If Dirty Harry had been a detective in feudal Japan, his antics might have resembled those of the hero of THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE, the first entry of a mind-boggling sex-and-swordplay samurai series (made in 1972, but released on US video in 1997) about an incorruptible and
indestructible cop whose unique method of interrogating female suspects is to rape them with his extraordinarily large penis and then stop, making them confess as they beg for more.
Police investigator Hanzo Itami (Shintaro Katsu), nicknamed "The Razor" because of his skill with swords, learns that a contract killer named Kanbei has escaped from prison, and that his corrupt boss Onishi is having an affair with Kanbei's ex-girlfriend Omino. Itami arrests Omino on a trumped-up
murder charge, then rapes her until she tells him that Kanbei was never sent to prison because a mystery woman bribed Onishi and forced him to let Kanbei go. Onishi tries to have Omino killed so she won't talk, but Itami rescues her, then kills Kanbei in a duel.
Suspecting that only someone from the Inner Castle could wield such power over Onishi, Itami uncovers evidence that a woman named Oyura, who's the daughter of the court physician, is involved in the plot. After fending off an attack by a group of ninjas, Itami abducts Oyura and rapes her until she
admits that she had helped to free Kanbei because he had rescued her from a kidnapping attempt. Orayu's father shows up at Itami's house with the police commissioner to file a complaint, but Orayu denies being abducted, and tells her father that she wishes to live with Itami.
With its graphically violent displays of human rights violations and delirious depictions of ecstatic rape victims (not to mention some outlandish penis POV shots), THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE just may be the most politically incorrect movie ever made, but it's so outrageously giddy that the
effect is disarming rather than exploitative. Even the clues to the mystery are comically sexual in nature: among them, the fact that Itami deduces that Kanbei's ex-girlfriend is also Onishi's mistress because they're both described as having no pubic hair. Also mitigating the film's offensiveness
is the fact that it's extremely stylized and abstract, starting with the split-screen credits sequence, showing Itami stalking across a giant map of Japan, accompanied by wonderfully cheesy theme music.
The mystery plot is rather convoluted, but the film's real raison d'etre are the astonishing demonstrations of Itami's astonishing prowess--both with his sword and his superhuman endowment. Using shadows, oblique angles, and out-of-focus shots, entire scenes are devoted to his ritualized care of
his penis: smacking it with a stick while it's resting on a specially designed wooden block, and finally having intercourse with a straw basket filled with grains of rice. Similarly, to prepare for combat, he blithely conducts torture tests on himself in which his servants place concrete blocks on
his legs while he kneels on wooden spikes. Shintaro Katsu, who had previously starred in the legendary series of ZATO ICHI films, gives a swaggering, stone-faced performance, and samurai veteran director Kenji Misumi fills the widescreen frame with furious action and geysers of gushing blood. The
film may be a feminist nightmare, but for connoisseurs of arty S&M, it's an absolute hoot. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1972
- Rating: NR
- Review: If Dirty Harry had been a detective in feudal Japan, his antics might have resembled those of the hero of THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE, the first entry of a mind-boggling sex-and-swordplay samurai series (made in 1972, but released on US video in 1997) abou… (more)