Stray Cat Rock: Wild Jumbo (1970)

Released only three months after the first film in the series, Toshiya Fujita’s replaces Yasuharu Hasebe for the second of five Stray Cat Rock films. No worries — they’ll split directing duties for the rest of these films. This one is concerned with five friends who come up with a plan to rob 30 million yen (about $270,000 in today’s exchange). Meiko Kaji returns from the first film, now the star and no longer the sidekick, although her character has no relation to the first film.

A group of wild young people called the Penguin Club (or Pelicans, I’ve seen it written that way in articles too) who love to play around in their Jeep shoot out the tires of a car driven by a wealthy woman named Asako. They soon set her free, but she’s already fallen for Taki, a member of the gang. She soon tells him that she’s part of a religious group called Shinkyo Gakkai and they could help her be part of a heist to make some real money.

The third entry in the series, Sex Hunter, was filmed at the same time, with Meiko Lee and the Alleycats running back and forth between the sets. That’s pretty crazy.

The Penguin Club goes from rebelling against nothing and doing stupid things like stealing dump trucks to something really foolish: digging up a stash of weapons from the end of the war and fighting the cops. The tone dramatically shifts by the end of the film. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the first film in the series, but there’s still plenty of good parts.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime or get the Arrow Video box set.

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