Thursday, 9 January 2014

Secretary Rope Discipline (1981) Hidehiro Ito

Quite undeservedly little seen, Secretary Rope Discipline may ultimately tread territory neither especially unique, insightful or incendiary but is a surprisingly nicely thought out and satisfying affair in its pink cinema terms. The story is simply based, Eguchi is a secretary for a design firm caught stealing samples for a rival, who is then imprisoned and as the title suggests, disciplined. Actually not so many ropes, but she's certainly disciplined. What's fun is how the story and characters develop though, a way that agreeably challenges order. In a society of such high value placed on honour and loyalty, betraying one's company, one's value in the world, for personal aims is a pretty big no no. Yet as incest, sadism, meaner scheming and personal betrayal mount Eguchi takes on sympathy not just for reluctantly doing a bad thing in good faith and taking harsh punishment but for being a pretty straightforward person caught up in a decidedly twisted world This isn't just ironic critique though, in the latter half the film shifts gears to provide genuine uplift as Eguchi is allowed beyond her corporate value. It's ironic still, but in a positive way, almost feel-good actually.

Of course all this wouldn't matter much if this wasn't effective sleaze. Sure there are plenty of pink flicks that were essentially thoughtful adult dramas with a few tits and asses but this is no such slice of life or historical fare, from pretty much the opening and the title on this is entertainment minded. There's whipping, douching, fun with jam and general degradation, as well as a few more standard sex scenes. Pretty effective erotic charge at times, albeit in a perverse manner. Plus the actors are both attractive and pretty solid, gorgeous Junko Makubi most effective in the lead going through lust, fear, despair, acceptance and strength, Yumi Hayakawa deceptively juvenile but smartly vicious, Rika Takahara happily screwy and the males convincing in their sadder orbits. And the shooting smartly captures emotion from more than just faces, take for instance an early dance in which a hand traces out the lust from innocent verve.

The genital obscuring is an irritation, even though a couple of scenes are stronger than a lot of such films in their implication of penetration and there is some use of obscuring ornaments. Bright patches do still appear to stop us from seeing anything naughty and one really wishes the visuals were a bit smarter so as to avoid them. Other, better directors have avoided them, while this is the first Hidehiro Ito I've seen he seems good enough that he too could have avoided them with a bit of wit and effort. Oh well, it matters not too much. This is generally good stuff, dark, arousing, fun and even happy. One of the few internet mentions I've seen calls it “really quite foul” and that's an overstatement, but genre fans should definitely give this a whirl. Over and out...

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