Plot: What’s it about?
If this synopsis seems vague, you’ll have to trust me and see the rest for yourself, as this is a rather difficult film to summarize. The focus is on a band of political activists, who will use whatever means needed to make their points, even if that involves fatalities. We never find out much about them or their cause, but this veil of secrecy never hinders the film much, even their names remain hidden here. This band of extremists has just tried a raid on a U.S. military base, but when their plans went haywire, it seems as though some bonds of trust have been broken. Someone inside their own ranks has betrayed them and their cause, but no one knows for sure just what happened. These folks were shaky in terms of mental health before, but now their minds have went downhill even more, which makes them even more dangerous. Has this potential flaw in their bond as a team caused them to lose sight of the entire picture, or will they be able to piece it all back together?
After I had seen Go, Go Second Time Virgin, I was looking forward to giving this disc a spin. In the end, Ecstasy of the Angels (also known as The Angelic Orgasm) is a much different film, but still offers an unusual cinematic experience. I am not able to understand Japanese and as such, I am unsure how reliable the subtitles were, but I think some of the political message lost through the subs, though I could be wrong on that. In any case, there is a heavy political message here, but it seems to be overshadowed by all the offbeat nature and frequent nudity. That isn’t to say the film fails, as I think most of the major points surface, but I do think some folks could be swept away from those messages. The main plot movements come from violence, sex, and extended monologues, which push the political messages a little more. I never found this to be a dull movie in the least, but I can see how those with short attention spans could feel left behind here. In the end, Ecstasy of the Angels is not a picture with a wide appeal, but for those interested, this disc is well worth a look.
If you like Ecstasy of the Angels and want to see more flicks like it, then you need to explore the resume of the director here, Koji Wakamatsu. I won’t claim that all of Wakamatsu’s cinematic efforts are like this one, but all the ones I’ve seen have a very offbeat energy, which is cool. His subject matter and choice of visuals won’t impress all viewers, but if you’re open to all sorts of input, his resume is well worth looking through. And I also won’t claim that all of his flicks are good, but chances are that you’ll find more than a few in there you’ll like, if you’re a fan of Ecstasy of the Angels. Some of Wakamatsu’s other pictures include Go, Go Second Time Virgin, The Embryo Hunts In Secret, Young Girls Who Die For Love, Violated Angels, Erotic Liaisons, The Wet Flower’s Budding Eye, Modern Sex Torture, and Black Bestial Desire. The cast here includes Yuki Arasa, Rie Yokoyama (Diary of A Shinjuku Thief), Masao Adachi (Gingakei, Seiyugi), and Ken Yoshizawa (Violent Cop).
Video: How does it look?
Ecstasy of the Angels is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a solid transfer, although the source materials do show some signs of wear and tear. But with a film of this nature, some debris and damage is expected and since it isn’t that bad, I won’t knock the score much. The transfer holds up well in both the color and black & white sequences, with no real problems to discuss. The color sequences look very rich and bright, while the black & white ones are smooth and well balanced. Some small flaws do force me to lower the score somewhat, but this is still a fine visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
A basic mono track is used on this disc and in the end, it seems more than up to the task. The dialogue is presented in the original Japanese form and sounds good, very crisp and no harshness in the least to report. The music and sound effects also come off well, though not as full as a surround track. But as far as this type of material goes, this track is just fine and presents no serious problems at all. The included English subtitles are white, which means they can be hard to read at times. I hope future Image titles will all feature yellow subtitles, which are superior.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The same interview with Koji Wakamatsu from the Go, Go Second Time Virgin disc is present, which is a let down. But if you didn’t purchase that disc, this piece is more than worth a look.