Red Vertigo (1988)

Rating: C-

Dir: Takashi Ishii
Star: Mayako Katsuragi, Naoto Takenaka

The best way to describe this is as a roman porno take on Last Tango in Paris. Two people, both desperately unhappy in their lives, literally collide, and find solace in ferocious physical couplings. Nami (Katsuragi, who was also in The Toxic Avenger, Part II!) is a nurse, whose husband is a “glamour” photographer; when she comes home early one day, after being attacked by a patient, she catching him boffing one of his models. She runs onto the street, and is knocked over by stockbroker Muraki, who’s just been caught embezzling funds. He abducts her, and thus begins a somewhat strange relationship between the two, where the power shifts between kidnapper and victim.

This was the first film ever directed by Ishii, so it seems logical to conclude that this is the closest to the spirit of his manga. Certainly, this is the strongest “Nami” in the series, who simply does not buckle under the multiple attempts to grind her down (she is, however, quite good at running away from them…). There is a lack of artistic pretence to the sex here that proves something of a double-edged sword. It provides a grounding in reality, but does leave things almost entirely unerotic; it’s more like watching the Discovery Channel than anything. As such, despite more depth and attention to character than you’d expect, this should be filed as an interesting failure.