The 13 Steps of Maki (1975)

Directed by: Makoto Naitô (1975)
Starring: Etsuko Shihomi as Maki
Tatsuya Nanjo as Tetsuya Eto
Hiroshi Nawa as Ryunosuke Daimon, the Yakuza Boss

After further analysis, Cynthia Rothrock & Angela Mao might have some serious competition as the reigning belt holder of being the most revered onscreen kickass chick! Etsuko Shihomi, who is better known for her Sister Street Fighter roles with Sonny Chiba plays Maki, a leader of the stray cats gang! She is the mother hen that nurtures her runaway, outlaw sister chicks. She teaches the stray cat members her deadly form of karate in order to protect themselves from the doggy dog world of rival switchblade sister gangs in the classic sense & one that is in disguise of a corporate entity. The opening scene of the movie involves a pair of tortured & bruised up stray cat members who are tied flat on their backs on the railroad tracks waiting for some fresh skidmarks. Maki suddenly appears on the scene with a white overcoat, her number 13 black top, & her red gloves to whip some urban ass with her powerful & rhythmic flow of karate while performing some amazing spinning back kicks, jumping front, side, hook, & crescent kicks, rabbid school of hard knock punches, & some aikido like throws! Beautiful & deadly, Maki shows the thugs what’s up! The opening soundtrack & theme song of the film got me real psyched up to do a few ki-yaa’s myself & take a some swigs of sake at the same time!
Despite the Stray Cat Gang’s badass reputation, other rivals most notably Takako, a daughter of a tycoon business owner of Ebihara Tourism challenges Maki & her crew. Ebihara hires a tight fisted, street fighting karate expert named Eto to go toe to toe, mano y mano, man vs woman with number 13! Another interesting scene in the movie involves a woman getting stripped down against her will while a traditional japanese tattoo done the old school method was being freshly laid upon her! The two rival parties go back and forth with each other when a Yakuza clan comes in swift like an eagle to eat up the Ebihara Tourism empire and their lucrative business of their Geishas of Sukiyaki in which they planned to open up branches in New York & L.A. .
Meanwhile, Maki has family issues of her own while pondering on the whereabouts of her long lost brother played by Sonny chiba(brief cameo appearance) who hasn’t returned from L.A. yet. The Yakuza clan uses false information of the whereabouts of Maki’s brother to lure the other stray cat members in to kidnap them. Their ultimate goal is to drug up the stray cats, & the geisha girls of Ebihara, sex them up & then sell them overseas to the underworld. Maki also gets the hook, line, & sinker as she gets framed for robbery & intrusion when she tries to save the ladies! Off to jail she goes! The ginga gang catches up to Maki in prison & some cat fighting is definitely on the menu! In the end, # 13 will find her way out & collaborate with whoever’s left with Ebihara Tourism in order to eradicate the Yakuza! Some serious single & double nunchaku fare will be offered by Maki on her quest of vengeance, you can believe that!
If you want some no nonsense old school karate served up by a cute but deadly chick, check this joint out! I could picture 13 Steps of Maki selling out to grindhouse crowds at 42nd street/Times Square in the 1970’s! In my martian opinion, the 13 Steps of Maki is Etsuko Shihomi’s best film! Better than the Sister Streetfighter series & Dragon Princess, fo sho! Grab a bag of dried octopus, some pocky chocolates, & some mochi and enjoy the hell outta’ the MAKI! Just be sure that junior isn’t around because flashing tities and rebel yells have been known to make some cameo appearances in this jam! Thanks to grandmaster HAZ from Kung Fu Cinema for providing a remastered AND 1st ever english subbed copy of this classic!

Note: This review is in conjunction with the Japanese Cinema Blogathon to help aid the recent natural disasters in Japan, hosted by JapanCinema and CinemaFanatic.

courtesy of kkamagi on Youtube

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