More low budget Japanese mayhem arrives in the form of “Hard Revenge Milly” and “Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle”, originally released a couple of years back and now slicing their way onto region 2 DVD as a double bill via Cine Asia. The two were written and directed by Takanori Tsujimoto, who also worked on “Ghost in the Shell” legend Mamoru Oshii’s sword fighting omnibus “Kill”, along with Kenta Fukasaku (“Battle Royale 2”, “X-Cross”) and Minoru Tahara.
Both feature Miki Mizuno (“Carved”) in the titular lead role, and revolve around the usual tales of revenge and spurting geysers of blood. The films should also be of particular interest to aficionados since the special effects were provided by Yoshihiro Nishimura, quickly becoming one of the best known figures in the Japanese gore business, having worked on key genre hits “The Machine Girl”, “Tokyo Gore Police”, and more recently “Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl” and the awesome “RoboGeisha”.
First up is “Hard Revenge Milly”, which takes place in a vaguely apocalyptic Japan, and which begins with Mizuno slicing up an opponent while a voice over informs the viewer that her life has been consumed by revenge. After the poor fellow has been gruesomely dispatched, Milly wanders around a familiar looking warehouse set, while flashbacks depict her family being killed by the notorious Jack Brothers, and of her being saved from death and given a new, murderously mechanical body. Having finally tracked them down, and with the dismembered corpse at her feet being one of their siblings, she waits for them to turn up for a cathartic, bloody showdown.
Clocking in at just 45 minutes, “Hard Revenge Milly” is the very definition of back to basics, efficient film making. The film breaks down neatly into 5 minutes of action, followed by 20 minutes of back-story, and 20 minutes of climatic battle. The plot itself is instantly recognisable, as is the film’s central motif of a gorgeous leather wearing young woman with a cyborg body that boasts all manner of wacky and deadly surprises. Although it does drag during the rather needless middle sequence, when the action kicks in again it is of a higher standard than usual for the genre, with some real substance to the fighting.
The final duel itself is kinetic and exciting, with Tsujimoto proving himself a talented director with a far better feel for carnage than he does for human drama. The film was obviously a fairly low budget affair, though he makes good use of his limited resources and manages to give it a polished and more professional look than other shot on digital productions. The revenge theme is taken surprisingly seriously, and as a result the film is more sombre than the likes of “Tokyo Gore Police” and its surreally grotesque brethren, though it still packs in plenty of splatter gags, with lots of severed limbs, decapitation and entertainingly nasty money shots thanks to Nishimura’s excellent special effects.
“Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle” is a little longer at an hour and 10 minutes, though is pretty much more of the same. There is a slight variation in the plot, with Milly taking under her wing a young girl called Haru (Nao Nagazawa), who is seeking justice after the murder of her boyfriend. Tsujimoto does push things further into “Mad Max” territory, with even more musings on revenge and mutterings on the nature of strength.
Again, this gives the proceedings a slightly less wacky feel, though this does help the film to stand out somewhat from the crowd, even managing a little in the way of character development. The structure is similar, with most of the action being confined to the opening and closing stages, though this time with the middle section being a little punchier thanks to some reasonable training sequences. When the blood does begin to fly, it does so with impressive abandon, and there are several stand-out moments of Nishimura’s effects work.
This, coupled with the harder, more serious edge of both films means that both “Hard Revenge Milly” and “Hard Revenge Milly: Bloody Battle” do offer something slightly different, and that they should go down well with genre fans. Whilst either of the two films on their own would be a pretty slim offering, the double bill makes for good value, providing nearly 2 hours of mayhem.
Takanori Tsujimoto (director) / Takanori Tsujimoto (screenplay)
CAST: Miki Mizuno, Tetsuya Nakamura, Hiroshi Ohguchi, Rei Fujita, Mitsuki Koga, Masahiro Kômoto, Nao Nakazawa