Sailor Suit and Machine Gun: Special Edition
(Hiroko Yakushimaru, Tsunehiko Watase, Rentarô Mikuni, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (1981) 2021 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)
Overview: A perky high-schooler takes on the mob in Sailor Suit and Machine Gun, a one-of-a-kind genre-bender that riffs on the yakuza film, coming-of-age drama and ‘idol movie’, inventively adapted from Jiro Akagawa’s popular novel by director Shinji Somai (Typhoon Club, Wait and See), a massively influential figure in Japanese cinema whose work has been little seen outside his homeland.
Hoshi Izumi is a young innocent forced to grow up quickly when her father dies and she finds herself next in line as the boss of a moribund yakuza clan.
Wrenched from the security of her classroom and thrust into the heart of the criminal underworld, she must come to terms with the fact that her actions hold the key to the life or death of the men under her command as they come under fire from rival gangs.
Presented in both its Original Theatrical and longer Complete versions, and the first time one of Somai’s films has been released on home video in the West, this landmark work from his early career was responsible for launching teen talent Hiroko Yakushimaru (Legend of the Eight Samurai; Detective Story) as the iconic face of a generation, with the catchy theme song she performs indelibly etched into the zeitgeist of early-1980s Japan.
Blu-ray Verdict: Based on a novel by Jiro Akagawa that was published by Kadokawa publishing company, ‘Sera fuku to kikanjyu’ (Sailor Uniform and Machine Gun) was also Kadokawa’s (and then president Haruki Kadokawa’s) first attempt at movie targeted for teens and young adults featuring a teenager in the starring role.
Izumi Hoshi (Hiroko Yakushimaru) is a normal high school student, until one day a horde of yazuka shows up at the gate of her school. Unbeknownst to her, her father was the head of a ‘Medaka Gumi’ yakuza clan.
When one of her soldiers gets killed, Izumi reluctantly takes charge and starts to lead her troops to face the opposing yakuza clan - the only problem is Madaka Gumi only has four yakuza soldiers where the other clans have many more.
Hiroko Yakushimaru shows her brilliant intelligence to lead the group of adults much older than her. The story seem to lack focus as different characters comes and goes, but the real focus is where’s the heroin, and who hid it? Everyone is running after the heroin and much killing goes on to find it.
This all sounds serious, but it’s all done in light hearted fashion (just how a killing can be light, you have to see this film) to appeal to the target audiences.
Towards the end, Izumi while wearing her sailor suit school uniform takes a machine gun and goes into Futoccho’s (Rentaro Mikuni) office to settle the score and fires the machine gun in his office, exclaiming ‘Kaikan’ (feel’s good) which was also one of the defining moments in Japanese cinema at the time.
In closing, Hiroko Yakushimaru went on to become a successful movie and TV actor and is still active today. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of the Original Theatrical Version and the 1982 Complete Version (kanpeki-ban) re-issue of the film, restored by Kadokawa Pictures from a 4K scan of the original negative
Original uncompressed Japanese mono and 5.1 audio
Optional English subtitles
Girls, Guns and Gangsters: Shinji Somai & Sailor Suit & Machine Gun, an exclusive new 50-minute documentary featuring actor Akira Emoto, film scholar Chika Kinoshita, Somai biographer Tatsuya Kimura and Sailor Suit assistant director Koji Enokido discussing the making of the film, its director and its legacy.
Original Trailers and TV spots for both versions
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Michael Lomon