XX: Beautiful Hunter (Japan 1994)

Rating: **
Review Date: 3/20/02
Cast: Makiko Kuno

What starts out as a promising girls 'n' guns romp quickly dives into the all too familiar realm of Japanese erotica. Shion (Makiko Kuno) is an assassin, raised and trained by an organization in the Catholic church known as the Magnificat. When a photo journalist threatens to expose the Magnificat, Shion is ordered to kill him and retrieve the evidence. Then oddly enough, as he's pleading for his life, he confesses to Shion that he has a thing for assassins and proceeds to tear off her clothes in an attempt to seduce her. The film goes rapidly downhill from here. Confused and scared by her sexual awakening, she pushes him away and runs home to masturbate with her pistol. Okay... Like many Japanese female assassins, Shion is a little messed up in the head and her lifestyle certainly doesn't help her social naiveté. Curious to go out on a date, she tracks down the photo journalist again and they fall in love. The Magnificat is most displeased with the situation and orders Shion to kill the man or else they will kill her. Guess which way she decides to go... "Women are all the same" laments the head priest. "Once they get interested in men, they forget all about killing." Her decision leads to extended scenes of sex and torture until everyone is dead.

Well, the film never ceased to surprise and amaze me with its bizarre and absurd take on sex, violence, and religion. It'll either make you burst out laughing or shrink back in revulsion, depending on your disposition. Like most erotic thrillers, there's too much sex, rape, and torture for my tastes, and not enough action. Pretty Makiko Kuno is engaging throughout, and has the conviction and physical confidence to pull off her role convincingly. (i.e. she knows how to handle a gun and she doesn't run like a sissy) Competently made, but unfortunately it's not very interesting (unless you like watching women getting raped with cattle prods).