After watching Tokyo Gore Police I got talking about it, and how terrible it is, at work. My colleague Gareth is a bit of a Japanese film hound and loved it. So he’s lent me a few other movies. None of the epic scale of TGP, as far as I can tell, but potential cheese (and one genuinely good). So expect a few reviews over the next couple of days/week. And even though 3 of them are Japanese craziness don’t think that’s all I watch, it’s just the way things have worked out.
So The Machine Girl. Ami looks after her younger brother after their parents commit suicide due to being accused of a murder they didn’t commit. He’s bulled by the son of a local Yakuza, a complete psychopath, who kills him and his friend. So Ami seeks revenge. Spoiler spoiler spoiler, arm cut off, machine gun arm.
Yes, spoiler spoiler spoiler. This film actually has a coherent plot. A bit of a red herring start though. In the beginning we see Ami with her machine gun arm saving a random boy from bullies. She then flashes back to how it all began, when she was a normal girl, and we see what leads her to that start point. But not directly. The two don’t sink up. Think of that opening as being a scene from The Machine Girl 2. Otherwise you’ll be a bit frustrated waiting for it to get to that point and it never will. It’s not a quick burn either, I don’t think she becomes The Machine Girl until about two thirds in.
The film was obviously made for about 30 quid. They use some CGI and lighting effects which are on the cheesy side. The gore is no where near TGP but there is a standard Japanese massive jet of blood motif all over. If you aren’t very good with blood and guts you may have a minor issue, but if you don’t mind some you’ll have no trouble. There’s a lot of cutting away, cut back and someone is severely injured moments. They do alright with what they have though. Her machine gun arm also doesn’t rotate which was a shame. It looks like it was built in a garage, but it was so that’s okay.
Same with the acting. A LOT of cheesy moments, some good. No one hear went to RADA. Some of the dialogue is what you would expect from some chop socky too. In fact it pays homage to those films a few times, there are a few moments where they introduce named gangs of baddies and there’s the “sword being drawn ching” sound effect. So tongue is squarely in cheek for much of the film.
I’ll do the final comments bad then good so I can end on a high note as this was enjoyable. The amount of disrespect for ninja’s in this film is pretty damned bad. I know, I’m a gaijin and the film makers are Japanese. WHATEVER. I have friends who practice Ninjutsu, and I’ve seen and read enough to know that they should have honour and be worthy of respect. I was also pissed of that the Yakuza psychopaths were supposed to be descendants of the legendary Hattori Hanzo. This all struck me as disrespectful as hell and completely unnecessary.
On the flip side, there’s actually quite a clever thread through this on how pointless and cyclical revenge is. Whether it’s intentional or not I don’t know. Minor spoilers here but it shouldn’t ruin enjoyment of the movie. Ami is brought together with the family of her brothers friend who was killed along with him by their need for revenge. It’s that family that sets her up with a machine gun arm, and she goes in to battle with the kids mum, Miki. Ami and Miki kill a gang who attacks them under Yakuza command. The parents of those gang kids then end up forming a gang to stop Ami and Miki. See what I mean? Admittedly this cycle would end quickly as there is no one to avenge Ami and Mikki BUT it just goes on. Everyone is fueled by their need to get revenge. It’s subtly handled but quite clever.
OR I’m just reading in to it.
Either way, The Machine Girl is a rather fun film with a coherent if sometimes a bit dodgly done plot, pretty crap effects and plenty of chop socky type action. If you like a bit of that turn off all but the subtitle reading bit of your brain and have a fun 90 minutes. I did. Not a fantastic film, but decent enough craic.