Momoe’s Lips (1979) – By Duane L. Martin

Miki Yoko is an up and coming singer, and Toru, a down and out tabloid reporter has taken an interest in her, believing that if he could break a big story on her, it would improve his fortunes.  The story?  Mr. Hoshino, the record executive who controls Miki is rumored to be giving her drugs to keep her under the control of him and his company.  Toru makes it his business to find out if the story of her being drugged is true, and ends up getting involved in far more than he’d bargained for.

Momoe’s Lips is the latest Nikkatsu film release from Synapse Films’ Impulse label.  I’ve reviewed all twenty-three of these releases, and all along the way they’ve been a mixed bag.  Now, what do I mean by that?  Well, some have been light hearted and fun, while many have been serious and even somewhat disturbing.  I’ve always enjoyed the ones that are light hearted and fun, while the disturbing ones seem to go so far out of their way to be shocking at times that it makes the films unappealing.

This film falls a bit in the middle of the spectrum.  Toru getting beat up by Hoshino’s thugs, and one thug in particular who’s more Terminator than man the way he fights add an element of fun to the film, while the kidnapping, rape and drugging of Miki bring out the darker side of the story.

I’ve described the sex in many of these films as being similar to watching a couple of agitated twelve-year olds doing it for the first time.  This one’s no exception in most cases.  This film also contains the usual Japanese rape thing, which consists of the following…

1. Guy assaults girl.
2. Girl fights and struggles, pretending she doesn’t really want it.
3. Guy inserts something into the girl, usually his finger or penis.
4. Girl lets out a sigh or a moan and then suddenly she’s all into it, though sometimes she still struggles slightly.
5. Girl stays silent about it afterward, never telling the police or anyone else what happened.

This is such a constant scenario in Japanese films that it’s actually become kind of a joke.  I’m pretty sure the whole rape fantasy in Japanese films comes from the sexually repressive nature of their culture, but it would be nice to see them break the formula once in a while.

The acting in this one wasn’t bad, but it was nothing special either.  This wasn’t really the fault of the actors so much as it was the script and the style of film they were stuck in.  The occasional fight scenes were fairly entertaining, and the sex, as noted above, was rather typical of these types of films.  They’re the kind of sex scenes you can fast forward through without really missing much (i.e. You’ve seen one, and you’ve seen them all.)

For special features, this release includes newly translated English subtitles, the original theatrical trailer, liner notes from Japanese film scholar Jasper Sharp and reversible cover art, although it must be noted that on the copy I received, the cover art was exactly the same on both sides.  I’m not sure if this was an error or an oversight or what, but they’re identical.

These films have a specific target audience who will appreciate them.  Going by what I think this target audience would like, I could recommend this film, but only mildly.  It really brings nothing new or special to the table, and the only really shocking thing comes at the end when you find out where the record exec’s been injecting her with the drugs.  No, it’s not where you think.  If you’ve been collecting these releases all along, then you’ll want to pick this one up as well.  If you’re just getting started with Nikkatsu films, then there are more entertaining ones you could start with.  All in all, for me, it was just slightly above average, and that was only because of the reporter and his performance.

If you’d like to find out more about this release, you can check out its page on the Synapse Films website here: http://synapse-films.com/dvds/momoes-lips-dvd