September 11, 2013

Movie Review: The Machine Girl (2008)

How to explain a movie like The Machine Girl? You start here: a Japanese revenge flick with some martial arts and as much gore as you would find in any splatter film. Maybe more.

But that doesn't do it justice. A young schoolgirl named Ami Hyƫga is seeking revenge against the son of a Yakuza boss because the boy killed her brother. She loses her left arm to the Yakuza boss after she invades his compound. She is sheltered by the family of her brother's friend, who was also killed by the son of the Yakuza boss. Ami has her arm replaced with a Gatling gun. And then she and the mother seek revenge.

And did I mention the gore?

The Machine Girl is a pulp film in all the right ways. Lots of action and over-the-top violence. Then you add in the ridiculous carnage and you get a really good cult film.

How ridiculous is the carnage? There is one scene where the Yakuza track Ami to the family that is sheltering her. They send three ninjas after them. After an extensive fight, Ami uses the gun to blow a hole through a ninja's chest. Then she shoves the gun through the hole to blow away the other ninja. And that is one of the tamer scenes in the film.

Minase Yashiro, who plays Ami, does a good job in what appears to be her first role on film. Ami comes off as a nice girl forced to be hard as nails, which makes it easy to be sympathetic to her even as she hammers 20 nails into someone's face. And I enjoyed Kentaro Shimazu as the insane head of the yakuza family. At his core he is a father defending his son, even if he is homicidal in how he goes about it.

Even with all these compliments, it should be understood that they are made within the context of what is a pulp film. The actual dialogue is often ridiculous and a lot of the acting could be generously described as "wooden." Part of the reason for that could be the background of most of the people involved. Director Noboru Iguchi seems to have got his start in both softcore and hardcore films. Many of the actresses in this film have an adult background in film or photography. You're not exactly getting the elite in acting from that arena.

But at it's core, this is a fun little revenge flick with the gore dial cranked up to "11" the whole time. If I did number scores, I'd call it between a six and seven. For what it is, it's pretty good. It was a direct-to-video release originally in 2008. Amazon is selling it anywhere between $13-$18 right now, which is a decent price if you like these kind of films.


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