All About Control

“I might help you go to hell” (Nadeki, “Satyr Monks”)

All Nadeki’s film appearances offer a strong, consistent action presence with a primary emphasis on karate, and only secondary use of firearms.  She appears to have entered the second wave of GWG films from 1989 onward primarily due to her martial arts skills rather than acting ability.  It would not be unfair to characterize her acting as lacking the passionate intensity generated by either Yukari Oshima or Michiko Nishiwaki.  Yet a systematic viewing of Nadeki’s film roles suggests that her apparent formality – the controlled “outer” behavior or tatemae that includes stiff bowing (e.g., “Wonderful Killer”), flower presentations (outtakes of “Crystal Hunt”) and pervasive facial control even under extreme threat – vibrates with its own distinctive energy.  Simple, elegant attire (e.g., “Crystal Hunt”) and a sharp-edged hairstyle (“Rock on Fire”) connote both severity and control.

Ultimately, it may be the controlled, sensual aggression of martial arts that is most exciting to watch.  By observation, Nadeki’s preferred style appears – like Shotokan – to favor low, raking kicks.  At first glance her fighting form may appear less spectacular than the high kicking of supremely flexible Yukari Oshima.  But Nadeki’s multiple, sustained combination kicks on display against Moon Lee (“Killer Angels”) or Sharon Yeung (“Erotic Passion”) convey pure skill and artistry.  Her summary dispatch of the latter film’s male hero – culminating in a killer knife-hand strike to the neck – is brutally efficient.  Moreover, Nadeki’s other fight sequences are uniformly competent and convincing.  Tumbling and a variety of low front- and back-kicks are especially noteworthy.  She could also take kicks, throws and falls with conviction.  Occasionally Nadeki would deliver remarkable jumping kicks.  Perhaps these were principally for show, but nonetheless represent an impressive testament to form and fitness.  At such moments – backed into a corner by inescapable circumstances, wearing a black topcoat or camo clothing – Nadeki’s character delivers focus, intensity and the kind of desperate courage that has distinguished some of best moments of the GWG genre.

Telling symbols of controlled aggression include marked preference for paramilitary fatigues and combat boots, military style jackets and hats, or leather.  Fujimi’s characters ride motorcycles (“Killer Angels,” “Pink Panther,” “Rock on Fire”), drive a red sports car (“Rock on Fire”) and occasionally wield some fairly large guns (“Killer Angels,” “Crystal Hunt,” “Wonderful Killer,” “Rock on Fire”).  In one of many sexually charged scenes of “Rock on Fire,” Nadeki’s character experiences a classic anxiety dream of typically masculine impotence.  When confronted with the target of her pursuit engaged in sexual activity she struggles to raise her gun hand – but cannot.  When paired with her satisfying, high quality martial arts skills in a filmography that included casting as both villains and heroes, such factors yield an intriguing, ambiguous screen persona whose very remoteness could be enticing.

Nadeki developed essentially only two principal screen characters – a dour, controlled figure relentless in pursuit of her mission (“Crystal Hunt,” “Cheetah on Fire,” “Lady Killer,” “Wonderful Killer,” “Rock on Fire”) often as a police investigator, and a mean-spirited enforcer or vengeance-seeker (“Killer Angels,” “Mission of Condor,” “Pink Panther,” “Erotic Passion”).  Such parts provided opportunities for display of martial arts prowess against some of the best in the industry.  These included Moon Lee (“Killer Angels,” “Mission of Condor”), Simon Yam (“Mission of Condor”), Ken Lo and Michael Woods (“Crystal Hunt”), Dick Wei (“Lady Killer,” “Wonderful Killer”), Lam Wei (“Wonderful Killer”), Sharon Yeung (“Erotic Passion”) and Billy Chow (“Rock on Fire”).