Amazon Video Japan Launches Toei Genre Channel

Sonny Chiba 'Street Fighter' - Screengrab - H 2018
The 'Junk Film by Toei' subscription channel features cult, rarely-seen action, gangster and erotica B movies and straight-to-video flicks.

Amazon Video Japan has launched a new subscription channel featuring never before broadcast B movies and straight-to-video productions from Toei. The films include martial arts actioners starring Sonny Chiba and Hiroyuki Sanada, a yakuza gangster classic by Kinji Fukasaku and softcore erotica pink eiga.

The Junk Film by Toei channel launches with 126 films, 95 of which have never been broadcast, for a monthly fee of $4.40 (?490) on Amazon Prime Video. More titles are expected to be added from Toei's huge back catalogue in the future.

The movies are mostly from the 1960s and 1970s heyday of Japanese genre filmmaking, but also include straight-to-video (known locally as V cinema) from the 1980s and 1990s, as well as B movies (known as program pictures). In addition, theatrically released pink eiga, the softcore films on which many leading Japanese directors cut their teeth and which sustained much of the industry during the 1970s, will also be available.

Highlights include four of the Street Fighter karate series starring action legend Sonny Chiba. Released in the U.S. by New Line Cinema in 1974, The Street Fighter was the first film to receive an X rating purely for violence, reportedly for a scene in which Chiba castrates a rapist with his bare hands. Quentin Tarantino paid homage to the series in his script for True Romance and cited them as favorites in their genre. Roaring Fire (1981), starring Chiba and Sanada (The Last Samurai, John Wick 3) is also among the catalogue.

Kinji Fukasaku's 1969 Japan Organized Crime Boss, starring Bunta Sugawara, is one of a series of classic yakuza films on the channel. Of the pink eiga on Junk Film, 11 titles from the XX series can also be streamed.

Amazon Video nearly doubled its share of the Japanese streaming market to 11.5 percent last year, ahead of Netflix's 7 percent, thanks largely to it coming free with a Prime membership costing just $35 (?3,900) annually.

There are currently no plans to make the Junk Film channel available outside Japan.