Closer to a grindhouse/blaxploitation than a pink/sex movie, Yukihiro Sawada’s Sex Hunter: Wet Target (1972) has a mulatto Japanese wreaking havoc and bloodshed when he tracks down his sister’s rapists. But it’s probably the “live” sex gigs in the film that draw the attention. Stephen Tan reviews.
Sad to say, 23 years after Yukihiro Sawada’s 1972 movie, Sex Hunter: Wet Target, a similar incident as depicted in the film did happen in Japan.
The 1995 Okinawa rape incident refers to a rape that took place on September 4, 1995, when three US servicemen, US Navy Seaman Marcus Gill and US Marines Rodrico Harp and Kendrick Ledet, all from Camp Hansen on Okinawa, rented a van and kidnapped a 12-year-old Japanese girl. They beat her, duct-taped her eyes and mouth shut, and bound her hands. Gill and Harp then raped her, while Ledet claimed he only pretended to do so out of fear of Gill. - Wikipedia
Walking home after work one night, Natsuko and Etsuoko were raped by three US soldiers stationed in Japan. When Natsuko shouts at the men, they pissed on her and later forced a black soldier who happened to cycle by to rape her. Natsuko was so overcome with grief and shame that she hanged herself at the spot as the men were having their way with Etsuoko.
Natsuko’s mulatto brother, Okamoto (who has an afro hair-style), was in jail when the incident happened. Incensed by the rape and death of his sister, Okamoto tried to escape when he had a chance but did not succeed. When he was finally released, he decided to find out the identity of his sister’s killers as that information has been hushed up by both the Japanese authorities and American military.
Finding a job as a bartender, one of Okamoto’s first duties included being a stud in a live sex show; his partner being the still traumatised and practically zombified Etsuoko. Further instigation and information by pimp/drug trafficker Taki lead Okamoto to three American soldiers - two had already died in action and the third in hospital with both legs blown off. (Filled with remorse, the black soldier had earlier hanged himself.) However, Okamoto did not manage to kill the remaining soldier.
At a private party attended by American military bigwigs, Okamoto is asked to partner Etsuoko but a distressed Etsuoko snaps something in Okamoto who turns the party into a bloodbath.
The title, Sex Hunter: Wet Target, doesn’t really convey fully what Yukihiro Sawada’s movie is about. Over the years, non-Japanese Asian viewers have been shown, especially in Hong Kong movies, a stereotypical image of the cruel Japanese - for a quick frame of reference, Bruce Lee’s Japanese opponents in Fist Of Fury. Yukihiro Sawada’s movie is just the opposite. And it’s likely the 1995 Okinawa rape incident was not an isolated case.
This time, it is the foreigners who are the villains. The Japanese police are aware of the crimes the American foreigners committed - the rape and death of Natsuko - but are helpless to do anything about it.
Given the time the film was made, America was deep in the Vietnam War and, for the Japanese, appeasement seemed to be the operative word and also, the income generated when the American soldiers go on R&R was much welcomed by the Japanese, something which someone like Taki can understand and not to force the issue, but which he inevitably did. A “by-product” of such R&R is the mixed race that Okamoto belongs to - though his parentage is not mentioned, his sexual prowess and the size of his member is alluded to.
However, Sex Hunter: Wet Target does not fully develop the “hate crime” angle. While the rape (and death) of Natsuko and Etsuoko is unpardonable, with the pissing on Natsuko driving the “hate” meter several notches up, there is no back story on the Okamoto-Natsuko relationship.
It could very well have been a case of familial love of one sibling taking revenge for the death of the other. Or, if one is adventurous, one could even postulate on a brother-sister incestuous relationship; or that Natsuko has been supporting Okamoto’s lifestyle (whatever that is, and one that has gotten him in jail in the first place).
If viewers aren’t exactly clear about Okamoto’s motives, Okamoto also does not come across as a decent person. Or is that the director hoping to build up Okamoto’s machoness? One of the first things Okamoto does when he gets out of jail is to knock down Taki and force Taki’s woman to give him a blowjob. Later, when he visits the home of one of the American soldiers, learning that the soldier is dead, he rapes the soldier’s Japanese wife/mistress/girlfriend.
But then, this being a pink Nikkatsu movie, all the above practically pales when it comes to the nudity and sex in the film. Natsuko and Etsuoko have their clothes violently torn off; get violently raped and Natsuko gets peed on as well. The sex takes a decidedly more “artistic” turn - though some say bizarre - in the sex live show sequences featuring Okamoto and Etsuoko. Against a jazzy soundtrack, the sex live show might be erotically charged though viewers will be hard put to say if these sequences are exploitative as compared to the ones showing the soldiers raping Natsuko and Etsuoko.
And sure, there is a blood bath but the violence isn’t gory. But by then, the viewer is also most likely cheering Okamoto on, with the aforementioned “hate-crime” rendered impotent and relegated to the back of the mind.
Note: The Sex Hunter: Wet Target DVD (Impulse/Nikkatsu) is banned in $ingapore.