Friday, 27 June 2014

Slave Contract (1982) Masaru Konuma

Masaru Konuma is mostly talked about for his 70's run of genre defining classics, making a legend of Naomi Tani and getting Nikkatsu to focus on pinkus primarily. But he wasn't a slouch in later, lesser known work and indeed Slave Contract is something of an early 80's highlight. The tale of political analyst Mikami and his wife Yuriko who take on slave girl Nami, it's simply plotted and curiously warm, good hearted stuff that rings emotionally truer than many of its contemporaries. So many either largely abandoned character or wove their sleaze through the sort of twisted plotting and mean spirit that swiftly feels cynical and pandering but Slave Contract actually feels human. Mikami is certainly a sleazeball but he isn't a sadist or even especially mean, instead a wry, content and almost gentle type, Yuriko is poised, capable of passionate depths but conflicted and Nami captures both a subhuman state and humanity breaking out in playful assertiveness and yearning. Even Nami's trainer the one notably nasty character of the film, isn't really a villain but a businessman with an eye for the angles. Some genre fans will surely be put off by the way that the film doesn't reach for extremes and things don't mount with too much weirdness (other than a truly eyebrow raising tweak on the racial aspect of slavery) or suspense, but the way the characters operate and rub together is compelling and sympathetic, feeling almost mature. These are unusual people in an unusual situation but they care for one another and try to work through things in a beneficial manner. Pinku lovers shouldn't be too worried by the above though as there's a whole lot of sleaze from start to finish, like dog play, a lit candle in the butt and more, all attractively shot with a merciful avoidance of any genital blurring. The kinder approach in general does mean that the film doesn't have too much of a kick apart from brief snatches, and it also lays the wonky sexual politics a little too bare, with a sinister vibe the essentially unpleasant fantasies of these films are easier to take than when they seem to just be treated positively. But that's only really a negative if you want it to be, after all why shouldn't this stuff be laid a little barer once in a while? All in all this is good fun stuff, delivering on most of the expected fronts, and Nami Matsukawa (also of Konuma's Rope and Breasts) is notably lovely as Nami. Not spectacular, but you should still check it out post haste.

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