27 July 2017



'I have a constant desire to write something that is, while elaborate, slightly off balance. Something to make readers feel a rustle in their hearts after reading, instead of feeling content.'
Ryu Murakami- 2005.

Wow. This isn't one for the kiddies and Great-Auntie Maude to settle down to on Christmas afternoon, with a small sherry and the detritus of a dozen selection boxes. I'd been told- warned!- before I watched it that it was super-sexy, I mean, like, really, really sexy. It's true that there's a lot of sexual activity in the film, but I wouldn't call it sexy, exactly.

It's more sleazy, to be honest with you, in an exploitative and even sad kind of way. Sad as in these people are losers. Real, honest-to-God losers. But let's not go off half-cocked, shall we? Anything but that, haha. Let's take a cool, appraising look at the plot instead and see what conclusions we come to. Sound like a plan to you guys? C'mon, let's do this thang...!

The film could also have been entitled 'Memories Of A Prostitute,' if it didn't sound so much maybe like 'Memoirs Of A Geisha.' Ai (the Japanese word for love, ironically) is a college girl-turned-hooker. She certainly doesn't seem nearly street-smart enough, savvy enough or tough enough to be a prostitute.

She's a plain little mouse of a thing, with poor dress sense, a bad haircut and an annoying whisper of a voice, who never seems to take control of anything, especially not her own life. She lives alone in a tiny anonymous apartment and she and her fellow (one of them literally is a man!) hookers operate out of a tiny anonymous office space somewhere in the city.

When the clients ring up looking for girls, they are asked whether they are S or M, sadistic or masochistic? Ai will then toddle along to the client's anonymous hotel room, all equipped with her little red bag of tricks stuffed with hooker outfits and equipment.

She'll be whatever the client desires, although she's rubbish at taking charge and being dominant. The only time we see her attempting a dominant role is when she's taking orders herself from a much more clued-in prostitute, the ravishing Mistress Saki.

I liked Mr. Rich Businessman at the start, Mr. 'Close Down The Singapore Accounts Now!' He's wealthy, good-looking and nicely perverted, although I certainly felt bad for Ai, having to do the particular thing he wanted her to do for hours at a time, until she literally falls down with exhaustion and the emotion of it all, an emotion which frustratingly finds no release.

I thought, after these early scenes, that Ai was going to develop an overwhelming interest in the culture of sado-masochism, just like Maggie Gyllenhaal in SECRETARY with the sexy James Spader, and Anastasia Steele with Christian Grey in his Red Room of Pain in the blockbusting FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, but sadly it wasn't to be.

The naughty film-makers had other ideas. Though I'll never forget the scene in SECRETARY, much more of a comedy than a sexy film about sex and sado-masochism, where poor old Maggie Gyllenhaal tries to spank herself in her own bathroom, in a feeble attempt to recreate the feelings awoken in her by James Spader, a boss with a distinct bit of a difference...

Mr. 'Strangle me till I pass out and you literally think I've died!' is a nightmare, a messed-up mental case with more money than brain cells. Mr. 'I'm going to rape your corpse in the shadow of Mt. Fuji,' he's not so great either, although Ai does get a good dinner out of him, at a decent hotel with their own personal harpist. Nice work if you can get it.

Mr. 'Turtlehead' is a sad case indeed. Let him drink his own pee out of his own fruit bowl, that's what I say. His dominatrix, the aforementioned Mistress Saki, is glamorous and gorgeous but she still has to finish her act by penetrating the creepy 'Turtlehead' with a glossy black dildo, something no woman should ever have to do unless she really, truly wants to. 

I mean to say, honestly now, how could any woman genuinely enjoy doing something so utterly gross? Maybe feminists and penis-enviers and women who want to penetrate men for a change, I suppose, haha. I'll be lambasted now by the feminists for saying that...!

Mistress Saki, obviously a high-class prostitute, is an interesting character. Ai is clearly in awe of her. Mistress Saki takes a limo home to her huge apartment where she eats asparagus and smoked salmon cooked for her by someone else.

Okay, that's great, but she's as lonely-as-hell rattling around her huge empty apartment. Her idea of a good time ('Let's party!') is to sing into a banana-shaped dildo to a bemused Ai and, when that's done, she shoots up heroin like any street junkie and passes out all on her own with the blood running down her arms. That's her miserable little life, right there. That's why it's so hard to take seriously her advice to the floundering Ai:

'Cut through the crap and take charge of your life!'

That's what she says to Ai. Oh, like you've taken charge of your own life, the viewer might say, like you've done such a good job on yourself, Mistress Saki? She has money and it might make her feel temporarily powerful to give a naked businessman a whipping that he'll have a hell of a job explaining to the wife when she sees the marks on him, but is she really happy?

Mistress Saki attempts to explain the phenomenon of masochistic businessmen, salarymen and yakuza by saying that anxiety has made them so. In the super-materialistic age in which they were living (the 'Nineties, the lovely 'Boom' years), too much responsibility, too much power, too much pressure to keep up and too many obligations, both financial and social, made them want to surrender control to a hooker with thigh-high PVC boots and a riding-crop. Meh. It makes as much sense as anything else in this messed-up world...

Ai's one attempt to 'take charge of her life' is an unholy disaster. (FATHER TED: 'You let Dougal do a funeral???') We know it'll be a train wreck before she even does it. The ending, therefore, is sad and surreal and a bit bizarre. Poor Ai, who thinks she has no talent and yet she wants to work with deaf kids, for which she poignantly practises sign language in her odd minutes.

Is Ai going to try to change her rubbish life in any meaningful way? Will she find the balls- excuse the pun- to strike out and go after what she really wants, or will she be stuck being other peoples' sex-toy for the rest of her life? 

If you watch TOKYO DECADENCE, you'll know that that's not nearly as glamorous as it sounds. This naughty film contains sexual threesomes, golden showers and lesbian sex and is not, as we say in the trade, for the faint-hearted...

TOKYO DECADENCE is available to purchase now from ARROW VIDEO.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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