Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kandagawa Pervert Wars (1983) is a wry look at the tussle between sexual abuse and sexual liberation and the young man caught with his pants down between his mother and two young women. Stephen Tan reviews.
Many noted Japanese filmmakers start off by making pinku (soft-porn) movies and Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure, Pulse, Tokyo Sonata) is no different.
Akiko is a free-spirited young woman who would rather spend her days lazing in her apartment, having sex with her boyfriend and looking at the world outside through her telescope - anything but going to work.
Hoping to catch a falling star with her telescope, Akiko instead comes across a mother and her son having sex in the opposite apartment. Is this for real or is it a case of sexual abuse? Akiko calls her friend, Masami, and the two start to spy on the mother and son. Feeling aghast at the incestuous relationship, Akiko and Masami - the two also share a lesbian relationship - take it upon themselves to put a stop to the mother-and-son sex.
Akiko and Masami are thrown out of the building when they see the apartment’s manager. Climbing up to the apartment from the outside, the two are beaten off, time and again, by the boy’s mother who feels that nothing can come between her and her son.
Clutching her son who has just had sex with Akiko, the Mother says: “This child’s body won’t accept any woman but me. I raised him this way. He is mine. That’s the way it is. This child is mine. I gave birth to him.Nobody is to blame me! Nobody!”
While Akiko’s sense of romance and love borders on the surreal, she also feels that the Son should get some “proper” sex with her! As Akiko increasingly becomes listless and starts to obssess over the Son, she begins to neglect her boyfriend, Ryo. Not answering the door when Ryo turns up [Akiko had been too occupied masturbating], Ryo ends up chatting and having sex with Masami in her apartment.
The Son tries to escape by climbing down from his apartment and crossing a large drain. Akiko sees this and goes to help. The Mother, who is out shopping, spots the two and a tussle for the Son takes place in the drain. Eventually, the son puts the tired-out Mother on a piece of wood which floats off.
Akiko and the Son go to the roof to have sex, which leads to the Son falling off the building. Seeing there’s nothing left for her, Akiko follows suit.
Nubile young women having sex together, incest, and voyeurism - that’s already a potent mix. But in lesser hands, this could be another run of the mill sex comedy. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who would later become a critic’s favourite, knew how to spice things up. With some voiceovers, the Akiko character is deftly sketched out - enough to be intriguing but not enough to give a full picture. That generally goes for all the characters and a result is a “thriller” of sorts.
Viewers are left to wonder, initially, about the sexual relationship between Akiko and Masami and Ryo. Then they are posed with the incest between mother and son and if there is anything else diabolical between them. And because Hitchcock had already made such a splash with the telescope in Rear Window, there is hardly any gasp of surprise or recognition when viewers first see Akiko spying through her telescope.
Overall, it is perhaps that touch of Hitchcockian suspense in the movie - what is going to happen next is a common reaction throughout the film - that gives Kandagawa Pervert Wars a certain appeal. In spite of the limited scope of the script and film, certain scenes are too stretched out - both the tussle between Akiko and Masami and the Mother for the Son in the Mother’s apartment; and the tussle between Akiko and the Mother in the drain - are too drawn out and easily blunt the comedic edge. Still, Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser, of Asian Cult Cinema, have given the film a thumbs up for its “witty dialogue and very likable characters”.
Somehow, it’s hard to fault a movie where its two young female leads enjoy having sex with each other yet balk at the very thought of a mother and son having a go at each other; and that the two young women then decide to “liberate” the young man. Otherwise, where is the fun in that?
Note: The Kandagawa Pervert Wars DVD (Million Film) is banned in $ingapore.