Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack
(Mesubachi no gyakushu) (1971)
Directed by Norifumi Suzuki

Artistic Value: * * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * * ½

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Reiko (Reiko Ike) and her gang of young female hoodlums try to live as 'stray dogs,' supporting themselves with a series of thefts, scams, and other criminal adventures, although they do occasionally require the help of Jiro (Shinsuke Taki), the leader of a small yakuza group. Unfortunately, when Jiro wants Reiko to have sex with a loan shark whose services are needed by his superior (the head of a larger yakuza organization), she fails to show up, choosing to have sex with another man instead. As a consequence, Jiro angers his boss, who dissolves his underling's gang; Reiko, meanwhile, by engaging in a relationship that was not for profit (and so violating the rules of her own gang), is removed as boss by her rival, Jun (Yukie Kagawa), who proceeds to inflict punishment upon her erstwhile superior. Later, after having fought and beaten Jun, and thereby regaining her position, Reiko comes to Jiro's assistance. The pair then set out to defeat the yakuza who had previously supported that man and who now are trying to set up a drug manufacturing operation.

Norifumi Suzuki's Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack is hardly the director's best work, but it is still an exciting, fascinating, and deliciously exploitative romp.


The movie's rambling story largely consists of a series of picaresque adventures, every one of which is a joy to watch. Some are alive with danger, others with intrigue. Some are burning with emotion, others are simply strange. Many are thrilling, and even more are wildly sexy. While the narrative may not have a defined trajectory, it is not hurt by this. Instead, the story is actually more alive thanks to its meandering course. Since its every turn, its every sudden change, is so engaging, each of these actually involves the viewer ever more deeply with the characters.


What is more, the movie is absolutely packed with one lurid event after the next. One young woman, hoping to join the heroines' gang, is ordered to break her hymen with her finger, which she does while sitting on a toilet in a public restroom (Suzuki even shows the blood in the water beneath the woman after she has finished the chore). The protagonists proposition a salaryman, only to drug him and steal his money. Together with a gang of yakuza, they take photographs of a congressman and a young pop idol having sex and attempt to blackmail the pair. When that plot fails, certain yakuza, with the help of some of the heroines, gang rape the young female singer in an elevator. In what has got to be the movie's single most memorable scene, each of the heroines simultaneously has sex with a man while lying on the back of a motorcycle her partner is driving. The director revels in such content, and he makes every disreputable occurrence a pleasure to see.

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In spite of the movie's sleazy tone, Suzuki, as is often the case in his films, shows considerable affinity for his female protagonists. The harshness of their lives is always made clear, as is the fact that their troubles are largely due to the actions of men, to how men mistreat and abuse women. In fact, not only are the heroines portrayed sympathetically, but Reiko's personality is fairly well developed. The viewer is given some insight into both her hardness and her vulnerability so that he is likely to find himself involved in her existence.


Happily, the world Reiko and the other protagonists inhabit is also nicely brought to life. While not as visually stunning as are many of Suzuki's other films, Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack is still a delight simply to look at. The director has included a number of impressive, dramatic shots, some of which, thanks to their gorgeous composition and framing, look as though they are some master's paintings that have been brought to the screen. Suzuki really does prove himself capable both of using images to capture the emotional intensity of a given scene and of showing the viewer the harsh, brutal, yet exciting environment in which his characters live. The movie's visual appeal is further enhanced by the attention the director pays to his actress's bodies. Over and over and over again, Suzuki exposes to the viewer some young woman's naked torso, whether he is depicting one of these persons having sex, engaging in a brawl in which her opponent succeeds in ripping away her garments, or stripping in front of the managers of a store in order to prove that she has not been shoplifting (even though she has been). Thanks to the sheer number of such sequences, and the glee with which the actress's physical charms are displayed, the movie always has a delightful, captivating sensuousness.


Girl Boss Blues: Queen Bee's Counterattack is, without a doubt, an exploitation film. It is also affecting, enthralling, and beautifully made.

Review by Keith Allen

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