Ty Burr
May 29, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Black Lizard

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
86 minutes
performer
Akihiro Maruyama, Yukio Mishima
director
Kinji Fukasaku
distributor
Cinevista
genre
Foreign Language, Comedy, Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A

John Waters to the contrary, bizarro cult movies represent yet another area where Japan has repeatedly bested America. Black Lizard, a 1968 jaw dropper, is plenty proof. The hyperactive plot pits brilliant (if stodgy) detective Akechi (Isao Kimura) against brilliant (if flagrantly campy) archvillainess Black Lizard, played by celebrated onnagata — that’s a female impersonator to you, bub — Akihiro Maruyama. The candy colors will poke you in the eye, the pacing is as crazed as rush hour in Tokyo, and the whole thing plays like mid-’60s James Bond gone berserkly Kabuki. Added bonus for literati: Novelist Yukio Mishima, who originally wrote the stage adaptation, appears in the film as one of Black Lizard‘s living statues. In two years, Mishima would commit an extremely public hara-kiri; in its own way, this movie taps that same demented theatricality. Uncategorizable, but what the hey, let’s give it an A.

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