The Machine Girl (Japan 2007)

Rating: **
Review Date: 2/22/09
Director: Noboru Iguchi
Cast: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Honoka

Ami (adorable Minase Yashiro) is just trying to live the life of a normal teenage girl until her younger brother Yu is killed by the son of a Yakuza boss. Then her life becomes all about revenge. The road to revenge is difficult, and when Ami loses her arm she replaces it with a custom built gattling gun. The end result is an excessively violent and laughably gory B-movie action flick with a flair for the absurd. More than anything, it reminded me of something from the 1970's in its structure, presentation, execution, and extreme bloodletting. Minase Yashiro is delightful as Ami and her transformation from cute to vengeful is inspired. Her menacing glare is a sight to behold and perfectly complements her single-minded thirst for revenge. Why can't American actresses glare with the same amount of hatred and intensity as Japanese girls? And then do it with a silly foam rubber machine gun attached to their arm... While Ms. Yashiro is awesome, she's nearly upstaged by tough girl Asami, who delivers the most energetic and physically convincing performance in the cast. She's great. And then we get super-hot glamour girl Honoka showing off her acting chops as a Yakuza bitch, proving that she's more than just a pretty face. I was pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, I never felt that the movie came together well as a whole. The plot is weak and unoriginal, and only serves as a minimal framework to string together the ridiculously gory and disgusting action set pieces. Arterial geysers dominate the effects work, and blood is thrown all over the place with reckless abandon. The fight scenes aren't particularly memorable, and overall the execution seems sloppy and sluggish. However, you don't go into a movie like this with high expectations. While the production values are pretty low, they're much better than other similar fare. It's worth noting that the film was a joint venture between Nikkatsu and Media Blasters, so the international market was definitely in mind. Overall, I'm at odds with the film. While it has several moments of delightful female empowerment and revenge fulfillment, I found the tone and attitude to be distasteful. Definitely a movie for acquired tastes only.