V-Madonna: Great War (Japan 1985)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Go For Broke
Review Date: 3/1/21
Cast: Yukari Usami

"It's better to fight and lose than to lose without fighting."

A motorcycle gang attacks a high school twice a year to steal their student funds, and the class president decides to hire a group of women to protect the school the next time they show up. The leader of "The Madonna Army" or "Secret Police" is a tough motorcycle babe named Saeka (Yukari Usami), and she recruits a firearms expert, a stuntwoman, a pro wrestler, a gangster, a prostitute, and a computer whiz. They manage to repel the first attack, but their victory is short-lived as the cruel leader of the gang craves revenge and has some unfinished business with Saeka. All of Saeka's fighters end up getting gravely beaten and tortured by the bad guys, and the remaining students barricade themselves inside the school as Leopard launches an all-out assault against them. Somehow, the women manage to recover enough to fight back, and come to the rescue in the nick of time. Unfortunately, the twist ending spoils all of the fun, but explains some logical inconsistencies within the story.

The film is a modern take on "The Seven Samurai" in a high school setting, and the fact that all of the yojimbos are women adds a fun exploitation angle. The wrestler and the stuntwoman are pretty good fighters, and their action scenes are fun to watch. Yukari Usami sees surprisingly little action, but when she finally lets loose, the results are very satisfying. It's a well-made film with decent production values, but the pacing is sluggish and it feels a bit too long. It's a hard film to find and the copy I watched was obviously cobbled together from multiple sources. What's interesting is that there are several scenes of graphic violence that come from a lower quality source or are censored altogether, which creates some frustrating continuity glitches. The film has a very strong 80's vibe that reflects the fashions and hairstyles of the time, and the soundtrack is a delightfully cheesy collection of 80's pop rock that's reminiscent of "Bubblegum Crisis" (1987).

Despite the violent nature of the movie, it has a surprising innocence and naïveté about it, which ties into the baffling epilogue. It plays out like an adolescent action fantasy, and the almost complete lack of adults in the film hints that something is just a little off. Also, the school doesn't appear to have any faculty or staff, which leaves the students entirely in charge of dealing with their attackers. Is this meant to enforce an adolescent perspective and play up the exploitation angle, or is it all just an elaborate illusion? Given all of the violence, the bad guys never resort to killing anyone, even when they have numerous opportunities to. This also plays into the surreal setting of the film and makes you question the reality of it all. While it's a fun movie to watch, it can be tedious at times and it would really help to have a better copy.