Shogun's Joy of Torture not for Weak Hearts

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Shogun's Joy of Torture

Arrow Films brings to Blu-ray the horror anthology film Shogun's Joy of Torture by cult film director Teruo Ishii. Made in 1968 at the height of the Japanese "pinkie" films -- the equivalant of America's Grindhouse 42nd Street sleeze and exploitation films of the time. It was a stylized and shocking movie that Toei Films banked on bringing audiences away from their televison sets and back into the theaters to see the imagery that was "too hot" to be shown on any televison at the time (or today for that matter).

Some may summarize this as an historical violent portrayal of crime and punishment from the time period in which it was set. Others may say it is pure torture-porn trash cinema in the vein of directors such as Jess Franco who just throw sex and violence in your face for no reason other then shock value.

The film is comprised of three different segments, loosely intertwined around a "Shogun" or "judge" reading thru this crime logs and telling the viewer his stories of the horrors he had witnessed. 
The first segment is about a young man who was injured while working in the fields, and how his sister is forced to give herself to her brother's boss in order to help pay for his doctor bills. The relationship between the brother and sister quickly turns incestuous, and when the man's boss finds out he threatens to turn them in if he is not allowed to take her again by force in front her brother. Ashamed, her brother later takes his own life, and the sister brutally attacks their boss in the streets, where she is arrested and subsequnetly tortured for her crimes.

The second segment is about the arrival of a mother superior and her novitiate nun at a remote monastery. The monastery is located near a temple inhabited by priests, one of whom takes a fancy to the younger nun and has a torrid affair with her. The mother superior finds out about this relationship and tortures the young nun and kills the priest in her hatred/love for them both. The authorities discover the acts of torture the nuns are commiting at the monastery -- and publicly torture and kill the nuns.

The final segment is about a tattoo artist who strives to be the best artist in the country. While showing off his work to a group of people, a lord mocks his art, claiming his imagination cannot capture the beauty of agony without witnessing it first-hand. Desperate to be the best, the tattoo artist begs the lord to let him witness the acts of torture the lord dishes out to the criminals locked away under his control. The artist finishes his work after seeing the brutal acts, then kills the lord in order to put the final touch to his life's masterpiece.

As always ARROW VIDEO leads the pack in home video distribution today with their SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS.

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes
  • Teruo Ishii: Erotic-Grotesque Maestro – an exclusively newly filmed interview with the author Patrick Macias
  • Bind, Torture, Thrill – author and critic Jasper Sharp discusses the history of torture in Japanese exploitation cinema
  • Original trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips

This film is not for the weak of heart or anyone who wants to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon showing. At the title sequence, you know what you are in for right off the bat with a beheading, a drawn-and-quartering, and a woman being burned alive -- and thats just in the first three minutes!

The film makes you feel uncomfortable watching the heinous crimes being portrayed, then makes you feel even more so when you witness the punishment that is given for those crimes.  It is beautifully shot and the cinematography is top notch for such bottom of the barrel sleaze and gore.

2.5 / 5.0