Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Machine Girl (2008)

This is a picture that's so damned near perfect, it's almost impossible to write a review that doesn't sound like I'm jerking off. So, I'll just keep the thing as short as possible. Let me just start by saying it's about fucking time the Japanese made a movie that didn't involve some sort of spirit left behind due to a traumatic death that somehow made it evil. I'm sick of the fucking genre and the sub genre they gave birth to; i.e., their american remakes. Machine Girl is a movie that wears it's influences proudly upon its tattered sleeve; Army of Darkness, Dead Alive, several ninja movies too numerous to name. Apparently, it even features a couple of Japanese porn stars in the lead roles (and they don't get naked!). I fucking loved every second of it.

The plot is fairly simple. Ami Hyuga (porn star Asami) is a teen aged school girl forced into caring for her younger brother Yu after their parents were falsely implicated in a murder and committed suicide. Yu is like every kid that spends his free time playing videogames. He gets picked on ceaselessly. In this case, the bully is the son of a Yakuza ninja. On one unfortunate day, Yu and his buddy Takeshi are attacked in a parking garage and thrown from the roof to their deaths. Ami is too late to save him. Now, the last remnants of her family destroyed, she vows revenge. The first attempt doesn't go so well. Ami is captured by the bully's sadistic family and tortured by his mother and father. Now, minus an arm, she manages to escape and collapses by the auto repair shop run by Takeshi's parents. Nursed back to health, and with a prosthetic limb in the form of a machine gun, Ami can seek her ultimate vengeance.

This picture is insane. The villains are despicable. The Yakuza head forces a chef to cut off his own fingers after fucking up his tempura at one point. His wife chastises him for being "too soft" and makes the guy eat his fingers as well. The violence is so far over the top that it's clearly not meant to be taken seriously. The Lone Wolf & Cub series of the 70s appears to be an influence here as geysers and geysers of arterial spray flood the screen in nearly every other shot. At one point, a head is split down the middle and appears to bloom as a flower (a possible lift from Baby Cart at the River Styx). There's a fucked up scene where the Yakuza bust into the house of Ami's friend, Yoshi. The following brief exchange takes place:

Yakuza boss: Where's Ami?
Yoshi: I don't know!
Yakuza boss stabs her in the head, arterial spray, she's dead, etc.
Yakuza boss (to his henchmen): Ok, you guys can have some fun with her. It's not often you get to plug a flower before it has bloomed.
Henchmen begin to disrobe.

Uh, ok, perhaps something was lost in the translation. Anyway, fucking awesome interrogation technique man. How can I enroll in the Yakuza school of gathering information through torture?

This is a message film through and through. It's ok to kill in the name of revenge. As Asami tells her mechanic friend (I couldn't find her name in my notes, but I did learn she's another porn star) "if you can think of a good way to get revenge without killing people, let me know." Living well is a fucking awful method of revenge. Same thing goes for that old klingon proverb. Revenge is a dish best served with gobs and gobs of warm pulsating blood and viscera.

I'm not sure how Ami became such an accomplished fighter, but luckily this movie provides a brief montage to fill in some of those gaps. There's a fantastic fight scene at the garage when Ami and her new friends are attacked by a squad of high school ninjas. The battle features lots of gaping holes and blood spray (like most every battle in this film). Unfortunately for Ami, she didn't count on the families of the now slain ninjas later seeking vengeance upon her. See, it's a vicious cycle, this violence. Best kill every fucking one.

The final battle takes place at the Yakuza compound and features a grappling decapitator (aka "the flying guillotine" aka "the executioner's blade") as well as a pretty damned sexy drill bra. You read that right. The school bully that murdered Ami's brother employs a human shield of nerds at one point and justifies it by saying "a ninja does what he must to survive." The climax is brilliant (let's just say it involves something becoming electrified in nerd pee). The whole picture is brilliant. Yes, they overused what was, at times, some pretty mediocre CGI. Yeah, I watched the dubbed version which, in my opinion, served to enhance the comic book flair. It's also available in subtitles but I was too lazy to read the night I watched it. Sure, one of the characters loses a leg and replaces it with a chainsaw (wait, that's a positive). This thing is so amazing that I can't possibly continue this review. I'm spent.


Beepy said...

This is going on my Netflix list as soon as there is an open spot. I knew I'd have to queue it the moment I saw the cover. Your review just sweetened the pot (like "Army of Darkness" and "Dead Alive" you say- whoo, baby!)

Beepy said...

Netflix agrees with me that I'll like it. They project 4 stars for my enjoyment.
(god, I must be a sick bastard.)

elmo said...

I think I have to go drip-dry...

brian said...

IMDB sucks. I've just learned that Ami was not, in fact, played by porn star Asami. Ami was played by Minase Yashiro (as far as I know, not a porn star). Still, Asami played Ami's partner in vengeance (the mechanic) who was also hot.

brian said...

like 'Army of Darkness' and 'Dead Alive' in buckets of blood and chainsaw appendages only.

Anonymous said...

Okay, it's been added to my queue and bumped up to Number 11. It would have been bumped to Number 1 but I'm currently renting "Battle Royale" and felt that a little break between violent Japanese movies might be a good idea.


brian said...

I love 'battle royale' but this should be seen first. bump it up.

Megmo Eskimo said...

Wow...any movie compared to "Army of Darkness" starring one of my fave actors (and one of the most underrated) Bruce Campbell begs a viewing. This movie actually does sound good but the whole prosthetic limb schtick was done before in a little movie called "Planet Terror." However, I guess you can never have enough women combined with machines to get your fix of auto erotica.

brian said...

Yeah, but that shtick was used long before 'Planet Terror'. I'm pretty sure 'Planet Terror' got it from 'Samurai Jack'. Also, I liked this more than 'PT'. Call me crazy.