Did any studio ever work harder at pumping out sexploitation fare than Nikkatsu during their “Roman Porno” era? They spent most of the ’70s and the first half of the ’80s cranking out this fare, releasing movies at a rate that put any major studio to shame. However, the focus on cranking out a constant stream of product meant that they could all be as slick and carefully crafted as their best efforts.
As a result, you occasionally got films like Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle. The plotline for this quickie is a real “kitchen sink” effort. The heroine is Kei (Junko Asahina), a corporate worker who doubles as the coach of her company’s gymnastics team. The team isn’t doing too well so the company decides to spice things up by making it a “rhythmic gymnastics” team and using it as the basis for a new ad campaign. To ensure success, they ask Kei to step down from coach to gymnast so they can draft in experience male coach Aoki (Funasaku Sasairi).
And that’s where the trouble begins. Kei was once a promising gymnast and Aoki was her coach – but after they consummated their coach/student love, she was never able to successfully compete again. Will she and Aoki be able to iron out their differences? Will randy secretary Ichigo (Yuka Takamura) succeed in seducing the coach? Both questions are dealt with and the viewer is treated to plenty of low comedy and sex scenes as well.
Even by Nikkatsu Roman Porno standards, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle is pretty wacked-out. It has the hastily-made feel of something designed to flesh out a release schedule. The slapdash plotting piles on elements without always remembering to pay them off: for example, much to-do is made about a competition that is important to both the company and our heroine but the film ends before said competition happens! The tone constantly shifts from high melodrama to low comedy in a way guaranteed to induce whiplash. Even the sex scenes often seem kind of rushed.
That said, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle is never dull. At 67 minutes, it offers an array of hijinks that you would never see in a modern sexploitation film. Low-comedy highlights include a middle-management type who is constantly groping the ladies and and a scene where the ladies look on as a closet homosexual executive tries to pounce on the coach after mistakenly believing him to be gay (when we next see said executive, he’s wearing Rob Halford-style biker leathers in his office!).
On the sexier side of things, there’s a fun moment involving some nude gymnastics and an intriguingly stylized flashback sex scene that involves a crane shot. Director Koyu Ohara was a prolific Nikkatsu director and he gives the film a suitable scope-format visual gloss. Better yet, early ’80s sexploitation starlet Asahina goes through the plot’s quirky motions with poise and an appropriate lack of inhibitions. Takamura is also worthy of note, in both the acting and nudity categories, as Asahina’s minxish office competitor.
In short, Female Gym Coach: Jump And Straddle definitely fits more into the “programmer” end of Nikkatsu’s Roman Porno outfit but it’s fast enough – and weird enough – to amuse devotees of this style.
DVD Notes: the new Impulse Pictures DVD of this film represents its American home video debut. As usual, the anamorphic transfer is crisp, colorful and handsomely remastered, boasting the original Japanese soundtrack with new English subs. Extras consist of an eye-popping trailer and a quick but informative set of liner notes from Jasper Sharp that discuss the careers of Ohara, Asahina and Takamura.