A juvenile delinquent gets out of the pen and causes reckless mayhem, mostly directed at the girlfriend of the journalist who helped send him up.A juvenile delinquent gets out of the pen and causes reckless mayhem, mostly directed at the girlfriend of the journalist who helped send him up.A juvenile delinquent gets out of the pen and causes reckless mayhem, mostly directed at the girlfriend of the journalist who helped send him up.
Koreyoshi Kurahara's The Warped Ones, aka Season of Heat, aka Wild Love- Makers, aka The Weird Lovemakers, is one of the quintessential Sun Tribe films. This was a short sub-genre of Japanese dramas based on the lives of the contemporary youth, whose interests included beach life, jazz music and progressive attitude towards sex. Perhaps the most famous of these is Ko Nakahira's Crazed Fruit, but Kurahara's movie is closer to Yoshishige Yoshida's Good-for-Nothing, because of the way jazz music carries the plot. For the movie, Kurahara reused some plot elements from his earlier Sun Tribe film The Time of Youth. The Warped Ones was such a success that Kurahara later made a follow-up, The Black Sun, with the cast of this film returning to reprise their roles.
This movie is the proof that the Japanese New Wave splashed harder than any other film movement back in the day. It's the most fast-paced, relentlessly energetic '60s movie I know of, where destructive mayhem and raging hormones of the protagonists are perfectly synched with the soundtrack and many dynamic camera moves. Remember, this was the same year when Hitchcock's Psycho shocked viewers for showing a toilet flush. In contrast, the protagonist of The Warped Ones is even more of a casual rapist than Alex from A Clockwork Orange which was released 11 years later! Another testament to the revolutionary spirit of the Japanese New Wave. However, unlike Alex from ACO, Akira from TWO is more of a jazz fanatic than a Beethoven aficionado; Akira is a wild beast of a character whose carefree, reckless gestures reflect the spontaneity of jazz. His rapid movements are often accompanied by various exaggerated grunts, screams and sound effects (and greeting women with: "Wanna f*ck?"). After all, actor Tamio Kawachi was instructed to act like a hungry lion roaring at the sun. The result is one of the wildest performances in '60s cinema.
The movie is obviously a social piece set to criticize juvenile delinquency. However, it actually provides some understanding of the background for the characters and basically criticizes the very environment the criminals grow up in. Even though Akira is the supposed antihero, Kurahara also portrays the middle-class couple that set him in as negative characters, and there's an interesting moral dilemma at the very end that reflects this. Kurahara's film is also a portrait of its time, where the attitude towards the foreigners still wasn't the best and parts of the country were in relative chaos.
This being a Sun Tribe film, the visuals are very bright and intruding. At the start the camera points directly towards the sun at its apex, to correspond to the scene of Akira raping a girl at the peak of his reckless behavior. Another scene I like is when Akira, the same girl and her boyfriend are eating a meal together, and the silent, uneasy atmosphere is boosted by the spinning ceiling fans casting brief shadows in passing over the characters. Overall, the lighting and the camera-work here is just amazing. Every frame is incredibly well-lit with an incredible feel for texture, location and mood.
The Warped Ones is a fantastic film that sadly gets few mentions. It's a fascinating window into 1960s Japan and it has an unforgettable main character. Add some excellent music, volatile camera-work and explosive pacing, and what you get is the best Sun Tribe film I've seen so far.
- Apr 4, 2015