0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2009
Great fun. The Machine Girl (aka: Kataude mashin gâru) may not deliver in terms of budget, acting or plot quality but what it possesses, and in gory bucketfuls, is over-the-top violence and blood. Plenty of blood. In fact more blood than a film has right to offer, directed with haemophiliac gusto by Noboru Iguchi. His previous credits include the same low budget and similarly off the wall pinky film comedy Sukeban Boy (aka: Oira sukeban, 2006) - but having seem them both I think this one is better. Iguchi's work may be cheap and cheerful, but rarely unmemorable. The Machine Girl is no exception, even if it is hardly the disc to pop into the player for a romantic evening in.
It begins with a striking pre credit sequence where we first see the vengeful appearance of schoolgirl, Ami Hyuga (Minase Yashiro). The delectable Ami, we are to learn, has been transformed into a machine-gunning killer by the death of her beloved brother Yu, who with a friend was murdered by Sho, the bullying son of a local yakuza leader. Ami's first attack on the Hanzou Hattori clan at home, the said yakuza - who also pride themselves on their ninja heritage - led to the loss of one of her arms. Thereupon taken in by Miki, Yu's mother and her mechanically innovative husband, Ami's stump has been fitted with a powerful weapon.
Those familiar with Planet Terror will immediately recognise the fighting potential of an armed amputee; Machine Girl goes further and eventually provides us with two of them, what with Ami's stump so gainfully employed from the beginning and then Miki's final use of a chainsaw, placed at the end of her recently lopped-off foot. That's during a confrontation at the end of a film full of such bloody engagements. Iguchi relishes outlandish scenes of dismemberment, and Machine Girl is characterised by several episodes of outlandish slicing and dicing. If you have seen Kung Pow, then you will remember the moment a hole is punched through a chest allowing interested and disbelieving parties to peer through. Typically, Machine Girl takes this a stage further, dispenses with the stage disbelief entirely and ends up with a shooting by machine gun poking through the cavity!
It's a film full of snigger out-loud moments - and some memorable lines too: for instance the heroine's "Wash your hair in your son's blood!", or the villainess' "I'm wearing a special bra made of steel!" Springing from an established tradition of martial schoolgirl-types in Japanese cinema (remember Azumi, 2003?), Ami Hyuga is cute but despite her simpering smile she soon gains grudging support from her enemies as she stalks and slashes through their ranks. The Hanzou Hattori are the prime targets, headed up by husband and wife team of the Kimuras. Mrs Kimura is arguably the worst, and dominates her cruel husband. It is Mrs K's 'drill bra' which proves the most remarkable image of the film, its revolving steel cups threatening Ami during the final attack - incidentally during which their close contact adds to the faint air of lesbianism pervading the movie's female relationships.
There are other challenges for Ami and Miki to overcome too: shortly before Ami's metamorphosis into machine-gunning ingéénue, she and new ally are abruptly confronted by the 'Junior High Shuriken Gang' (red Ninjas), in a dramatic self-introduction which reminded this viewer of the Judean People's Front crack suicide squad from Monty Python's Life Of Brian. Then a little later, having dispatched this aggressive, if youthful band, they find themselves up against the aggrieved parents of same, now armed and grouped in opposition against them as the 'Super Mourner Gang'.
Ami is very aware of the need to protect and avenge her family. After all, as she rather guilelessly reminds her brother early on, "when mum and dad committed suicide because of the murder allegation, remember what we promised?" Although not much more is made of this tragic background (there's an unspoken suggestion that the Kimuras may have been behind the original frame up) it's enough to give her ensuing rampage added significance. Even though, as she rather ironically admits initially, one should consider carefully before taking a life. This calming hesitation is soon lost in the bloody turmoil of events as Ami's determination to avenge matters drives events from one baroque killing to another.
Machine Girl's final message, if it can be taken as that, is against school bullying, issued here with straight face. Given the mayhem amongst juniors we've just witnessed, one assumes it is meant ironically. Indeed a lot of the film works best with a huge suspension of disbelief and jaundiced humour as we sit back and watch the special effects guys do their business, putting the motivations of the central characters down to the entertaining peculiarities of Japanese popular culture. If there is an old fashioned grindhouse still alive and well in Tokyo, then this would be showing. Ultimately, this is not a cruel film, or even really disturbing, more grotesque and cartoonishly macabre, performed in a way which its target audience will understand entirely. Shot on video, it looks cheap and none of the special effects are first rank. But there's hardly a dull scene in it, even if the dangers of diminishing returns for this sort of display become apparent towards the end. At any rate it's obviously proved a success, for the director has already completed the short Shyness Machine Girl and, perhaps with thoughts still on the appeal of automated mayhem, plans 'Robo-Geisha' next.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2009
Given the film has a reputation that came long before it about the high amount of blood and gore on show, you have to say that The Machine Girl doesn't beat around the bush - within two minutes, we've already had one character have their arm lopped off and spray blood all over the place. By the ten minute mark, heads have been blown off, faces reduced to mincemeat by gunfire, holes blown through chests, and somebody has a pole rammed through their mouth and out the back of their head.
In other words, if it's the sort of OTT splatter that gained Ichi the Killer a reputation long before its UK release, or made Braindead the real film on Peter Jackson's CV that has to be seen to be believed, then this is right up your ally.
The filmmakers have embraced the absurdity of the premise with relish, and any gore gag they can think up (and afford) is gleefully put on screen, be it decapitations, lopping off limbs, arm tempura, finger sushi, or large holes being blasted through people. And, aside from the scene where Ami is being tortured, it's all done in the type of splatstick you get in Braindead or Evil Dead II - yes, it's hugely violent, but it's done in a humorous way (because it would be unwatchable if it wasn't). The problem is, of course, that by the halfway mark they've run out of ways to kill people in increasingly OTT ways, and have to rely on the old genre fallback - the chainsaw - to get to the end.
Of course, that's not all that gets lost by the halfway point of the film, either, given how just about every supporting character with a line of dialogue gets killed off in order to move the story forward - or to the next blood-drenched showdown, be it with yakuza, ninjas, or the Super Mourner Squad. Yes, I just said Super Mourning Squad. In other words, it's similar to the way Chocolate was an excuse to have a lot of fight scenes at random intervals. In other words, this is what puts it at a disadvantage against Ichi the Killer (or any of Takashi Miike's nuttiest films, like Fudoh: The New Generation) or Braindead, because there's barely anything outside of the fight/splatter scenes.
Sure, The Machine Girl is a lot of fun when it's ramping up the splatter content, but there's any number of films you can say that about that're just as much fun, but also keep the interest far longer.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2010
Made apparently with an eye on the Western/American video market it tailors the goods to suit the politically correct West. Rape is merely implied here unlike almost every real Japanese action/Samurai/thriller/pinky violence flick I've seen in the past where such 'delights' are served up at frequent intervals.
Although the gore is non stop it's never nasty nor mean spirited - again unlike so many Japanese films of the 70's (and even 60's) where cruelty ruled and no amount of demeaning, sexually violent sadism was a mandatory staple. Check out this vintage stuff for the shock of a lifetime.
The film reeks of 'cool' and is aimed at the MTV generation. Much is borrowed from Robert Rodriguez' "PLANET TERROR" which was great and itself borrowed much from 70's Japanese and other exploitation film and was forced to tone these elements down.
Cheaply made and it looks it. Shot on what appears to be low rez highly compressed digi-video the image quality is abysmal with creeping artifacts throughout the likes of which I've rarely seen in a long time. The colour is so washed out to be almost monochrome though this may have been the decision of the director. Oddly enough the 'making of' has clips and footage presented in very clean, crisp, colourful detail that the feature dismally fails with.....!
The gore is plentiful, sometimes well done when prosthetics are utilised - embaressingly bad execution when CGI is utilised. I'd say around about a tanker lorry of blood was used in this show.
The main protagonist is exceptionally cute and she does what she can with the role. Hardly a career booster, but fun for her and us I guess.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2009
Another great gore movie, it's kinda "cheap-made" but that's what makes it so unique, you can laugh, cry and cheer for them at the same time, you can look for a few trailers first but I totally recommend it, one of my favorite movies by far!
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I bought this because of the over the top gore and that is exactly what I got. We're talking: severed limbs and stumps geysering blood like a fireman's hose, spurting finger stumps, jetting necks, amputations and slashings of all kinds.
We're also talking over the top characters: who shrug off nails in the head and amputations and can take more hits than Godzilla before keeling over, who cackle as they maim, mutilate and murder innocents for the slightest excuse (or none at all but because they -the yakuza boss, his wife, and son -happen to be gleeful sadists).
And then it gets really silly. Three red-clad ninjas announce, halfway through a fight with our two heroines, that they are The Junior High School Ninja Squad. Parents of four children killed by our heroines (the aforesaid Ninja Squad and a kid beheaded earlier) dress like an American football team and announce themselves as The All-Parent Revenge Team (or something like that).
Long before you've reached this point, in fact since the opening scene, you've been laughing your head off because the entire movie is so over the top that you've realised it is in fact a comedy pretending to be a gory drama and that all suspension of disbelief has been ruined.
Machine Girl would ironically have been far more intense and gruelling if the gore and over the top characters had been amped down enough to at least make a pretence at seriousness.
It's just too damned silly.