Thursday, February 3, 2011


I hope I’m not revealing any trade secrets here when I mention that Japan is a pretty weird place. It’s something that permeates pretty much every aspect of their lives, from people paid to forcibly shove as many people as possible onto Tokyo subway trains, to vending machines that sell used panties (and I seem to recall reading about them having talking toilets too, which is just gross). Unfortunately, while the nation’s natural bizarreness is pretty endlessly fascinating, it can sometimes become much less so in their movies when they realize their inherent strangeness and decide to actively ham things up and go “Oh, look at how very strange and wacky we are here!” while jumping up and down and waving their arms around. That’s pretty much what we wind up with here.

I confess that I wasn’t paying the closest possible attention to the plot, what little there was of it, but here’s what I managed to piece together today while trying to recall last night: Yoshie is the largely unloved sister of famous geisha who, after showing off some impressive fighting skills, is recruited into the world of geisha assassins, led by Kageno, a big steel businessman. He’s a man with a plan, you see, a plan for raising up an army of geishas, replacing parts of them with machinery so they can be a deadly force to assassinate politicians, and then turning his castle into a giant robot to menace the city. Just your average Thursday in Japan.

Now, I do normally like when my movies get pretty over-the-top, don’t get me wrong. The thrill of craziness is kind of lost, however, when the film is constantly mugging at us as though writer/director Noboru Iguchi (who previously directed The Machine Girl, which I also thought was overrated) was some kind of Japanese Andy Dick. It isn’t enough, say, for a geisha girl to turn around in battle and start shooting shuriken out of her ass. No, we also have to get an over-the-top reaction shot from her victim screaming “From her ASS????” because we just wouldn’t have known this was crazy otherwise. The whole movie is like that too. It sets up a bunch of big moments that could potentially be fun and wild, and then oversells everything until they all just lie there dead.

There’s also a pretty big problem with the CG here. I don’t have a problem with huge blood sprays, obviously, but I do have a problem with CG blood that just looks like it might have come straight out of some mid-90s video game. There’s also the problem of the poor editing connected with it. You’ll get scenes of someone opening fire with a machine gun or a rifle or some such nonsense, then it’ll cut to whoever is getting shot to death as a massive spray of CG blood comes spurting off of them, and then the camera lingers just barely long enough for the blood to partially finish spurting so that we can see the victim’s shirt isn’t even torn, and then we cut back to the action. It happens several times in the movie, and it’s jarringly incompetent each time. I could almost think that it was done intentionally as a joke, except that it would be the most subtle joke in the film by far.

What we’re left with is something that could have been a fun, energetic film, if only it had been placed in the hands of a better director. Instead, we’ve got an incompetent mess, where all the jokes are oversold, all the action is slapdash, and all the special effects are so cheap they would have barely passed muster in a 50s B movie. Rich, I hope you’re happy with this review, because it absolutely justifies me having been too busy with Minecraft to update the past three days.

Rating: * ½

1 comment:

katsucurrys14 said...

as long as you don't put up a minecraft review ;)