Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Kiguchi Aya, Hasebe Hitomi, Saitoh Takumi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Asami, and Naoto Takenaka
Written and directed by Noburu Iguchi
"An Orgy of WTF"
Thus is the tagline the American distributors of RoboGeisha are using to hype this deliriously imaginative Japanese opus of "Oh my God, did I just see that?" Truer words have never been spoken. A review is almost irrelevant. One really need only watch the original Japanese trailer for RoboGeisha; how you react to what you see in that trailer is all you'll need to know whether or not you want to watch it. It is indeed an orgy of WTF and then some.
The biggest WTF of all is that RoboGeisha actually takes the time to develop a story and characters, as unapologetically preposterous as the story and characters may be, to go along with the lunacy of cyborg geisha assassins, a 50-foot tall castle robot, fried shrimp to the eyeballs, acid breast milk, wig napalm, buzzsaw mouths, armpit blades, ass sword fights, and so on and so on.
At the heart of RoboGeisha is a heartfelt story between two sisters, Yoshie, the mousy attendant to big sister Kikue, an ambitious geisha. To say that these two sisters have a love-hate relationship would be the understatement of a lifetime. I wouldn't even call it a love-hate relationship. More like some masochistic form of emotional schizophrenia that frequently erupts in violence. One second they hate each other and the next there will be declarations of loving sisterhood. These two can go from physically assaulting one another to protecting the other in the blink of an eye.
It must be said that all of the actors and actresses do a wonderful job given the supreme silliness of the material. I also have no problem recommending turning on the English language dubbing. The purposefully stupid dialogue, in many instances matter-of-fact redundant statements sounding like inner thoughts shouted aloud, will strike you as either funny or groan worthy in any language.
The sisters are abducted by the evil father and son tandem that run the Kageno Steel Corporation, a front for a sinister ultra-nationalistic plot to return Japan to its imperialistic pre-WW2 glory. By the end the plan will change to blowing up all of Japan with a super bomb. The primary means to achieving their nefarious goals is an army of highly skilled geisha assassins they use to execute lecherous Japanese businessmen, political officials, Yakuza, and anyone else standing in the company's way.
Yoshie's fighting prowess brought on by her rage stemming from her sister's constant physical and emotional abuse makes her a prime candidate for this geisha army, while Kikue is rendered little more than a slave girl forced to do odd jobs and suffer retaliatory abuse at the hands of her once put-upon sister. Sibling rivalry gets taken to the extremes when Kikue volunteers for a robotic machine gun breast augmentation. Yoshie then demands an upgrade of her own. Before long the girls are both more robot than human, both trying to prove themselves as the top robotic geisha assassin; their strange love-hate relationship fueling the drive to one-up the other even as they deny looking out for the other's well being. Again, a strange relationship. A strange movie. And I haven't even told you how the female GoblinSquad fits into all of this.
Yoshie will eventually turn against Kageno and proclaim herself the "clockwork courtesan" RoboGeisha, a superheroine determined to bring down the company, save Japan, and, most importantly, rescue her sister. That rescue will include Yoshie transforming into a half-geisha/half-tank vehicle speeding down the highway and up building walls looking like some sort of deranged Mario Kart character while a giant castle robot smashes downtown buildings like Godzilla -- buildings that spray fountains of blood upon being smashed.
An orgy of WTF. Either you want to see RoboGeisha or you don't. You are either going to have fun or you are going to question your sanity for watching it.
Just don't confuse this for the typical Troma-esque Japanese splatter comedy along the lines of Noburu Iguchi's previous over-the-top gorefests Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police. It does have elements of that mentality, though I'm more inclined to favorably compare RoboGeisha to that of a cruder, bloodier, more nonsensical Stephen Chow film like Kung Fu Hustle. Lots of cartoonish action boasting an actual story with character development to go along with women firing ninja stars out of their asses and shotgun knee caps, as intentionally silly as that story may be, as intentionally screwy as the relationships at the center of the story may be. Compared to the anything goes for the sake of gore and more gore that was Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl, RoboGeisha is damn near subtle, as crazy as it may sound to say such a thing about a movie this off the wall.
I suspect the amount of time devoted to the story and the relationship between the two sisters might prove a detriment in the eyes of some viewers. Even I have to say that at 100 minutes RoboGeisha began to wear out its welcome a little bit. The geysers of blood being entirely CGI did not bother me in this instance but I know there are some of you that will find that a major turn-off.
Aside from some trailers, the only DVD extra is a 15-minute short film entitled "GeishaCop: Fearsome Geisha Corps - Go To Hell". This short is in ways the direct antithesis of how I described RoboGeisha two paragraphs ago. It makes zero sense, plays by zero rules, and doesn't come across as having had much thought put into it outside of just being mindless nonsense. It has a few amusing touches, but overall I cannot say I was too impressed with it.
3 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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