Venus Ranger (Japan 2006)

Rating: *
Review Date: 8/5/19

A power hungry celestial being known as Gold Venus wants to rule Earth, so she brainwashes a bunch of Earthlings to do her bidding and sends her "goddess beasts" to suck the life energy out of helpless humans. Gold Venus's twin sister, Silver Venus, opposes her actions and imbues four teenage girls with special powers to help defeat Gold Venus. But only when their hearts act as one will they be able to succeed.

Unfortunately, it's really terrible. This is frustrating because I truly admire and appreciate what the filmmakers were TRYING to do, but the execution is so awful that the movie is nearly unwatchable. At its core, it's simply a catfight fetish film, and it clearly states up front that:

    1. Only women star in this movie.
    2. We do not use CG.
    3. We do not use stuntmen.
    4. We do not speed up any scenes.
    5. We do not allow our actors to whine.
    6. The movie is almost all action.
    7. Therefore, only action lovers may watch this movie.

To its credit, the movie maintains a serious tone and sticks to all of these assertions, but I wasn't entirely convinced that some of the masked stunt performers weren't men in drag. It's a micro budget production that's shot on video with available light and sound, so it looks and sounds like a bad home movie or high school film project. The fight choreography and cinematography are barely competent, and while the serious-minded girls are energetic and move well, they pull their kicks and punches just a little too much, and hits often miss their mark by a glaring amount. Overzealous sound effects just bring extra attention to the unconvincing moves. The pacing is challenging, and although I appreciate long and wide shots, the fights could have been tightened up and enhanced a bit with some mindful editing. Another problem is that the fights lack variety, and the girls simply go through the same dozen moves over and over. Since the majority of the film revolves around fighting, the repetition becomes tiresome and boring.

On top of all that, the writing is weak, the acting is poor, the characters aren't especially likable, the art direction is uninteresting, and the simplistic plot feels like it could have been told in half the amount of time. But I suppose the entire point of the movie is to watch teenage girls in skimpy outfits roll around on the ground and pretend to beat the stuffing out of each other. And while I'm perfectly okay with that, I just wish it had been done a whole lot better.