Sunday, November 7, 2010

Machine gun weilding girl vs bullies and ninjas!

The Machine Girl (2007)
Starring: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Honoka, Kentaro Shimazu, and Nobuhiro Nishihara
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

When her brother and his best friend are murdered by the spoiled sons of corrupt cops and the local Ninja and Yakuza clans, a high school girl (Yashiro) goes on a gory, revenge-driven murder-spree. After the Yakuza hacks off her left arm, a creative mechanic/gunsmith replace it with a custom-made machinegun, and the mother the brother's friend (Asami) joins her for a final, bloody showdown against Ninja, blood-crazed agents of the Yakuza, and ultimately the queen of the ninja clan and her bully son (Honoka and Nishihara).

"The Machine Girl" has all the prevelant elements of Japanse action films and cartoons crammed into this movie: cute high school girls kicking butt in their school uniforms, Yakuza, Ninja, a quest for righteous revenge, lots of dramatic posing and speechifying before fights can begin... but then it adds almost unimaginable moral bankruptcy, depravity, dismemberment, murder and enough geysers of blood and gore that it will sate the need of even the most hungry gore hound. And it combines all these elements into the funniest send-up of Jap-sploitation films you'll ever see.

This is an insanely gory film. Think "Dead Alive" except with Ninjas and a Japanese high school girl with a machine gun instead of zombies and a nerd with a lawnmower. That's the level of gore this film displays, as well as the level of cartoony-ness. (In fact, this film goes even further than "Dead Alive", as I don't think anything there really compares to the drill-bra mastectomy near the end of this film.)

Yes, this is an incredibly violent movie, but only the most ill socialized adults will mistake anything that happens in this film for reality. There's one scene where our heroines hammer several nails into the head of a Yakuza agent in order to get him to talk, yet he is up and walking around in the next scene. Ami's arm is deep-fried in tempura batter, yet she suffers no burns. Ami gets her arm chopped off, yet she doesn't bleed to death, despite a complete lack of medical attention. (In this movie, loss of blood and limbs only leads to shock and/or death when it's dramatically appropriate.)

This is definitely not a movie to let the younger kids see. It is also not a movie that you should watch if you're at all squeamish when it comes to movie blood or violence on-screen. You might also stay away from nihilism upsets you. I almost stopped the film before it kicked into high gear--just after Ami is almost killed by a crooked cop and his wife for seeking help with bringing her brother's killer to justice--because I found myself thinking, "Wow. What a twisted world this movie exists in... I'm not in the mood for a film with an outlook THIS horrible."

But then Ami went on her first killing spree and once the severed head bobbed to the top in the stew-pot, I was onboard for the rest of the ride.

There's a line between depressing nihilism and stirring (if gory) black comedy. Once "The Machine Girl" crossed that line, it had me laughing and going "eeew!" at the same time. (The only other moment where director/screenwriter Noboru Iguchi almost lost me again was with the final fate of Ami's best friend from school. It's a shocking scene--so I won't go into details and ruin it in case you decide to see the movie--but he went just a little too far for my sensibilities. I think most viewers will feel that way, too.)

If you're looking for a revenge flick with a serious message about an expanding cycle of violence, social responsibility and man's alienation from what makes him human, you need to look elsewhere. While "The Machine Girl" has that, it sort of turns the message inside out and pokes hilarious fun at those sorts of movies. The "expanding cycle of violence" in this movie leads to the creation of the Yakuza-funded, Power Rangers-like Super Mourner Revenge Squad made up of the parents of the Ninja and bullies that Ami and Miki kill. and Ami's alienation from her kinder self gets her an ally in Miki AND a machine gun that shoots enough rounds in a second to cause a human body to evaporate into a fine red mist.

For what is perhaps the goriest movie of the decade just past, as well as a hilarious send-up of Japanese action flicks, check out "The Machine Girl"! Just don't expect to eat dinner while watching it.

The deadliest of blogathons....