Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Operation Pussycat (2004)

AKA Pussycat Great Mission!
Directed by Ryuchi Honda
Starring Nao Eguchi, Hisao Kanno, Kei Mizutani
Rated R

"Your brain is way down there."

At a breezy 42 minutes, Operation Pussycat is the slightest of the mid 00's Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill! tributes (see also Pervert! and Faster Pussycat, Fuck Fuck!), but it's also the most faithful adaptation. Faster Pussycat's basic premise - three hot chicks on a murder spree meet crazy old fucker - is very much the core of this film as well, only it's embellished with that familiar Japanese preoccupation, honor.

After the awesome go-go punk theme song - reprised in full for the Karaoke-ready end credits - we meet Kotori, a doe-eyed teenager in white hotpants and a scuba mask, who picks at shells on the beach and sings a terrible song. It's her job, shell picking, and she works for a terrible master, the meanest and richest man in town. While she toils away, the local cop comes by to see what's up.

While he's rapping to her, a car roars by on the highway, so he takes off to investigate. He pulls over a trio of girls in a pick-up truck, one of which, Harry (Kei Mizutani), is wearing a leather jumpsuit. Another one, busty Mary, is dressed in hot pants. A third - they never actually mention her name - wears paisley pants. So that's what we'll call her. When the cop asks Mary for some ID, she gives him a man's driver's license. And then she tells him she's a dancer.

"A really hot one," Harry points out.
To prove her point, Mary go-go dances for the officer. He digs it. Mary suggests that they, you know, take a walk somewhere, and he agrees, but then notices something suspicious in the truckbed. He lifts a tarp to find a man's bloodied body.

The girls leap into action and karate chop the cop. They kill him, and as his lifeblood ebbs away on the road, Kotori zooms by, oblivious to the slaughter of her would-be paramour.

The girls are convinced that she saw them, though, and they make chase.

They quickly lose her, and pull into a gas station, where they prod the boozy manager about the girl in the pick-up. The motormouth gas-pumper quickly spills the beans. 15 year old Kotori is a virtual slave to the monied old coot up the road. Seems she was working down by the beach one day when she almost drowned in the water. Mr. Moneybags saved her, and later on, a shark chomped off one of his legs, leaving him immobile. Feeling pangs of guilt, Kotori agreed to become his live-in slave.

So, that's what's up. Our trio of sexy killers decide to drive to the house and cause a ruckus. First they squabble for awhile, though. There appears to be sexual tension between Mary and Harry, while Paisley Pants is the Kirk Hammet of the group, trying in vain to keep the peace. While Harry tromps off to investigate, Mary and Paisley Pants square off over who wants to fuck Harry. A catfight with 60s go-go beat accompaniment ensues. At one point, Mary growls, "You are gloomy!"

Harry peeps in on the happenings inside Mr Supposed-to-be-rich's house. Muscle-bound man-servant Kashituka washes his feet while Kotori sheepishly hands him her haul of shells. He is not happy with what he sees.
"Women never work hard!" He yells. Then he beans Kotori in the head with one of them.
"Women are just like these sea shells," he grumbles. "Only cares how they look. Nothing inside."
What a dick.
He sends Kotori and Kashituka back to the beach to fetch 100 shells, so he can have a Seashell Party. Harry decides to follow them, ordering Mary to seduce the big guy to find out where the money is hidden. What money, you ask? Harry's heard rumors that the old bastard has a ton of cash stashed in the house somewhere, and she's determined to find it.

Kashituka, being a dude, chases after Mary. They share some slobbery kisses in a field, but Mary quickly realizes that the big oaf is mute, and therefore useless, since he can't tell her where the money is. If there is, indeed, any money. So she kicks him in the nuts and splits, adding insult to injury as she storms off: "In Your dreams, you jerk!"

When Mary comes back empty handed and tells Harry she wants out of her sordid murder club, Harry freaks out and strangles her to death. Kotori sees the whole thing and tears ass out of there. The girls chase her in their pick-up, but Kashituka shows up in the nick of time to save her.

When they get back to the house, Kotori is horrified to find the murderous women in her frontyard, topless, taking a bath with metal buckets. Kotori squeals in terror, but the girls tell her to relax. They weren't murdering that chick, they were just, you know, wrestling.
"Wow," says the naïve Kotori, "You really got me. I got scared for nothing."

The old man invites the topless she-devils to stay for his seashell party. They accept the invitation. They have dinner together and gramps yaps about how Kitoro's mom was his mistress, and tried to split with the money in his bank account. Naturally, he was too smart to trust the bank with his dough, and she was left with nothing. She took off, leaving baby Kitoro there, and now, 15 years later, this creep is feeling up her leg during dinner and telling the murder-gang about how useless she is. It's a very untenable situation, really.

Harry says that she wants to leave, and asks Kashituka to show her and Paisley Pants out. When they get outside, Mary mashes lips with Kashi and leaves Paisley Pants waiting around the corner. She takes him down to the cellar and rolls around the floor with him until he tells her - by writing on the wall - that the money is taped to the bottom of the dinner table. And indeed, it is.

Just then, Kitoro bursts out of the house, hysterical. She runs down to the beach, and in between bursts of tears, she tells the girls that gramps tried to fuck her with one of the shells. She's a little more delicate with her words, but that's the gist of it. Gramps, at this point, is furiously rolling his wheelchair down the beach. Kashi charges at him, but Gramps whips out a sickle on a chain and jams it into his neck. Harry is pretty much done with this nonsense, and clomps over to Gramps, intending to snap his neck. However, Paisley Pants takes this opportunity to pull out a handgun and threaten to kill Harry and then herself. She's got problems, clearly. Harry demands that she hand over the gun, but instead she closes her eyes, and pulls the trigger.

And then a bunch of people die. Not necessarily the ones you think, either. It's a very downbeat ending. Luckily, the theme song kicks in a again, and everybody's happy. C'mon, sing along!!

"No need for a knife.
Got Those tits for a fight.
That cute little pussy.
It's a knockout.
Operation Pussycat!

Shake my Heart Baby,
Wild animal of the night
Filthy little pussy.
It's a knockout.
Operation pussycat!"

Directed by 60's pop culture guru Ryuchi Honda (Wonderland, 2008), Operation moves along with garage-punk vroom. It's a lot more threadbare than the usual Japanese import, and Honda's use of washed-out color is odd, given his propensity for eye-popping visuals, but still, it's a fun little movie.

Kei Mizutani - best known for the awesome Weather Woman series - chews scenery with relish as the leather pant-suited Harry, and although her proportions aren't close to Tura Satana's towering curves, she's at least as mean as Faster Pussycat's Varla. Fans of the original will get a kick out of this low-budget remake, and even if you've never seen the source material, you really can't go wrong with go-go dancers on the warpath, can you?

- Ken McIntyre

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