Palm Pictures // 2003 // 91 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brendan Babish (Retired) // May 29th, 2007
Can a genius call girl save the world?
I first saw The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai at the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival. The screening attracted a packed house, and before the movie began a nervous representative of the festival addressed the crowd: "I usually know how an audience is going to respond to the films I pick," he said. "But I have no idea how you're going to react to this. It's basically soft porn." Light applause. "It also advocates the execution of George W. Bush for war crimes." Loud, protracting cheering.
I remember thinking at the time, have things really gotten this bad for W? Even people in a purple state are cheering his execution. Now, with the electoral thumpin' delivered last November and record low approval ratings, the market for anti-Bush screeds is beginning to get saturated, and the dissatisfied multitudes seem to have run out of ways to express their displease. But this film finds a new a tack to attack our president, and this makes the DVD release of The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai timely indeed.
The movie is a pink film, which is a uniquely Japanese subgenre of soft-core pornography. The definition of pink films is a little loose (heh heh), and movies vary greatly in content, but they tend to be short (approximately an hour in length) and must contain strong sexual content -- although Japan's strict censorship laws prevent the explicit depiction of genitalia and penetration. The law notwithstanding, Japan's pink filmmakers are very imaginative, and you would be surprised how grossly indecent these movies can be. The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai is the first film -- pink or otherwise -- directed by Mitsuru Meike. Considering that his first movie -- out of the hundred or so pink films produced annually -- got an American release is an impressive feat.
The film opens with a lengthy sex scene between the titular Sachiko -- a dim-witted Tokyo prostitute -- and a young, overzealous client. At the end of the session the young man ejaculates on Sachiko for about half a minute. If you find this early gag amusing, you'll probably enjoy the rest of the movie. If you find it puerile, then I'll save you some time: you won't like this film. It only gets worse from here.
While dining in a café Sachiko is shot in the head by a North Korean spy. The bullet lodges in her brain and gives her Good Will Hunting-like intelligence. Sachiko also has a voracious appetite for sex, though it is unclear whether the bullet is the cause. She begins a tryst with a local professor, then moves on to his son, and eventually to the North Korean spy who shot her. In a particularly odd scene she also has sex with George W. Bush's finger. All of these encounters are shown in extremely graphic detail (though remember, per Japanese obscenity laws, there is no penetration).
I could explain the plot further, but it really doesn't make much sense. It involves the cloning of George W. Bush's finger so a nuclear device can be detonated in Japan, but, believe me, it doesn't matter. The movie takes so many pit stops, or rather, sex stops, it's obvious Meike isn't too concerned with his own story.
That said, the movie does have its charms. It's irreverent, it's original, and Emi Juroda, the actress who plays Sachiko, sure is a trooper. But the sex gets tedious quickly, and even at a hair over 90 minutes the movie long overstays its welcome. Still, if a group of 14-year-old boys watched this film during a sleepover I wouldn't be surprised if they dubbed it the best film ever made.
Don't be fooled by the DVD's seemingly impressive trove of extras. Horny Home Tutor is basically a truncated, one-hour cut of the feature film. The Adventure of Sachiko Hanai is a mildly amusing seven-minute video clip of some scantily clad women alternately wrestling and role-playing with a George W. Bush doll. Yeah, I know that sounds good, but it's pretty underwhelming. That said, it's kind of surprising that this DVD has any special features at all, so Palm Pictures does deserve some credit for trying. As for the picture and sound, this is a low-budget skinflick; it's about what you would expect.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Palm Pictures
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Japanese)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Horny Home Tutor: Teacher's Love Juice (Original Japanese Pink Film)
* The Adventures of Sachiko Hanai (Short Film)
* What is Pink Film?
* Japanese Trailer
* U.S. Trailer
* Official Site