like a moth to a flame and her innocence doesn't allow her to defend herself against them; whereas Rumiko can have any man she wants, but chooses to fall for the unavailable one. Their yin and yang rekindled relationship doesn't last long enough to see the end of their own circumstances play out.
What I found favorable about Kurahara's film is the film's birth decade. The 1970's were a bit overzealous with the foley artistry. The Bruce Lee slaps and punches that resemble the sounds of an open faced slap on a slab of meat meet the scene mise-en-scene and while they're wonderfully dated and certainly nostalgic, I still find their implementations odd in a Roman Porn. The 1970's were also more ambiguous with titles as well, especially with Nikkatsu titles as many of the Japanese words or phrases didn't translate quite literally into English. "Hotel kyosei waisetsu jiken: okashite!" is the Japanese title for "Rape Me: Sexual Assault at a Hotel," but the translation is more similar to this: "Hotel coerced obscenity incident: violator."
With the majority of pink film titles containing aggressively suggestive terminology, Kurahara delivers more beautifully on the Roman part of the Porno rather than the violent pink of the title, such as this Kurahara film, might suggest. A couple of scenes stand out, involving both actresses Yamashina and Miyai, as being part of a proper pink duality: romantic sex and violating sex. The first is the coy lesbian scene where Rumiko aggresses her lust for Ryoko, immediately beginning to caress and kiss Ryoko's body. Initially, Ryoko holds back, forcing Rumiko's hand away, but the dismissal method was only a smoke screen for the horrible secret she kept stowed away and before Ryoko dives into her past with Rumiko, she quickly changes her tune and invites Rumiko to continue to kiss and explore her body. The scene is surprisingly sexy, but in deep are more underlining issues that are being masked by the sex. The second scene references back to film’s title; Ryoko has passed out from an emotional night of tears, booze, and pills. She’s unconscious with her kimono open, exposing her chest and then, a burglar enters her flat. He studies Ryoko’s body, choosing an uncertain moment of whether or not to take advantage of the situation. Kurahara removes from the scene something I’ve rarely seen removed in other pink films – the sound. As the burglar decides to test the waters, all sounds are lowered down with no soundtrack, no dialogue, and very little ambiance, creating a undeniable tension and a sharp eroticism during an undomesticated moment of no self control.
However, no amount of eclectic scenes can support a choppy segue storyline and that’s the severe issue with “Sexual Assault at a Hotel.” The first two acts are coherent with a storyline seamlessly following Ryoko and Rumiko living their separate, yet parallel lives in Tokyo, but the transition in the third act looses steam, becoming lost in translation with Kurahara’s intentions for the characters. The event that causes Ryoko to break off her friendship with Rumiko, blaming her for all the troubles that pursued Ryoko, and giving in to an archeologist named Hondo and his sex-crazed cult which becomes the blowout finale that's fairly standard of many pink projects.
Impulse Pictures presents Koretsugu Kurahara's "Rape Me: Sexual Assault at a Hotel" in a gorgeous 2.35:1 aspect ration in an anamorphic widescreen. There's not much in depth detail here with the video presentation as I'm quite pleased with the quality, clear and colorful as can be expected of this release.
The Japanese 2.0 mono mix with removable subtitles syncs very well, no delay or misinterpretations. Again, no real issue here with the quality as the dialogue, ambience, and soundtrack are well balanced.
An original theatrical trailer and a liner notes, splayed with poster art of the beautifully naked Yuri Yamashina, from Japanese Film Scholar, Jasper Sharp, are the only extras.
This Koretsugu Kurahara film is a trashy and sleazy pinky film with minor undertones of mental health issues. Despite the racy title, only one graceful scene revolves around sexual assault and the other scenes are a bit downplayed for a Nikkatsu Erotic Collection film. The quality of the release is exceptional, but the quality of the story and the sleaziness content won't appeal to everyone, even those delighted by pink films. I would still recommend this title because I believe there's more underneath the covers, behind the outer shell, and one would need to dig deep to see the bones the flesh covers.