The (One-Armed) Machine Girl (2008) Movie Review

Ami (Minase Yashiro) is your typical high school student. She hangs out with her friend, plays basketball, and watches over her younger brother, Yu (Ryosuke Kawamura), who, unbeknownst to her is being bullied by the son of a yakuza and his friends. The gang extorts money from Yu and his friend Takeshi, and when they can’t produce the funds, they beat them up. But it isn’t about the money, the bully says, he just likes to watch them suffer. The situation culminates in the murder of the two youths. The police want to rule it as a suicide, but Ami knows this can’t be, especially when she finds Yu’s notebook in which he’s written a list of bullies he wants to kill.

Wanting justice, Ami takes her brother’s portrait and visits the parents of one of the bullies. First she demands the name of the bully’s ringleader. When that isn’t forthcoming, she asks the bully’s parents to do something. But instead of assuming responsibility, they attack her. Realizing that she isn’t going to get anywhere with them – the father is a police officer – she decides to “become a demon” and take revenge, with extreme prejudice. Initially, things don’t go very well, and her arm is chopped off. Near death, she is saved by Takeshi’s parents who sew up her wound, and fashion for her a Gatlin gun, which slots nicely onto her stump. With a sidekick in place – Takeshi’s mother – and plenty of weaponry, the newly coined “Machine Girl” sets off on her mission of very bloody revenge.

Written and directed by Noboru Iguchi, “Machine Girl” is a gore lover’s delight. During its 90-minute running time, the viewer witnesses a variety of inventive injuries and deaths. Just a small sample of the carnage includes a tempura-battered hand put in hot oil, nails being hammered into a guy’s face and head, knives being shoved through mouths, resulting in vomit and entrails; body parts being sliced and diced, and a ninja metal grabber that decapitates. Of course the heaviest damage comes from the gun itself, which blasts holes into bodies, strips skin off of faces, and more. Machine Girl faces some incredible foes, including a yakuza wife sporting a metal bullet bra – complete with rotating blades; junior high ninjas; and even the bullies’ grieving parents, two of them dressed in American football gear. If this sounds insane, it is. It is “Evil Dead,” “Planet Terror,” and “Karaoke Terror” all rolled into one.

We probably don’t need to talk about acting here, but it’s notable that this is Minase Yashiro’s big screen debut. She manages to be cute and crazed at the same time. (The incessant blood spatter only brings out the brown in her eyes.) Supporting actors turn in performances that range from realistic to high camp, but you come to expect that from these types of films. The special effects are surprisingly good, and will elicit groans and laughs from the audience. It’s possible that the director got a blood spraying machine at a cheap price, because it doesn’t matter what body part gets chopped, it’s queue the spray machine. Two of my favorite scenes involve the rotating metal bra and a chef whose fingers are turned into sushi. In fact, on the DVD setup, you will see the sushi fingers as options.

I’m not usually a gore fiend, but I really enjoyed “Machine Girl.” It was a tad bit long, but, for the most part, I was entertained throughout. Doing a search on Noboru Iguchi, and you discover that this is his 11th project. Unfortunately, this appears to be his only one available for purchase. (I saw it at Best Buy for $12.99.) Hopefully, interest in “Machine Girl” will prompt distribution of his earlier efforts. In summary, if you enjoy campy, hyper violent Japanese exploitation films. You would be remiss to miss “Machine Girl.”

Noboru Iguchi (director) / Noboru Iguchi (screenplay)
CAST: Ryôsuke Kawamura … Yu Hyuga
Minase Yashiro … Ami
Asami, Honoka, Yûya Ishikawa, Noriko Kijima, Kentaro Kishi, Nobuhiro Nishihara, Ryôji Okamoto, Kentaro Shimazu, Taro Suwa, Demo Tanaka, Erika Terajima, Hiroko Yashiki


Buy The (One-Armed) Machine Girl on DVD