Directed by Teruo Ishii and Gyoji Shimomura
Written by Akira Sagawa and Teruo Ishii
Cast: Ken Utsui, Akemi Tsukushi, Yôko Mihara, Teruo Hata, Shigeru Ogura, Akira Nakamura, Kenjiro Uemura, Yukiko Hayama, Kyôko Yashiro, Fumiko Miyata, Masayo Yoshida, and Hiroshi Asami
The Japanese police launch an undercover operation to bring down a prostitution ring. But things don’t go as planned when it is revealed one of the leaders is a former lover of one of the undercover cops.
In retrospect, Flesh Pier feels kind of like a spiritual predecessor to the line films that explores the Japanese sex trade and its association with the Japanese nightlife. In terms of quality, Flesh Pier is a mixed bag. Flesh Pier isn’t sure if it wants to be a full-on criminal thriller or even a full-on melodrama. Though Flesh Pier may not be as well crafted as the future installments of line series, it is still worth a watch for fans of Japanese post-war film noirs. Flesh Pier’s greatest merit is its ability to craft some a melodrama of some note against a backdrop of a seedy underworld. Not only are the heroes lovelorn but a few of the villains are. Despite partaking in less-than-stellar activities, Rumi’s desire to be connected with her long lost love Keizo Yoshioka is touching.
Few other Japanese actress besides Yôko Mihara can convey authoritativeness but with a hard touch of vulnerability as well. Much like Mayumi from Sexy Line and Maya from Black Line that would follow in a few years. If Flesh Pier didn’t stray from the course and just developed the relationship between Yoshioka and Rumi then Flesh Pier would be a stronger offering. Instead, Flesh Pier gets lost in its own plot by including completely unnecessary supporting characters. The subplot about the young cop and his girlfriend being a secret call girl is an odd addition that doesn’t move the core plot at all or even has any serious impact on it. It makes you wonder if the script was written in a jiffy or what. But, that’s hardly the weakest aspect.
Yoshioka being way too much of a passive protagonist trivializes him despite him apparently being the lead. It is Rumi that is the most active here in shaping the plot. So, it probably would have made more sense to have her in the lead and let the story unfold completely from her viewpoint. In spite of these calls for more refinements, Flesh Pier is still somewhat moving due to its semi-decent melodrama.
Flesh Pier is the mediocre prototype for a more engaging series of films.