You’ve got to hand it to cult director Koji Wakamatsu, the guy knew how to name a film. Alongside Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, “Go Go Second-Time Virgin” is probably among the more interestingly titled films I’ve seen in some time. Oddly enough though, the gonzo title actually fits this dark and disturbing and visually provocative film like a glove. What’s more, it even almost prepares you for the 60+ minutes of sadomasochism, multiple rapes, one delirious orgy, some poetic dialogue on suicide, and the mass-murder that follows it. Almost, but not quite. “Go Go” was shot in only four days on a shoestring budget (!) and yet is a remarkably coherent and polished film. It’s no masterwork, but it does reveal (at least to this critic) a fascinating filmmaker all but unheard of in the U.S.
Though conceived in the tradition of Japanese pink films, “Go Go” in fact, shares more in common with the French New Wave than it does with kinky soft porn. Its minimalist plot concerns the bizarro relationship of two deeply disturbed teens, Poppo (Mimi Kozakura) and Tsukio (Michio Akiyama), who spend much of film existential posturing. Early on, Poppo is brutally gang-raped by four teens on the roof of a seven-floor Tokyo apartment building while Tsukio passively looks on. The next morning, the two hapless teens come together and discover common threads of self-loathing, fixation with death, and past experiences of sexual abuse and domestic violence. (We learn that the opening rape sequence was actually the second time Poppo was violated in her life, and hence the film’s title. Her first time, involving two men on a beach, is recounted in a bluish-hued dream sequence, Wakamatsu’s first use of color in this otherwise black and white film. Wakamatsu’s shocking (and unforgettable) second use of color occurs in Tsukio’s harrowing flashback sequence, where he may or may not have savagely butchered two men and two women after they forced him into their grotesque orgy involving some heavy petting and a golden shower.) When the group of rapists returns that night accompanied by some new girls, Tsukio locks the door, trapping the lot of them on the roof. Soon these monsters are it again, but this time, Tsukio’s not so passive. Throughout the ensuing melee, Tsukio and Poppo playfully beg the other to “please kill me, please kill me.” Please kill me, indeed!
Available for the first time in the states (on DVD from Image Entertainment), “Go Go” is clearly a film that will enthrall some with its ultra-stylized perversions while horrifying nearly everyone else. Personally, I fall into the former camp, but wouldn’t exactly recommend this one to… well, most of the people I know. If grandiose claims of artistic merit make you cringe, I apologize, but I nonetheless deem “Go Go” a serious and profound work of filmic art. True, Wakamatsu at times treads a fine line between cinematic poetry and truly vile exploitation, sometimes leaving this viewer with a rather unwholesome feeling about the whole ordeal. (And I loved “Irreversible”!) But the level of artistry in this oh so gloomy tale is just so superb I cannot help taking the plunge. From the experimental, jazzy score by Meikyu Sekai to the shocking use of color in a predominantly black and white film, “Go Go” is a director’s film all the way. Wakamatsu gets away with his graphic images of sex and violence because they are staged in ways that resonate emotionally for both the characters and the audience. Wakamatsu deserves snaps too for his subversive commentary on the misogynist leanings of traditional pink films. The main male character is impotent with the woman he lusts after and in one startling scene, Poppo, the pathetic, passive victim of multiple rapes, breaks the third wall, in a sense, by defiantly proclaiming, “I am not a woman. I’m not sad, not sad at all. I don’t cry. I’m never sad… F@$K YOU… F@$K YOU!” Watching this scene in particular, you get the sense that these two lonely souls aren’t so much after revenge against the rapists, but against life itself. And from where they’re sitting, you can hardly blame them.
I cannot help but draw at least some superficial parallels between this film and the best-film-by-a-Coppola-in-20-years, Lost In Translation, which I happened to see just the previous day. Call it a stretch, but both films feature a union of two lost souls who are emotionally and physically stranded in Tokyo. The two “couples” discover they share a common “language” between them and only them, though they never quite consummate their bond. In the end, their respective relationships have allowed them to grow and discover (or rediscover?) something they lost along the way and perhaps even find some sense of peace, albeit in radically different ways. Give me Coppola’s masterpiece any day, but I won’t soon be forgetting the experience of watching “Go Go Second-Time Virgin”. And I definitely won’t be forgetting that title.
Disagree with this review? Think you can write a better one? Go right ahead in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>