Cast: Meiko Kaji, Junzaburo Ban, Sonny Chiba, Tamayo Misukawa, Shingo Yamashiro, Yukie Kagawa
If you look back to when the review for Wandering Ginza Butterfly was posted here at Blood Brothers, you’ll see that it happened well over a year prior to the posting of this review. If you read that review, you’ll also see that the film was a disappointment for me in its scattered approach and uneven genre bending that it attempted to do which, while putting two and two together, are inherently connected. This gap waiting to watch the second film of the series, Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2: She Cat Gambler, is essentially intentional as there needed to be time to cleanse the palate before digging in. However, this may have been a mistake. She Cat Gambler not only partners the iconic Meiko Kaji with Japanese superstar Sonny Chiba for the film, but it’s a more cohesive and impressive film overall. It has impressive star power, a more effective script, and an execution that gets everything to meld into one much more striking cinematic experience.
|Don't cross her, unless you want to get cut!
At times, She Cat Gambler doesn’t even feel like a sequel as much as its own film as it sets about establishing Kaji’s anti-heroine and a slightly revised back story that has her gambling father was murdered before her eyes as a child. This, of course, is relevant because in her travels she finds out that her father’s killer is in town and she needs vengeance. This comes about as she helps a young woman, played as a damsel in distress in decent contrast to Kaji’s cold, sharp, and subtle lead, from being sold into prostitution by her own father. The parallel that the titular she cat gambler is now a guide for another young woman works wonderfully with the script, particularly as the narrative goes on and the plot becomes more morally gray and complicated when yakuza become involved and Sonny Chiba’s stuttering and good hearted businessman befriends our heroine. The film works smoothly though, only stumbling a bit in getting one of Nami’s old friends into the script for an obvious plot device later in the film, and She Cat Gambler takes its story and gradually builds it until it erupts into a shockingly violent third act.
|The prisoner of a sharp camera angle.