Chilean writer director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza returns with another slice of what he refers to as LatinXploitation in “Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman”, following up on actioners “Mandrill” and “Mirageman” with more of the same. Having also helmed “C is for Cycle”, one of the more successful segments of the recent “ABCs of Death” (not to mention having recently wrapped editing on Eli Roth’s forthcoming cannibal opus “The Green Inferno”), Espinoza is already somewhat of a cult favourite, and is clearly a director who knows his audience, throwing in plenty of guns, violence and a heroine who spends the running time clad in not much more than a black bra and hotpants combo. Having gone down well at a variety of genre festivals, the film now hits UK cinemas in late September, followed by a DVD and Blu Ray release in early October through Clear Vision.
The plot follows nightclub DJ and videogame addict Santiago (Matías Oviedo), who has the misfortune to burst in on mob boss Che Sausage (Jorge Alis) offering a gang of hitmen a huge amount of money for taking down the titular bounty hunter and his former girlfriend, Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola). Threatened with death, Santiago’s only way out is to agree to lure her in himself, being given just 24 hours to complete the dangerous task despite his obvious complete lack of qualifications for the job.
“Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman” is as simple and straightforward as it sounds, and is certainly a film which could never be accused of miss-sold. On this score, Ernesto Díaz Espinoza really does serve up the goods, the film packing a solid amount of action into its lean, fasting moving 75 minute running time, with lots of shootouts and bloody bullet hits keeping the tempo high. The set pieces are fun and well-choreographed, and are all the more impressive for the film’s obvious low budget origins, having apparently been shot in an amazing 15 days, a fact which really does pay testimony to the talent and enthusiasm of Espinoza and his crew.
Though Matías Oviedo doesn’t make too much of an impact as the male protagonist, much less so than Espinoza’s usual star Marko Zaror, Fernanda Urrejola does a great job as Machine Gun Woman, the film thankfully painting her as an amusingly amoral and ruthless figure rather than the kind of sex object that might have been expected. Bonus points are definitely won by the film for never getting too sleazy or misogynistic, despite its premise, and similarly, though there’s a hard edge, Espinoza has the sense not to have been taking things too seriously, with some effective moments of gonzo comedy along the way.
Really, the only possible bone of contention here is likely to be the film’s style, which is an over the top mixture of down and dirty 1970s grindhouse and blockbuster videogame “Grand Theft Auto”. Espinoza goes all-out in terms of the latter, shooting much of the action in a visually game-centric manner, even going so far as to place the camera in a third person perspective behind vehicles during driving and car chase sequences in manner instantly recognisable to fans of the GTA series. On top of this, videogame addict Santiago treats his ever intensifying situation like a set of game missions, spelled out by Espinoza through on-screen text and sound effects, a trick which is repeated throughout. Whilst on the one hand this is a fairly novel way to integrate videogames and film, or possibly to comment on the obsessions of the youth of today, it quickly becomes grating and feels forced and unnecessary, distracting from the action at hand.
To be fair, the tolerance for this will probably vary between viewers according to their fondness for videogames, and annoying though it might be for some, isn’t enough to sink the film by any means. Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is clearly a very talented and driven young director, and on the evidence suggested here and by his earlier outings, one who has a particularly bright future ahead of him, especially if he manages to get his hands on a bigger budget.
“Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman” opens in UK cinemas September 27th, 2013, and arrives on DVD/Blu-ray October 7th, 2013.
Ernesto Díaz Espinoza (director) / Ernesto Díaz Espinoza (screenplay)
CAST: Fernanda Urrejola … La Mujer Metralleta
Eric Kleinsteuber … El Choro Meneses
Víctor González … Pistola Loca Loyola
Guillermo Saavedra … Chinchinero
Javier Cay Saavedra … Chinchinerito
Matías Oviedo … Santiago Fernández