Underworld Beauty

Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
Pardon my language but this is one kick ass DVD cover. I love the character pictured and the whole look of it doesn’t jump at you as if it were a movie from the fifties, but it still has a hint of that era with her outfit and the crazy gun she’s holding. I love this cover because it’s loaded with personality and it does give you a flavor of what this movie is all about. A tough chick in the middle of some heavy duty gangster action doesn’t seem like something that would come out of movies back in the day, but I’m sure glad Japanese film makers were ahead of the times!!

Extras and Features: 1/10
Hmm, did someone say “extras”? I think the people who made this DVD might not be aware of a little group of folk out here called, “DVD FANS” who love to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff behind movies, all movies, especially ones like this. I am not in an area where Japanese movies are all the rage or even accessible so when I get my hands on something different I want to know everything there is to know about it. I was just a bit disappointed with this DVD. I guess I’ll just have to scour the web for info about Underworld Beauty.

The Movie: 7/10:
As a movie watching experience this movie would get a eight or nine out of ten. It’s great fun and the story is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s If I were to judge it on a couple of things like acting and editing, it would have to drop down a bit, but then again, almost fifty years ago film making was a lot different. The standards were different in terms of performances and how a movie came together in the final cut. As for directing, this a really really eye-catching film. There are a lot of scenes where composition and art design are taken into great consideration with careful camera placement and surprisingly progressive.

I love this movie. There I said it. It’s got a great story and the lead female character is just wonderful. I love the bold way she is played by Mari Shiraki. She moves comfortably around each scene as if she were living the part. She has moments of refined subtlety and turns around with a loud over the top theatrical gesture and the contrast just simply makes her endlessly watchable.

There are some interesting things I find as I watch old movies. In Underworld Beauty there is a scene where Shiraki stands at a lamp turning it on and off, on and off, on and off, while she seriously contemplates something. Hmmmm sound familiar? It makes me wonder how much we see in films today might be glimmers of old movies that writers and directors have seen and then just weave them into more modern stories.

Speaking of story, this one is really interesting, if not old school, at least there are twists and turns that could rival any of today’s edgy plots. Stolen diamonds are the root of all evil and desire in this film, and they do get around. These three little beauties start out in a sewer, and somehow find themselves being reclaimed from a dead man’s intestinal tract, while later they wind up back to their roots in a pile of burning coal. This isn’t your standard fifties gangster flick, even though it does have a lot of the elements, like the cool hats, lots of gun play, and a sleazy boss figure who has just a bit too much ego. It has all of those ingredients, but still manages to break out of the norm with a handful of interesting characters and really intriguing images to keep you wanting more. There is even a manequin who has a strategically placed pole to which your eye is drawn immediately during a couple of scenes. Is it just me and my sophomoric mentality, or does a mannequin with a metal rod in an unmentionable place make everyone a little nervous?

Value: 7/10
For $15 you must try this movie out if you like reading subtitles and you really want to have a good movie watching experience. Don’t be afraid of it just because it’s Japanese. For that matter, don’t be afraid of any movie that’s not in your native tongue, it won’t kill ya to broaden your horizons. My only complaint is that there are no extras, but for the price and the quality of the film I can bump the score a bit.

Overall Score 7/10