Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Sight unseen it would be impossible for me to resist a movie with a title calling itself ‘Geisha Assassin’. Simply not possible. Even if they had retained the original of title of ‘Geisha Vs. Ninja’ I would still be unable to avoid it. But with a title such as ‘Geisha Assassin’ and being somewhat unaware what this movie was about before settling down to watch it, I was thinking I was going to get one of those extremely suspect Japanese exploitation flicks in the tradition of the Zero Woman series or one those terrible excuses for Japanese exploitation such as the movie ‘Cool Dimension’ or the awful ‘Ninja Vixen’ series. Hardly. No my friends what we have here with ‘Geisha Assassin’ is a hard core full blown martial arts action film. And that’s pretty much it. If ever there was a movie that is single-minded of focus, ‘Geisha Assassin’ would be that movie.

When we first meet the lady Kotono (Minami Tsukui) she is doing her Geisha dance during what I’m guessing is the feudal Japan time period. Now I’m certainly no geisha expert but she really doesn’t seem to be all that good at it. But what the hell do I know? After her performance Kotono goes for a stroll in the late night air with her wigasa in hand. However our cute geisha isn’t just wandering aimlessly, no sir, she is looking for someone and she has found this someone in the Samurai Hyo-e (Shuntaro Ito). It would appear that this Samurai killed Kotono’s father some years back and the girl has come a calling with revenge on her mind. Can’t get much simpler than that.

Though he’s not afraid of the girl, the Samurai isn’t all that interested in fighting her either, mainly because he has determined that her skills aren’t up to snuff, so he has a couple of his lower ranked underlings deal with woman as he walks off on his merry way. Well her skills might not be up to par with the Samurai Hyo-e but they are more than enough to dispatch with these clowns, and with said clowns dispatched with extreme prejudice Kotono continues her quest for revenge.

From this point ‘Geisha Assassin’ turns into something along the lines of ‘Soul Calibur’ or ‘Dead or Alive’ because before Kotono can finally reach her ultimate goal of fighting this Samurai she believes killed her father, she has to first defeat a number of foes, each increasing in difficulty, which range from flying ninjas to super strong monks to mystical zombies with detachable heads, and don’t let us forget her spirited battle with Sacagawea. I guess. Kotono would rather not fight these people who keep getting in her way, though she is curious why they keep getting in her way when none of this concerns them. Or so she believes.

But considering that this is essentially a live-action video game it is all about the Final Boss Battle, but all isn’t quite what it seems. What secrets does this Samurai hold about the death of Kotono’s father and does the lady Kotono even care what he has to say as the years of hate and a desire for vengeance have completely eaten away at her very soul.

There really isn’t much to say about ‘Geisha Assassin’ though that’s never stopped me from incessantly droning on before. The movie runs at a scant seventy five minutes with about sixty to sixty five of those minutes either dedicated to the fight scenes, walking to the fight scenes or posing after the fight scenes. Thus this is going to leave us with about fifteen minutes to squeeze in some semblance of a narrative which director Go Ohara intersperses throughout his movie mostly through flashback. If you’ve ever played and enjoyed a fighting videogame, you won’t find this particular approach all that foreign or all that difficult to get behind, because fighting games are notorious for having the sketchiest stories which only serve the purpose of bridging the beat downs, and the narrative in ‘Geisha Assassin’ is pretty much just like that.

Since the movie is 85 percent fight scenes, our hope is that they are at least decent fight scenes and thankfully the majority of them are pretty damn good. I don’t know how much of the sword fighting that actress Minami Tsukui was actually performing herself, but Ohara did a great job in at least making it look like she was doing all of the sword work. Despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that this movie was shot on a small budget the sword battles were very well done and exciting to watch, and Ohara even employed a little wire work in his film, and you know we’re a sucker for Asians flying through the forest and over rooftops. The hand to hand combat scenes didn’t fare as well with the director attempting to mask some of the deficiencies he was working with, considering the over usage of slow motion, which really only served the purpose of slowing everything down to the point where one could point out the problems with some of the accuracy with the fight scenes.

Whether or not you will enjoy ‘Geisha Assassin’ probably depends on whether or not you like martial arts flicks, fighting video games and don’t mind a story that is about as deep as a children’s wading pool. As it so turns out I like Martial Arts flicks, fighting video games and not having to think too hard so ‘Geisha Assassin’ gets a hearty recommendation from me.

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