The Machine Girl (2008)
Film: The trailer for The Machine Girl, aka Kataude mashin gâru, has these words boldly displayed across the screen: Yakuza, Ninjas, Tempura, Sushi, Chainsaws, Flying Guillotine, Drill Bra (yes, you have read that correctly) and Revenge. Now I don’t know about the rest of you, but that sounds to me like a shopping list for an Asian film that I want to watch!!!
Now just to confirm this is what I want to watch, let’s have a look at some of the visuals from that same trailer: cute Japanese girl, blood, Ninjas wearing cool red tracksuit styled outfits, blood, disembodies body parts, blood… by now you should get the idea.
Written and directed by Noboru Iguchi, The Machine Girl is a film made by the production company Fever Dreams in Japan, but with a western market in mind, with typical western-perceived stereotypes of Japanese cinema like ninja and yakuza. Even the movie poster has the Machine Girl wearing the loose ankle socks that have not been fashionable in Japan for several years, but are still seen as very Japanese by the west. The female leads of this film are almost Meyer-esque in their single-mindedness and their drive (but not their stature) and Iguchi is clearly influenced heavily by the Sukeban flicks of the seventies (though sans any nudity), and also maybe the USA gore flicks of the 80s, if not the blood-fests of fellow countryman Takashi Miike.
The Machine Girl tells of Japanese schoolgirl, Ami (popular Gravure model and Snoopy aficionado Minase Yashiro) whose younger brother and his friend have been mercilessly tortured by the son of a local Yakuza boss, which results in their death. Ami goes on a revenge spree against the Yakuza, which finds her captured and tortured by the boss, to the point that her left arm is fully removed.
Being a tenacious lass, Ami manages to escape the Yakuza and ends up at the auto garage of her brother’s friend. His mother Miki (Asami) is mourning the loss of her only son hard, and she and her husband decide to assist Ami in her revenge, and so they create several weapons for her to be able to attach to the stump where her left arm used to be.
Now fully armed (if you’ll excuse the pun) Ami, with Miki, goes to complete her bloody revenge…
With the treasure trove of violent film staples (and then some) featured in this film, I have a name for the category it sits in: Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink-sploitation. Decapitation, dismemberment, split bodies, hot oil burns, electrocutions, blood sprays… this is a list that could go on and on! The icing on the cake is most of it is performed by a cute Japanese girl in a school uniform.
There are no doubt the special effects, some by Japanese SPFX artist Yoshihiro Nishimura are sub par, but that is more a reflection of the lower end budget rather than of the talent involved. The mutilated victims are obviously dummies, and the CGI at times sticks out like the dog’s proverbials, but this isn’t supposed to be a high concept, gigantic budgeted, Academy Award nominated piece of art. It is The Machine Girl, an ass-kicking, sexy super heroine for the Toxic Avenger set.
And I freakin’ love it!
Imagine if the guy who made The Story of Riki made a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie with a sukeban school girl as the heroine and a young Peter Jackson doing the SPFX. Yeah, it’s that crazy! Sequel NOW please!!!! There’s not much in the way of extras on this disc, but the sound options are many and varied, and the movie itself is just too much fun!!!
NB: Since writing this review I have discovered that there IS a sequel, and I am looking into acquiring it!
Extras: There are trailers for The Machine Girl and for four other Tokyo Shock titles: Heroes Two, Death Trance, Lone Wolf and Cub: The TV Series and Zebraman.
There is also a Behind the Scenes of Machine Girl which features interviews with Minase Yashiro (Ami: The Machine Girl), Asami (Miki) and Nobuhiro Nishimura (Sho Kimura). There is also a bit of special effects footage, but only of the live effects and not of any of the CGI. At only roughly ten minutes long it is not much more than a fluff piece, but I have no problem watching a bit of extra footage of the lovely Yashiro!
WISIA: It’s ridiculous and fun, but this was the first time I’d watched it in years so maybe it’s replay ability is once a decade.
I’ve seen this title pop up several times in the gore/horror genre for Japanese films and I think your review has been the final push for me to give it a go in the near future. It sounds just the right amount of revenge, cute girls, and violence for me! Thanks for giving such a through review of this!
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