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Artsmagic have released the 5 movies
on Region 1 DVD as ANGEL GUTS -
Collector's Edition boxset:

High School Co-ed
Red Classroom
Nami
Red Porno
Red Vertigo (aka: Red Dizziness)

 
 
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Angel Guts: Red Dizziness
cast: Mayako Katsuragi, Naoto Takenaka

director: Takashi Ishii

78 minutes (unrated) 1988
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Artsmagic NTSC DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Michael Bunning
A little background first: Takashi Ishii wrote his Angel Guts manga in the 1970s. It explored various aspects of sex and violence. It was a big hit. The Nikkastsu studio had developed financial difficulties, and as a guaranteed revenue source, began making pinku (porn, basically) movies. In the late 1980s, they commissioned a series of pinku based on Takashi Ishii's manga. Red Dizziness is the fourth volume of the five films, and the only one directed by Ishii himself, though all of the volumes are based on his comics, and he wrote the screenplays for four of them. They're all about rape. Yep, you read that right. Rape-porn. The Angel Guts part of the title apparently refers to the strength that the angel (the raped woman) shows. Feminist rape-porn!

Well, to my mind, it's just as unappealing as it sounds. I wouldn't normally give away the plot, but there isn't one really, and in any case, this is a porn film. You won't be watching it for the profound storyline. Basically, the main character Nami is cheated on by her boyfriend, raped by patients in the hospital she works in, knocked over by Muraki (the main male character), kidnapped and raped by him. Then she falls in love with him. He's shot and killed, and she thinks he's left her. And that's it.

Now, I'm trying to find the feminist angle in having the protagonist fall in love with the man who ran her over, molested her, raped her and kidnapped her, but I'm having trouble. The only positive thing I can find in the movie is that when Nami thinks Muraki has left her, she says: "I'll go back to Tokyo, move out [from her cheating boyfriend] and work hard." But it's one line out of the whole movie. The other 'positives' which Ishii tries to put into his film are thin, and few and far between. Both times Nami is raped; the rapist is ridiculed slightly. The first rapist ejaculates on his friend by accident, and Muraki can't maintain an erection. Nami has the power to forgive Muraki, and they only sleep together again once she has. Muraki is killed, but by this time he's not the rapist anymore, he's the romantic lead, and his death only serves to injure Nami some more.

Back on the negative side, she is raped twice and the only reason she gives for forgiving Muraki is that he takes her to a hotel where she has a bath (but he hasn't let her go: she's still his captive). It's nonsense, and to have her immediately fall in love with him says more about the way Ishii sees women than any female empowerment. Nami is never really in control at any point in the film. She's cheated on, abused and subjugated, treated as an object by every man in the film; and she falls in love with the worst offender. She comes to enjoy being treated as subhuman. Possibly this reflects Japanese society, but I sincerely doubt that Japanese women want to be treated as possessions. Of course, as I said earlier, this is a porn movie, and you probably aren't watching it out of a taste for world cinema. You want to see people having sex. Well, in this movie, you will. Lots. If you can get past the violence of most of the sex, and can wait for the very explicit 20-minute long sex scene in the hotel, you'll no doubt be entertained.

Other reviewers talk about the lush visuals of the movie, the mood lighting and expressive use of water shots. There are lots of rainy scenes, with raindrops hitting windows and pooling together; and in one scene, twin streams of urine mingling (presumably intended to foreshadow the intimate relationship between Nami and Muraki). But I can't really recommend this movie. There must be better porn out there (though not being an avid watcher myself, I can't point you in the direction of any); and what it says about rape is undermined by the lack of recrimination the film gives the rapists and the lack of any real power it gives Nami. In fact, even The Mexican's brief discussion of rape (between Julia Roberts and James Gandolfini) is a much more lucid and concise exploration than Angel Guts. The best thing I can say about this film is that it's short - only an hour and a quarter long. However, I think it's still too long. Several of the scenes are flabby and could do with a few seconds trimming from them, and one or two are completely unnecessary.

If you like Japanese pinku, or like the manga, you might enjoy this. If not, steer well clear.
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