Innocent people are suffering under the torture of Judge Murayama during WWII. A young woman is thought to be helping a group of people that are trying to go up against the government, so she and an actor are captured and used for torture and bondage.
Now when I sit down to watch a Nikkatsu title, I can't help but sort the movie into a category. It seems to me that there are some rather specific slots to throw the Nikkatsu titles in, and so far I have found three: the pointless all-out erotica, the silly and innocent erotic comedy, and finally the much more harsh and perverse films. There's not much entertainment in the first category at all, while the second one can offer some laughs and just a light and easy watch. But it's the third category that usually stands out and are the ones usually closest to a good movie. Yes, it is still hard to call some of them good movies! It won't come as a surprise that a Nikkatsu flick with the title "Fairy in a Cage" is of the third category, the dirty and rough kind. Luckily!
This semi-political film (let's face it, it's not exactly multi-layered) is dressed up in all the colors of torture and S&M. It's World War II and Judge Murayama captures people who he feels have done wrong. When a young girl, Namiji, is suspected of helping out in anti-government activities she is quickly captured and brought to Judge Murayama, where she will be kept and tortured. She and a kabuki actor have to withstand torture and hope that they can someone get away. Things are not looking bright until a new military recruit arrives and it he finds himself interested in Namiji.
Controversial with its use of government and torture, and it is actually being quite rough at times, it's easy to see why the cover "hails" it as one of the most controversial Nikkatsu titles. It doesn't offer quite as much of an intriguing plot as I had hoped, but once it does have anything to show it's actually solid. The ending especially manages to hook you in beyond just watching the torture. The fact that the ending is extremely bleak just clarifies my idea of the categories: when a movie is rough, they go all out. No joy or happy endings!
"Fairy in a Cage" stands out to some Nikkatsu films for being quite aesthetically interesting. I really liked the look of the movie and many of the camera setups are great. It feels a lot less cheap and helps you forget that you are watching something that is heavily leaning towards being erotica.
Considering all of the above, I can recommend "Fairy in the Cage" and know that my readers will be getting something above watchable. It might be a good title to start with if you are unfamiliar with Nikkatsu films as it has enough erotica as it is rough, and still manages to pull out a few surprises. It has everything that the very eye-catching front cover of this Impulse Pictures release offers - ropes and bondage, perverse soldiers, a sense of style and some wet splotches of intrigue.