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Hugely flawed but bloody entertaining!
on 6 January 2011
**** slight spoilers ****
The Machine Girl is a deliriously OTT black comedy/splatter-fest, with outrageous comic-book gore by the bucket-load. It should appeal to those of you who enjoyed 'Ichi The Killer' although, truth be told, this is a rather less accomplished work than Takashi Miike's visceral opus. Indeed many of the deaths and maimings are quite similar to those in Ichi, but don't go looking for any hidden depths here, 'cos there aren't any! The plot consists of a simple revenge motif - Ami, a normal if slightly dippy schoolgirl, is turned into a revenging monster by the death of her brother, murdered by bullies. Unfortunately for Ami, the chief bully is the psychopathic son of a ninja/yakuza family and her first encounter with them leaves her minus an arm. Well what can you do under those circumstances eh? Perhaps as a slight hat-tip to Ash in Evil Dead, you strap a weapon to it. In this case it just happens to be a huge kick-arse machine gun. As Ami battles her way through boss yakuza's minions in true comic-book style we are treated to increasingly gory set-pieces and frantic combat and torture scenes, one of which even made this hardened gore-hound wince a little! It was quite amusing how each adversary announced themselves and struck an heroic pose before attacking! Annoyingly though (well for me anyway) the final show-down with the son and his particularly nasty mother is ruined by gross over-use of strobe lighting, rendering it utterly unwatchable. That's about it! Machine Girl rattles along at a helluva pace and is undeniably entertaining. The usual making-of extras are also worth a look.
The Blu-Ray presentation though, is extremely poor. Overall picture quality is grainy with heavily jagged aliasing evident on all diagonal lines. The team responsible for encoding this should be sacked! 5.1 sound is reasonable - especially during the shuriken-throwing scenes, but is not as dynamic as I would expect, nor is there anything resembling a rocking metal soundtrack, which would have served this well.
If you can survive the fit-inducing strobe lighting and enjoy OTT splatter-fests, then Machine Girl should just about melt your butter. Despite its many flaws I do confess to enjoying it. As a demonstration of Blu-Ray's capabilities though, forget it!