Female Market (Ryôjoku mesu ichiba – Kankin) (1986)

Director: Yasuaki Uegaki
Stars: Kaori Asô, Minako Ogawa and Kayo Kiyomoto

The films title really pretty much covers the films content as we see a selection of abducted and terrified young woman being unrelentingly beaten and raped until they submit to their captives orders of being a completely soulless sexual slave. Relentless is the main theme here as we are bombarded with continuous scenes of depraved violence in this very harrowing and shocking tale. The films female lead is introduced to us as part of the latest batch of captives awaiting to be literally whipped into shape, all the women carefully selected from the gangster’s search for lone single females and stalked before abduction.

On arrival, each of the woman are taking away individually by their captors and beaten and raped – this theme continues for much of the film and can be daunting to even the hardest of exploitation film fans as the film has a truly depraved streak with no room for the low budget levity that many similar films have shown in the past. As the torture progresses the women are told that they will receive nice things if the submit to their captors orders and although some agree thinking they will come off with lighter suffering we soon see one of these poor woman having the lead henchman’s whip head thrust up where the sub doesn’t shine. For the others escape is also a consideration but when attempted one unfortunate girl is shot, but that’s not the worst of it for her as her dying corpse is laid on a table for one of the captors forces himself on her yet again, all the time whilst screwing her he’s pushing his fingers into her gaping bullet wound. There is some light at the end of the tunnel for our lead heroine though as one of the guards (a sympathetic junkie) takes a shine to her and helps her attempt to escape the hell hole they are ensconced in. Will they make it to freedom? Or will she be lost in the wilderness of the horrifying slave trade?

‘Female Market’ is both a harrowing and stunning film. Uegaki’s direction is actually at times visually impressive and considering the subject matter and its graphic portrayal he delivers a great piece of work. Whilst the storyline itself is somewhat limited it is the performance of the lead actors Kaori Aso and Minako Ogawa that at times steal the show. For all the depravity that appears onscreen (and there’s stacks of it) you still feel for our poor heroine and will flinch at times as the terror unfolds, consumed by the bleak nature of the harsh images that you see.

I have no doubt that some people will indeed find ‘Female Market’ deeply offensive but if you think that you may then steer well clear of this one. But if you’re either a fan of the genre or a strong stomached movie fan that understand the concept that this is in fact ‘only a movie’ and not real then you’ll find a fascinating but bleak slice of Japanese exploitation cinema.