STUDIO: Asterix Home Entertainment
MSRP: $14.98
RATED: Unrated
RUNNING TIME: 68 Minutes
Commentary by film critics Luke Y. Thompson and Jess Hlubik
American theatrical trailer

The Pitch

The slowest rape in cinema history

The Humans

Masayoshi Nogami, Maki Oaki

Hey, I’ve been on this date before.

The Nutshell

On a remote island in socially tumultuous 1960s Japan an escaped murderer tries to have his way with a suicidal girl, resulting in a lengthy struggle both physical and mental.

The Lowdown

I can’t say I’ve seen much in the way of vintage erotica, and certainly none of Japanese origin. It seems surprising that Naked Pursuit was deemed worthy of a U.S. theatrical release back in the day, but a look at distributor Harry Novak’s resume suggests he wasn’t too choosy when it came to skin. Among the exploitation classics he brought to the trench coat crowd are Wham Bam Thank You Spaceman, Please Don’t Eat My Mother, and Midnight Plowboy, all of which sound infinitely more entertaining than Naked Pursuit turns out to be.

"Thank god for the double bill with Gojira."

Perhaps people were very easily aroused back in the late 60s, for they’d pretty much have to be to stay awake through what is easily one of the most tedious sexual encounters ever put to film. Approximately two thirds of the film’s brief 68 minute running time focuses on the unnamed fugitive either wrestling in the sand with the girl or clumsily chasing her up and down the dunes Keystone Cops style. This sad sack has a harder time scoring than Beavis.

Of course it wouldn’t be the 60s without some attempt to insert social commentary, so the films halfheartedly tries to tie the fugitive’s violent urges to society’s with news footage of student riots in Japan and combat in Vietnam. Unfortunately this only takes a couple minutes away from the aimless groping. The climax attempts to say something about man’s savagery being his undoing, but I doubt many viewers will make it that far.

How come all I ever find is driftwood?

The original Japanese cut is made even more exciting by the almost complete absence of dialogue. The two reasonably competent leads don’t speak a word until the halfway point, and only a handful thereafter. A copious amount of reverb-enhanced moans is looped in however to remind us something steamy is allegedly transpiring, not to mention the minimalist but vaguely pornographic score.

The more entertaining English version is uneasy with long silences and loops in lots of improvised cornball dialogue that might have been heard in a Bruce Lee film if he’d ever worked blue. In this version the characters have the power of telepathy, holding animated conversations without ever moving their lips.

"I promise I won’t hold you back baby. Just don’t walk too fast."

At least the camerawork is quite good, with some very nicely composed shots on the picturesque island of Izu Oshima near Tokyo. Not as welcome are the gimmicky attempts to enhance the "action" with excessive slow motion and frantic zooming. Though there’s plenty of unimpressive toplessness, objects and limbs are carefully placed Austin Powers style to keep the audience from seeing anything especially naughty.

Too sleazy for foreign film fans and too dull for sleazy film fans, Naked Pursuit‘s target demographic is a mystery to me. I suppose people nostalgic for watching mind-numbing soft core at the drive-in, the 60s equivalent of roofies.

Britney heading out to do some shopping.

The Package

The cover art is cleverly tinted to hide the fact that the film is primarily black and white, and makes the plot sound much more substantial than it is.

Despite claims of digital restoration, the vast majority of the film is terribly fuzzy with occasional flickering, and only the color finale looks reasonably crisp. The sound quality is also a bit rough and it’s almost surely a mono recording.

Not exactly the post-coital reaction she’d hoped for.

The vintage American trailer included is actually much more entertaining than the film itself, hedging its bets between the art house crowd and the porn crowd. "If you are an adult you must see… NAKED PURSUIT!"

The only recommended way to attempt watching Naked Pursuit is with the casual and irreverent commentary by film critics Luke Y. Thompson and Jess Hlubik. It doesn’t provide much in the way of analysis, but does take many amusing Mystery Science Theater style potshots.

3 out of 10