片腕マシンガール「Kataude Mashin Garu」
Release Date: August 02nd, 2008
Running Time: 96 mins.
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Writer: Noboru Iguchi (Screenplay),
Starring: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Kentaro Shimazu, Honoka, Nobuhiro Nishihara, Ryosuke Kawamura, Kentaro Kishi, Taro Suwa, Nahana,
Over the summer months I reviewed Sushi Typhoon movies. This is the label responsible for many splatter films and was created to sell movies to westerners based on what Japanese filmmakers think will sell, namely extreme action, horror and all of the clichés that are conjured up when we think about Japan. Machine Girl is the perfect encapsulation of this and it isn’t even a Sushi Typhoon film! It doesn’t get any more Japanese than a schoolgirl fighting ninjas and yakuza with blood spraying everywhere. What makes our central protagonist a machine girl? The huge machine gun she totes in place of her left arm.
The opening sequence sees our titular Machine Girl, Ami Hyuga (Minase Yashiro), blow the gore, gristle, and guts from a bunch bullies with no explanations given. The film then jumps back in time to when our sailor-suited protagonist was still a normal girl. Her brother Yu (Ryosuke Kawamura) is being hounded by bullies and with no parents to take care of them they only have each other which is why Ami is devastated when Yu is killed by the bullies.
With righteous anger fuelling her search for the bad boys Ami tracks them down and after a series of battles involving their parents she discovers they are led by Sho Kimura (Nobuhiro Nishihara), the son of a ninja family who make their money from being yakuza. His father (Kentaro Shimazu) is a snarling swod-swinging disciplinarian with bad hair and a mean temper. Sho’s mother (Honoka) is even worse, a woman who is smoking hot in terms of looks but ice cold in terms of empathy, heartless and cruel she packs a decidedly deadly collection of devices which she uses on victims.
These guys are so rich that they can afford a massive house complete with staff who are maimed and killed whenever they upset their masters – witness the sushi chef who must eat his own fingers, complete with icky crunching sounds, and a maid who is throttled to death.
Ami has her work cut out fighting these guys and she soon has her arm cut off when they capture and torture her but with the help of ex-biker chick Miki (Asami) and her husband she comes back to the fight with a mini-gun attached to her body. With shuriken and bullets whizzing about, this is a showdown between some of Japan’s most iconic fetishes: school girls and ninjas.
LET BATTLE COMMENCE!
The Machine Girl is the best splatter film I have seen. It is precision tooled action awesomeness that plays with every Japan related fetish you can name with a blood-spattered grin. Unlike many other splatter films I have reviewed so far this one features great direction both in terms of what’s shown on screen and when we get to see it. Director Noboru Iguchi knows where he is going and gets there at a fair clip, the pace of the film flowing fast with little to no down-time between gags and action.
Director Noboru Iguchi can derail a film when he loses control of his silly and pervy side but not here. He is laser-focussed on playing up clichés and fetishes and so there is a purpose to every scene and camera angle and it is to further the awesomness and awesome silliness of the film, providing the perfect B-movie texture. Nary a scene goes by where we’re not firmly placed in a location and soon staring down the barrel of Ami’s gun, watching shuriken zoom towards us or getting a glimpse of Ami’s panties as she spins, jumps, and kicks and her skirt lifts up while she beats up a variety of bad guys.
Editing is rapid during the fights and measured during the more dramatic and comedic bits and it is all played up straight which just emphasises the cheesiness and bizarreness of the fights where sword-wielding ninjas can pop out of nowhere and start slashing at Ami, yakuza heavies start blasting away at people and Ami and her biker friends blasts them back wit her minigun. The special effects and pints of blood sprayed around are fun to see and the cheesiness is emphasised from their excessive use. The camera zooms in and out of gore shots and intense knife fights but never for too long. The violence meted out between characters is over the top but perfectly pitched to ensure the audience is never left too uncomfortable while gorehounds will still get lots of fun. The violence and sexiness is almost always tastefully shown and never as dumb and offensive and lame as they can be in Iguchi’s other films.
The gore quotient is somewhere in the middle of the splatter film wave but it features the best use of physical and digital special effects that skew close to realistic but are pushed a little bit further for fun and to play up the fakeness of certain aspects. With blood spraying out and CG shuriken flying about, there’s plenty of things in motion but Yoshihiro Nishimura’s (Helldriver, Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl) special effects get their real work out with the prosthetic limbs and the fake heads that scatter across the set.
The acting is pitch-perfect. Women take the lead in this one training each other and battling wave upon wave of burly men and look totally cool while doing it. In this film it is guys who are the damsels in distress. The bad guys are all snarling and glaring thugs while Sushi Typhoon movie stalwart Asami is given a meaty role as Miki, mother of another boy murdered by the bullies. She seizes it with gusto, looking gorgeous as tough biker chick covered in blood and beating the stuffing out of people and going through a range of emotions while doing so.
The engine at the heart of the film is Minase Yashiro as Ami, the titular Machine Girl who captures the mood of the film by playing everything straight. With an aura of seriousness she embarks upon her quest for revenge with grim determination that sees her athletically leaping around the set, overcoming torture and discarding prosthetic limbs to attach the mini-gun and look totally cool as she blasts bad guys into oblivion.
All in all, this is a fun film that I have rewatched numerous times this year. It’s a film that is easily re-watchable and as far as I am concerned, out of everything I have seen it is Noboru Iguchi’s best work and better than anything his fellow splatter directors have made.