I’m flipping through channels on a rainy Saturday night, hoping to find anything beyond the usual array of vapid Japanese variety shows with people eating overexaggeratedly delicious food. I begin venturing off into those far-down-the-line channels that nearly always remain unchecked…
I’m nearly asleep in my bored desperation, but churning through the channels like a half-asleep zombie reveals a short burst of 70s kung-fu movie band funk…
I go back…
There are no subtitles and with my horrible Japanese I only have about half a clue what’s happening, but from what I’ve gathered, ‘The 13 Steps’ are a gang of hot juvenile delinquent girls led by their unflappably bad-ass leader, Maki (Shihomi). They get mixed up on the wrong side of some Yakuza and before you know it, Maki’s gang is destroyed and she’s left alone on an epic quest for vengeance.
It’s like ‘Kill Bill,’ except even cooler.
Over the course of her vengeance spree we encounter:
1) A juvenile delinquent jail filled with hot criminal girls trying to take Maki down
2) A hot delinquent on hot delinquent fight in an animal pen involving a claw
3) Maki with nun-chucks owning entire hoards of bad guys, including the requisite ‘Old School Japanese guy with Katana’
4) Gallons upon gallons of fake blood, stabbings, and disfigurations, all completely overdone and over the top
5) Tits, lots of tits
7) A heart-wrenching scene where Maki finds her gang turned into pathetic opium whores
8) Did I mention Sonny Chiba?
Watching this with my girl after spending far too many hours of my life watching horrific Japanese TV shows, I can’t help but wonder where this cool Japan went. Sure, it borrows a bit blatantly from various things (Enter the Dragon for one), but without it, we wouldn’t be watching Quentin Tarantino flicks like ‘Kill Bill’ today. I absolutely love it and wish movies with this epic amount of cool just oozing out of them were still being made.
After it was all said and done and the credits rolled, i was a 12-year-old kid again, read to jump around the room play fighting. Even my girl, normally put off by today’s modern violence in movies, surprisingly enjoyed the overdone, silly and fun nature of it all (I like to think she enjoyed the boobs too…maybe).
I went off to google and imdb and found so little on this movie that it depressed me. It lays such a good foundation for Tarantino, I have to wonder if it’s one of the flicks he’d caught in his video store days. If he didn’t, he needs to.
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find an unedited copy of the movie out there anywhere with English subtitles, and as far as I can see, it’s never been released outside of Japan with them.
Whereas some of Sue Shihomi’s Sonny Chiba era flicks have been released to DVD stateside, such as the “Sister Streetfighter Series“ and “Dragon Princess‘ have seen releases stateside (or anywhere in the world for that matter), Maki’s 13 Steps sits on a shelf somewhere, just gathering dust and occasionally been shown on far flung Japanese cable TV stations.
It’s a sad, sad shame
If you just can’t wait to check out this gem of 70s era Japanese sexploitation and violence and either a) don’t care about understanding half of what’s going on or b) speak fluent Japanese, here are some links below that I dug up where you can get a copy burnt to DVD and sent to you:
At flkcinema (Looks to be about $20-$25)
At Rare Kung-Fu Movies (About $20)
Unfortunately, the condition isn’t all that impressive, about on par with the above youtube clip (not the fault of these guys, more the fault of letting the movie rot on a shelf somewhere).
I’d like to get a little grassroots campaign going to get this movie published on Dvd with some subtitles so that everyone can get a chance to see this awesome flick.
If you’re interested, sign the comments below or hit me up on twitter at @craigscanlan
And spread the word to any folks out there who dig great 70s era kung-fu films…
Perhaps we can gather enough steam, although it looks like an uphill battle since the major publisher of these movies BCI Eclipse was recently folded. If anyone knows any other distribution venues for this kind of flick that we can annoy, I’m all ears.
I hope that someday we can all enjoy a silly, late Saturday night movie marathon with this flick like I did…