Reviewed by Carmen Potts
Starring Minase Yashiro, Asami, Taro Suwa, Ryôji Okamoto,
Directed by Noboru Iguchi
A shameless hodgepodge of Quentin Tarantino’s schoolgirl fetishes, Takeshi Miike, and early Peter Jackson, Tokyo Shock’s low-budget revenge flick Kataude mashin gâru (The Machine Girl) came barreling out of Japan’s cinematic left field earlier this year to rave reviews. Fortunately, it deserves all its acclaim – and has provided gorehounds with one of the most refreshingly uproarious, over-the-top splatter comedies ever made.
Its characters traipse through a hilariously unbelievable ultra-violent society that feels like it bled directly from a dog-eared manga. The Machine Girl exists in a world where all women wear schoolgirl outfits 24-hours a day, they can’t walk down the street without being gang raped, and their bullets remove baseball-sized chunks of flesh.
In the middle of this place – which I’ve dubbed Fightsville, Japan – we meet little orphan Ami (played by first-time actress Minase Yashiro). After her innocent younger brother and his pal are killed by the bullying offspring of a Yakuza Ninja clan (the best of both stereotypes!), our heroine modifies her remarkable basketball skills for bloody revenge.
With everything lost, Ami goes on an arterial-spraying spree that would make The Samurai Executioner gasp. Scythe in hand, she hastily dispatches a number of the responsible parties, but all too quickly her brash actions catch up with her. After being tortured by the growling leader of the Yakuza Ninjas, Ami loses an arm … and seven or eight gallons of blood.
Our three-limbed sexpot miraculously escapes and stumbles across two ace mechanics whose son just happens to have been killed alongside her young brother. With their hesitant support, Ami’s quickly sewn up and outfitted with an enormous made-from-scratch Gatling gun arm. From the moment she snaps it on and teams up with a chainsaw-wielding cohort (portrayed by too-cute-for-porn adult film actress Asami), The Machine Girl becomes a bullet-riddled explosion of gore that doesn’t let up until the film’s final shot.
For all of its hilariously unbelievable scenarios, The Machine Girl does have a few minor logistical faults that come off as somewhat awkward, even in this sadistic alternate reality. After being outfitted with her new gun arm (whose fingerless trigger is never explained), the mechanics who gave it to her then proceed to train young Ami how to fight. Say what? In the previous scene, the girl was nimbly dodging a barrage of throwing stars and killing Yakuza Ninjas left and right. Now the grease monkeys want to show her how to do it … correctly?
Later, the audience is actually supposed to worry about a central character that also loses a limb since a baddie dastardly claims, “She’ll die from blood loss within minutes!” How should this be considered a concern in Fightsville, Japan, when a minor cut immediately espouses at least two gallons of the red stuff? Pushing the viewer to suddenly worry about blood loss in a film like this seems not only trivial, but unintentionally hilarious.
Thankfully, there is far more to praise than decry in Noboru Iguchi’s nonsensical splatstick masterpiece. The action comes fast and furious, starting with the movie’s wonderfully retro opening title sequence, and rarely lets up. The characters are all stereotypes with the good being near angelic and the bad practically spewing flames every time they open their mouths. The main bully persistently adorns himself in a leopard skin jacket with purple liner, which all but screams to be caked in gore.
As Ami’s stump pulls the unseen trigger of her gun arm for the thousandth time, you’d think you’d grow tired of watching people reduced to red mist. Thankfully, the gooey demises stay extremely varied, and somehow each bullet seems to have a different gruesome effect. When a ninja is shot so many times, the skin on his head flies off, exposing his wide-eyed screaming skull; you know you still haven’t seen it all.
Fans of torture porn and hardcore horror aren’t going to scoop much enjoyment out of this gorefest, but those who yearn for a return of Dead Alive-style entertainment, with just a touch of Kill Bill thrown in, simply won’t believe their senses. If you fall into that second category, The Machine Girl isn’t just recommended viewing – it’s required.
4 out of 5
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