: : : Death Ride to Osaka

Story

A minor TV venture for director Jonathan Kaplan, whose penchant for themes sensitive to the plight of women in extremis informs even this lesser work with a heartening sympathy for its characters. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays a naive, would-be singer named Carol Heath who, through the machinations of a sleazy agent (Philip Charles MacKenzie), signs away a month of her life for the chance of being a nightclub singer in Tokyo. Only once she's there, she finds herself pressed into sexual service by her real employer, the yakuza. Not that she succumbs to the pressure to perform in that other capacity. That's her problem. Because others in her predicament, having refused to serve, wound up on the title's "Death Ride" (the pre-video title was Girls of the White Orchid). The plot is standard thriller fare, taken from a true story, and somewhat redeemed by Kaplan's no-nonsense direction and his affinity for stories of women in trouble. Indeed, along with Leigh's finely realized naive-girl performance, Death Ride to Osaka's main interest may lie in the resonance it has with Jonathan Kaplan's later, more accomplished films. Although it does lack the ambiguity that helps make The Accused interesting, similar themes of abuse are explored. Ditto for Brokedown Palace, its naive young girls in treacherous paradise and legal closed doors making Death Ride look like a dry run for Kaplan's later film. --Jim Gay

Cast

Jennifer Jason Leigh
Ann Jillian
Philip Charles MacKenzie

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