"Fairy In A Cage" (1977) has just been given its' world DVD premiere by the Impulse/Synapse distributors as a continuation of their series of re-releases of the infamous Japanese 'Nikkatsu Studio's' line of 'Roman Porno' films. Based on a story/screenplay by the prolific Japanese fetish author: Oniroku Dan - "Fairy In A Cage" presents a pretty intense foray into S&M territory via a plot that focuses on the abuses of power and depravity purportedly perpetrated by the Japanese military during WW II against its' own citizens. The principal players in the movie include the Military Police and a corrupt/depraved senior official who jointly take a little too much personal pleasure in the 'interrogations' that they contrive. in the name of national security. to supply their torture chamber with victims, and the victims (both male & female) who fall into their clutches.
The action in this film is pretty harsh and may not be to everyone's taste - as it packs a lot of torture and bondage, brutality, & nudity into its' modest 71 min playtime. There is very little sex actually portrayed - the sexploitational elements in this one are decidedly S&M oriented. "Fairy In A Cage" is in many ways typical of other similar shocking 70's fare (such as the "Illsa" series). This genre of movies seemed to visualize the lurid stories that populated the 'Mens Magazines' of the post WW II era - that recounted tales of war atrocities (generally involving attractive women). white slavery, outlaw biker gangs, and the like. The difference between much of the sorta 'campy' USA and Euro sleaze product and the corresponding Japanese version is the grim nihilistic seriousness with which some of the Nipponese films unwind... including this one!
There is a tradition of this stark sadistic style of exploitation cinema in Japan that gives some context to "Fairy In A Cage". The so-called "Tokugawa" torture trilogy of films from the late 1960's all feature scenarios in ancient Japan of horrible abuse perpetrated by feudal rulers upon their subjects, with no restitution in sight! Innocent people get horrifically tortured to death... and that's it. Many Japanese exploitation plots end on a decidedly 'down' note - perhaps adding to their shock value. "Fairy In A Cage" follows this general precedent, but is unusual in that it depicts a more modern period of history, and atrocious acts that no government would be proud of. Given the general reticence that the Japanese political hierarchy has traditionally displayed about admitting to human rights violations during war-times - it is particularly intriguing that Nikkatsu Studios (often beleaguered by politically motivated legal actions) would choose such an audaciously revealing indictment of the Japanese military as subject matter for one of their ero-productions.
Many Japanese Pink eroflix are awash in transgressive scenarios and fetish imagery and "Fairy In A Cage" certainly ranks high amongst them. A highlight of the film is the lovely Naomi Tani who portrays the central tormented heroine of the tale with amazing aplomb and endurance as she is subjected to rigorous bondage ties and humiliations - as only the Japanese can dream them up! Ms Tani is renowned for her numerous bondage films with Nikkatsu and in this, later career, filmic effort she again looks lovely, abundantly decorated with rope, but her 'character' does not get much of an opportunity to do much more than stoically 'suffer in silence'- making this 'not' one of her best performances. This film obeys the typical (70's vintage) Japanese censorship laws regarding (not) showing genitals or explicit sex acts, but it accomplishes this via 'creative' camera angles. While this 'technique' may be a little 'maddening' to modern western viewers who are used to being able to 'see everything' (in great detail) - at least there is no. annoying. visual 'fogging' on this disk. Despite the lack of blatant graphic depictions - the 'inferred' acts are certainly 'bent' enuf to satisfy the connoisseur of same. The image transfer quality (from an original 35mm film print) is excellent (widescreen) - the (removable) English subs are good - there are no extras on the disk... but the box has the usual informative write-up on the film's background by Japanerotic film expert: Jasper Sharp.
Personally, I'm a fan of '70's-80's period' Japanese ero-weirdness and I enjoyed this movie - but would caution that it is very BDSM oriented - while not XXX it is certainly adults only material. I backed off from a full 5 Star rating primarily because I felt that there was a bit of a lack in empathy producing character development, and it WAS just SO darn grim! However, IF you (too) like such 'shocking' fare "Fairy In A Cage" is definitely worth checking out.