films seen
33/108
average score
2.66*
nationality
Japan - 76 years old
status
R.I.P. (1936 - 2012)
more info

Prolific madman director who made low-budget erotic cinema his own, hijacking it as a playground for experimentation and injecting it with strong political ideals. One of the greatest classical directors out there, with an oeuvre spanning half a century.

The good stuff

Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy Saw

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
17-Sai no Fukei - Shonen wa Nani o Mita
Specifics
Japan [2004] - 89m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Cycling Chronicles: Landscapes the Boy Saw poster

A film that slows you down for the course of its running time and leaves you with something to think about while looking at impressive imagery and striking you with an impressive soundtrack

Go, Go Second Time Virgin

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Yuke Yuke Nidome no Shojo
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 65m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Go, Go Second Time Virgin poster

Solid pieces

Petrel Hotel Blue

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Kaien Hoteru · Burû
Specifics
Japan [2012] - 84m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Petrel Hotel Blue poster

2012 was going to be a great year for Koji Wakamatsu. With three films released and already a fourth one on the way, he was on a roll. At the age of 76, that's quite a feat. Sadly it wasn't meant to be. On a walk home from a budget meeting Wakamatsu was hit by a cab and he would pass away soon after. A surprisingly tepid ending for an explosive director.

Kaien Hoteru - Buru (Petrel Hotel Blue) is one of the three films Wakamatsu managed to finish in 2012. It's a peculiar film, experimental but featuring an elaborate narrative and remarkably free from political propaganda. It would make a good companion piece to Landscapes the Boy Saw, though both films are still quite different from each other.

Kaien Hoteru - Buru starts off with a robbery gone wrong. When Yukio's friend Yoji doesn't show up to provide backup, Yukio is caught and is sentenced to a 7 year stay in prison. Upon his release, Yukio vows to take revenge on Yoji. He finds out his location and ends up on a small, barren island where Yoji is running a bar/hotel.

That's when things get strange. Even though there's a whole crime story slowly unravelling, the film is more interested in Rika's character, Yoji's wife. She doesn't really speak, she disappears into thin air from time to time and she transfixes every man she meets. She's the catalyst of just about everything that happens, but her exact role is never truly explained.

The film is obviously a low-budget affair, but the location is terrific and the camera does a great job capturing its alien atmosphere. The soundtrack too adds a very mysterious feel, making everything that much weirder. The only real downer is the cast. Go Jibiki (a late-Wakamatsu regular) is solid, but the rest of the actors fail to find the right vibe.

Still, Kaien Hoteru - Buru is worth a gamble, especially if you're already familiar with Wakamatsu's oeuvre. It's a moody, atmospheric and mysterious film, not the kind of thing you'd expect a 76 year old to make. It might have been easier to accept Wakamatsu's passing if he'd been making crap movies, on the other hand, at least he got productive again right before passing away.

Caterpillar

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Kyatapirâ
Specifics
Japan [2010] - 85m
Genre
Drama, War
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Caterpillar poster

Ecstasy of the Angels

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Tenshi no Kôkotsu
Specifics
Japan [1972] - 89m
Genre
Drama, Action, Mystery
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Ecstasy of the Angels poster

The Woman Who Wanted to Die

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Segura Magura: Shinitai Onna
Specifics
Japan [1970] - 72m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Woman Who Wanted to Die poster

Running in Madness, Dying in Love

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Kyôsô Jôshi-kô
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 77m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Running in Madness, Dying in Love poster

Violent Virgin

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Gewalt! Gewalt: Shojo Geba-Geba
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 66m
Genre
Horror, Crime
More info on
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Violent Virgin poster

One of Wakamatsu's better films. 1969 was a good year for him. Not only did he direct a ton of films, many of them ending up becoming stand-outs in his oeuvre. Violent Virgin contains all the typical Wakamatsu traits and combines them into a surreal trip that bewilders, disgusts and intrigues in equal amounts.

Like many of his films, Violent Virgin is not an easy watch. It's a sort of prelude to the American rape/revenge films of the 70s (think I Spit On Your Grave or The Last House on the Left) that would give the horror genre a serious boost, only Wakamatsu's films are more skillfully and artfully executed.

Lush, high contrast black and white cinematography, perverse games, amoral behavior, rape, murder, it's all here. There isn't much in the way of plot, then again it's a pretty short film so there's really no time for it to get boring. Probably not the easiest introduction to Wakamatsu's work, but definitely one of the better films I've seen from him.

The inoffensive

The Millennial Rapture

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Sennen no Yuraku
Specifics
Japan [2012] - 118m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Millennial Rapture poster

Wakamatsu didn't really go out with a bang, but this is a worthwhile final feature that at the very least shows he still had a couple of films left in him. An interesting family chronicle with a stellar performance by Shinobu Terajima. The film looks a bit too cheap and digital, it also lacks Wakamatsu's trademark grit, but otherwise it's a fine drama.

Sacred Mother Kannon

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Seibo Kannon Daibosatsu
Specifics
Japan [1977] - 90m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Sacred Mother Kannon poster

Interesting Wakamatsu. Not as overtly political as his most of his work, instead it features a clear yet slightly repetitive narrative that holds up well enough. The characters are blunt and enigmatic, the film looks nice and the pacing is on point.

Shinjuku Mad

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Shinjuku Maddo
Specifics
Japan [1970] - 65m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Shinjuku Mad poster

Violence without a Cause

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Gendai Sei Hanzai Zekkyô Hen: Riyû Naki Bôkô
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 71m
Genre
Action, Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Violence without a Cause poster

Sexual Play

by Masao Adachi, Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Seiyûgi
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 71m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Sexual Play poster

Naked Bullet

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Yawa Hada Mushuku: Otoko Goroshi Onna Goroshi
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 72m
Genre
Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Naked Bullet poster

The number of films Wakamatsu made during the 60s feels endless. Though his style is quite consistent, the quality of these films is a bit hit-and-miss, depending on their level of experimentation, political focus and no doubt the mood of the day. In '69 alone Wakamatsu made 13 films, so having an off-day probably wasn't even an option for him.

Compared to his other films, Naked Bullet is a rather straightforward genre flick. While you get your fair share of vintage Wakamatsu (i.e. rape, crime elements and alternating sequences shot in black and white vs color), the overall tone of the film is a lot lighter, mostly playing like a funky, sometimes even comedic gangster film.

It's a somewhat surprising departure from most other Wakamatsu films I've seen so far, but when you're making so many films each year it's really no surprise you eventually end up trying something different. Wakamatsu handles himself pretty well too, the film looks stylish, sports some memorable scenes and offers some good genre fun.

Violated Angels

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Okasareta Hakui
Specifics
Japan [1967] - 56m
Genre
Drama, Thriller
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Violated Angels poster

The Orgy

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Ranko
Specifics
Japan [1967] - 67m
Genre
Crime
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
The Orgy poster

Fine Wakamatsu. Less political and psychologic than some of his more famous ones, though his usual trademark elements are still present in some way or another. Fun, short and intriguing hitman film, nice shots and a decent score make for a film that is quite unlike other films from the 60s.

Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Zoku Nihon Bôkô Ankokushi: Bôgyakuma
Specifics
Japan [1967] - 73m
Genre
Drama, Horror
More info on
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist poster

If there ever was a descriptive title for a film, it must've been Dark Story of a Japanese Rapist. You get exactly what the title promises, and with Koji Wakamatsu behind the camera you can rest assured it isn't just straight-forward horror or simple titillation. This was quite the effective drama.

The main character of this film may be a rapist, he's also an extremely tragic figure. That's not going to be a very popular take/angle, but there's definitely some merit in telling the story this way. While his victims remain empty shells for the most part, Wakamatsu takes his time to paint a strong picture of the perpetrator.

No colors this time around, apart from a handful of monochrome shots. The stark black and white cinematography is fitting though and weighs on the film. The soundtrack is fine too, the runtime perfect and the finale very fitting. A good film from Wakamatsu, but make sure you come prepared.

Worthy but flawed

United Red Army

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Jitsuroku Rengô Sekigun: Asama Sansô e no Michi
Specifics
Japan [2007] - 190m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
United Red Army poster

Endless Waltz

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Endoresu Warutsu
Specifics
Japan [1995] - 102m
Genre
Drama, Romance, Biography, Music
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Endless Waltz poster

Secret Flower

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Hika
Specifics
Japan [1971] - 70m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Secret Flower poster

Sex Jack

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Seizoku
Specifics
Japan [1970] - 70m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Sex Jack poster

If you're familiar with Wakamatsu's 60s and early 70s work, this film will hold no surprises for you. A clan of young revolutionaries couped up in a small room, doing their best to revolt against the establishment. There are a few nice scenes, but it feels a little too familiar and indistinct compared to his better work.

Season of Terror

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Gendai Kôshoku-den: Teroru no Kisetsu
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 78m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Season of Terror poster

Typical late-60s Wakamatsu. Shot in black and white, a background of political revolution and free love. Wakamatsu made a gazillion of these films around that time. This one is very thin on plot though and 80 minutes is a tad long, but Wakamatsu fans probably won't be disappointed. Not his best, but still worth watching.

The Embryo Hunts in Secret

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Taiji ga Mitsuryosuru Toki
Specifics
Japan [1966] - 72m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
2.5*/5.0*
The Embryo Hunts in Secret poster

An early Wakamatsu, which is exactly what you can expect. He's clearly still developing his style here, the plot is extremely thin though thematically Wakamatsu draws a lot from it. Short, experimental and pretty edgy, at least for its time. Not as good as his late 60s work, but still worth a shot.

Dubious filler

11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
11·25 Jiketsu no Hi: Mishima Yukio to Wakamono-tachi
Specifics
Japan [2012] - 119m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
11.25: The Day He Chose His Own Fate poster

Serial Rapist

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Jûsan-nin Renzoku Bôkôma
Specifics
Japan [1978] - 60m
Genre
Horror
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Serial Rapist poster

Wakamatsu has a reputation for making divisive and unflinching films, but this one offers a whole new level of nihilism. The title says it all really, the film follows a serial rapist on his murderous rampage. He wanders around, talks to random women, isolates them, rapes them and kills them.

And that's pretty much it. Little to no context is given to explain his actions, his victims remain completely unknown to the audience, all we get to see is the continuous torture, shot in a very detached and matter-of-fact way. It's not a very pleasant film to watch, neither is it very titillating, but if you like dark and relentless films, is it quite impressive.

The presentation is pretty cheap though. Wakamatsu's camera merely registers, there's little in the way of a soundtrack and the actors aren't exactly A-grade material either. It's clearly a film made on the cheap, but it does get its message across. An interesting watch for Wakamatsu fans, but it's pretty hard to recommend.

The Hateful Beast

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Nippon Boko Ankokushi: Onju
Specifics
Japan [1970] - 70m
Genre
Crime
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
The Hateful Beast poster

Another entry in Wakamatsu's series on Japanese rapists. It's not the jolliest subject to make films about, but people familiar with Wakamatsu's work know it's a theme that suits him. What doesn't suit him is the classic/historic setting of the story, which takes a lot of vitality away from his films.

The Hateful Beast revolves around two criminals who lived during the Edo era. They both arrive at a same village, but one proves to be more successful than the other. While he enjoys the spoils of his criminal career, the other one rots away in prison, planning his revenge. It's hardly the most imaginative story, though that matters less, as it's rooted in reality.

The black and white cinematography is nice, but not all that remarkable. The editing and camera work feel a little plain and unimaginative though, especially for a Wakamatsu film. The presentation (including the soundtrack) is just too tame and safe. It's in line with other classic Japanese films, but it takes away from Wakamatsu's unique flavor. Not his best work.

Vengeance Demon

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Fukushûki 
Specifics
Japan [1969] - 73m
Genre
Thriller
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Vengeance Demon poster

Abnormal Blood

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Nihon Bôkô Ankokushi: Ijôsha no Chi
Specifics
Japan [1967] - 75m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Abnormal Blood poster

This wasn't Wakamatsu's best. The subject (an exploration of the lineage of a serial rapist) is right up Wakamatsu's alley, but Abnormal Blood goes for a somewhat dramatic and narrative approach. Personally I prefer it when he takes a more experimental route, because that's where Wakamatsu's real strength lies.

Abnormal Blood is part of a trilogy, of which I haven't seen the other parts. Maybe things feel more like a whole after seeing the remaining entries, but as a stand-alone film it felt a bit aimless and disjointed. It's also quite short considering the scope of the undertaking, at just 75 minutes.

The usual switches between color and black and white are nice enough, Wakamatsu's camera work is interesting and even though it's a more narrative -focused film, the film still feels relatively vibrant and emotional. The ending is pretty cool, but not enough to redeem the entire film. This one is for Wakamatsu completists.

Secrets behind the Wall

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Kabe no Naka no Himegoto
Specifics
Japan [1965] - 90m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
2.0*/5.0*
Secrets behind the Wall poster

Plain forgettable

Perfect Education 6

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Kanzen Naru Shiiku: Akai Satsui
Specifics
Japan [2004] - 99m
Genre
Drama
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Perfect Education 6 poster

Erotic Relations

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Erotikkuna Kankei
Specifics
Japan [1992] - 95m
Genre
Drama, Mystery, Crime
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Erotic Relations poster

A Pool without Water

by Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Mizu no nai Puuru
Specifics
Japan [1982] - 103m
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info on
rating
1.5*/5.0*
A Pool without Water poster

Irritation overload

Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War

by Masao Adachi, Koji Wakamatsu
Also known as
Sekigun-P.F.L.P: Sekai Sensô Sengen
Specifics
Japan [1971] - 69m
Genre
Documentary
More info on
rating
0.5*/5.0*
Red Army/PFLP: Declaration of World War poster