13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats (Makoto Naito, 1975)

KARATE LADY RETURNS!

Amid the success of The Street Fighter and Sister Street Fighter series, Toei Company had found a new star in Etsuko Shihomi and had created its first female martial arts hero, one that was tough, virtuous, and courageous. In 1975, Shihomi found herself in possibly her sleaziest film: 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats, a pinky violence genre mash-up that mixed girl gangs, women in prison, yakuza, and martial arts action into a single sensational movie. As Maki Hyuga, Shihomi is the leader of the Stray Cats girl gang, fighting for justice against evil gangsters and stuck up rich girls. Though her karate skills are unsurpassed, Maki is framed and thrown into a sadistic women’s prison. Will she escape and take her revenge?

Making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats is paired here with Norifumi Suzuki’s The Great Chase, an oddball action flick released the same year and starring Etsuko Shihomi as a race car driver moonlighting as a secret agent. Filled with unceasing action, outlandish situations, and plenty of female resistance to male domination, 13 Steps to Maki and The Great Chase reveal new shades to Etsuko Shihomi’s stardom and stand as spectacular examples of Japanese exploitation in the 1970s.

Special Edition Contents:

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats and The Great Chase
  • Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio on both films
  • Optional newly translated English subtitles on both films
  • New video interviews with actor Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba and director Makoto Naito
  • Theatrical trailers for both films
  • Stills and poster galleries for both films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Kungfubob O’Brien

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Trailer Tuesday

Official and unofficial Criterion announcements having been rolling in since our last “Trailer Tuesday” and fans of the Collection are naturally excited for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979). They’re certainly great movies by celebrated directors, but MMC! will take a moment to praise the teased addition of Albert Brooks’ Lost in America (1985), a film that I saw for the first time a few years ago, introduced by Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald, and that has been fixture on my own proposal list for some time. There are plenty of other great films by Brooks that could bear a wacky “C” and so hopefully we’ll find an opportunity to stump for one of those other titles soon.

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Golden Bat (Hajime Sato, 1966)

WHERE, WHERE, WHERE DOES HE COME FROM, THE GOLDEN BAT?

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddThe strange alien menace Nazo has set the planetoid Icarus on a collision course with the Earth!  Only Doctor Yamatone (Sonny Chiba, The Street Fighter) and his team at the Pearl Research Institute can prevent humanity’s obliteration by destroying Icarus with their Super Destruction Beam Cannon, but they can’t defeat Nazo and his henchmen alone.  Thankfully they have the sworn protection of the Golden Bat, a skull-faced superhero awoken from a 10,000 year-long sleep.  With his Baton of Justice, Golden Bat laughs in the face of danger and leaps where others fear to tread, ready to save mankind from its extraterrestrial threat!

Originally created in 1931 by writer Ichiro Suzuki and illustrator Takeo Nagamatsu, Golden Bat is transported to the Space Age in this low-budget, science fiction masterpiece from Toei.  Director Hajime Sato (Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell) fills the screen with alien bad-guys, super-science laboratories, buzzing laser beams, and plenty of cool ’60s gadgetry.  This early example of tokusatsu entertainment and Toei’s prominent superhero productions is sure to please kids and adults alike!

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • New interview with actor Sonny Chiba
  • Golden Bat, the First Superhero, a video essay by Eric P. Nash on the origins of Golden Bat
  • Reversible sleeve with original and commissioned artwork
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Japanese film scholar Chris D., illustrated with historical artwork of Golden Bat

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