Review Date: 2/20/10
Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
Cast: Miki Mizuno, Mitsuki Koga
Miki Mizuno ("Gamera 2: Advent Of Legion" (1996) ) is Milly, a cybernetic killing machine who was left for dead after witnessing the brutal murder of her family. Beating all odds she managed to survive, and now she walks the road of bloody vengeance. Her targets are the notorious Jack Brothers, led by a charming Mitsuki Koga. After brutally dismembering everyone else, the final showdown with Jack (Koga) is a female action lover's delight, proving that Miki Mizuno is a very capable action actress. I was extremely skeptical at first, but she quickly made me a believer. She creates an impressive presence, performs all of her own stunts, and doesn't pull her punches. Her tough and brooding persona is a complex mixture of intensity and apathy, and her channeling of Michelle Yeoh is uncanny.
Complementing the relentless and extremely violent action are the completely over-the-top gore effects from the team that brought you "Machine Girl" (2007) and "Tokyo Gore Police" (2008). The absurdity and outrageousness of these excessively bloody effects actually validate and downplay the absurdity of Milly's personal arsenal, which includes a shotgun built into her leg and a surprising finishing move that leaves her opponent a mess of cubed meat chunks. The action is surprisingly good for a low budget Japanese film, and the performances of Mizuno and Koga are captured and edited with unexpected skill and grace. Mizuno handles her scenes extremely well and fully understands aggressive body language and physical acting. Excellent work. It makes me want to track down her other action material to see how well it stands up. The film narrative is simplicity itself, and simply chronicles the horrific demise of the Jack Brothers. Thankfully, the short 45 minute running time keeps the movie moving at a decent pace and it doesn't overstay its welcome with extraneous exposition.
At its core, "Hard Revenge, Milly" is a low budget exploitation film, but the sex, nudity, and sleaze factor so common in this genre are refreshingly absent. If anything, it's gore porn, and a vehicle for seeing how graphically brutal Milly can be when mutilating her adversaries. That said, it's an acquired taste and won't appeal to everyone, but it definitely satisfied my female action craving.