“The Machine Girl” was always destined for cult fandom due to the simple fact that it revolves around a cute Japanese schoolgirl with a machinegun arm, who goes out for revenge against the bullies and yakuza who killed her brother. With an unbeatable premise such as this, the quality of the film itself is to an extent a moot point, though thankfully director Noboru Iguchi (“Sukeban Boy”) does put in some effort and the end result is a cut above most other low budget Japanese gore fests. Originally released in 2008, the film has unsurprisingly proved massively popular with fans of Asian exploitation cinema, and now finally arrives on region 2 DVD via Cine Asia Extreme.
The plot follows a schoolgirl called Ami (Minase Yashiro), who takes care of her younger brother after their parents are framed for murder and commit suicide. Although Ami has sworn off violence, when a particularly nasty gang of bullies kill her brother and his friend she swears revenge. Unfortunately, the thugs turn out to have yakuza connections, and she is kidnapped, tortured and has her arm cut off. Barely escaping with her life, Ami takes refuge with the parents of her brother’s murdered friend. The mother, Miki (played by Japanese porno actress Asami) agrees to join her on her quest for vengeance, and the father helps by making her a replacement machinegun arm, which comes in very handy as the two women face down hordes of gangsters and ninjas.
“The Machine Girl” is a film which delivers exactly as promised, with director Iguchi quite literally painting the screen red, revelling in the almost nonstop violence. The gore certainly comes thick and fast, with plenty of chainsaw and sword action alongside the bloody hails of bullets. Obviously, the film is not for the faint of heart, though while brutal, the splatter is inventive rather than sadistic, and plays out more like a hyperactive cartoon than some of its crueller and nastier Japanese peers. Although not as wildly creative and far out as “Tokyo Gore Police” (which Iguchi also worked on, directing the amusing faux-television adverts), there are some hilarious and memorable scenes including one with a drill bra that has to be seen to be believed and an appearance by everybody’s favourite decapitation weapon, the flying guillotine. The film is a great deal of fun and wisely doesn’t take itself too seriously, and though the amateurish acting does grate somewhat and the pace tends to sag away from the action scenes, it makes for incredibly entertaining viewing.
On the downside, the budget was obviously low, and the shot on video production values are pretty shoddy throughout. Some of the gore effects are fairly primitive, and a lot of the CGI effects appear to have been created using a home computer. Still, it seems a little mean to dwell on such relatively minor shortcomings, and Iguchi’s direction is kinetic and fast moving enough to distract from the less impressive aspects of the film.
Certainly, “The Machine Girl” is a must-see for all fans of Japanese exploitation, and indeed of ultraviolent cinema in general. Well deserving of its cult status and wacky, blood-soaked fun from start to finish, it stands as one of the most enjoyable films of its kind in recent years, suggesting that Iguchi may be capable of great things with a little more money to spend.
Noboru Iguchi (director) / Noboru Iguchi (screenplay)
CAST: Minase Yashiro … Ami Hyuga
Asami … Miki
Kentaro Shimazu … Ryûji Kimura / Kimura gang boss
Honoka … Violet Kimura
Nobuhiro Nishihara … Sho Kimura
Yûya Ishikawa … Suguru Sugihara
Ryôsuke Kawamura … Yu Hyuga
Nahana … Masako Fujii