Black Angel 2 (Japan 1998)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 2/9/02
Written and Directed by: Takashi Ishii
Cast: Yuki Amami

An unrelated sequel to "Black Angel" (1997), this is a story about a different female assassin named Mayu (Yuki Amami) who goes by the professional nickname "Black Angel." The film opens with a hit that goes terribly wrong and leaves an innocent woman's husband fatally shot. Mayu, the widow, and the intended target's bodyguard get involved in a tangled web of friendship and revenge that can only end in despair.

Imagine if the "Zero Woman" (1995) films didn't suck, and you might end up with a film like this. This film is a noticeable improvement over the original "Black Angel" in every way, except that adorable Riona Hazuki is absent. Director Ishii's style and execution is much more thoughtful and mature, and the film is dark, gritty, and intense. An excellent girls with guns outing, and Ishii does a wonderful job of using violence as an expression of personal anguish. Pretty Yuki Amami handles the role of Mayu with quiet courage and unflinching intensity. She's a tormented soul and a cool professional killer, although some of her hand-to-hand combat comes across as a little weak. The film has exactly one completely absurd scene in which Mayu takes a couple of guns out of her freezer and puts them in the microwave to thaw them out. What the?!? Other than that, if you're a fan of female action cinema, this is definitely a worthwhile film to check out.