Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’m not going to hate on director Gregory Hatanaka’s bizarre film ‘Mad Cowgirl’ too badly, even though I didn’t care for it much.  Actually I kind of hated it, but it did dare to be different in sea of sameness.  Now was it trying to be different and weird just for weirdness sakes?  I don’t think so, but that still doesn’t make this thing any more coherent or entertaining.

Sarah Lassez plays Therese, a meat inspector who is dealing with an issue or two.  Therese’ Chinese French speaking mother is dying in a nursing home, though I don’t think Therese has a drop of Chinese blood in her, but this is the kind of film that this is.  Therese also engages in some seriously destructive sexual behavior with various individuals who include televangelist Pastor Dylan (Walter Koenig), her brother Thierry (James Duvalle) as well as her ex-husband Charlie (Vic Chao).  Worst yet it seems that Therese has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor caused by her incessant consumption of beef products, including beef products tainted with Mad Cow Disease.  By the way, this film takes place in Canada whose main exports are bacon and dirty ass beef products.

Therese also has a fondness for chop-sockey films, in particular the fictional ‘Girl with the Thunder Kick’ series.  Again amidst this films strangeness, Therese meets Gail (Katie Weaver) who is the physically abused star of the films, whilst at church going to confession.  These two also engage in a sort of rotten ass Canadian beef loving relationship too.  By about now the tumor (It’s not a tumah…) has begun to effect Therese’ good judgment and she has been told by some Kung Fu dude that to survive, or die with honor or something, she must defeat the Ten Tigers of the Kwanglung.  Therese has identified these ten tigers and proceeds to slaughter them.  Understand that the way I’m telling you this information, as strange as it may seen, is actually a thousand times stranger to watch.  This is just a simple description with the vast amounts of strangeness stripped away, so that I can tell you what this thing is about in a way to help myself understand what this  might be about.

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes when I settle down to watch meself a film it may spark something within the first 60 seconds which will convince me that I’m going to like this or hate this.  For instance with the Korean monster flick ‘Gwoemel’ (The Host), just from the opening scene I pretty much knew I was going to like that movie, and now it’s up to the filmmakers to lose me at this point.  The filmmakers of ‘The Host’ didn’t let me down, but to quote my beloved older brother “How bad can a monster movie with ‘Orientals’ be?”  Same thing with ‘Mad Cowgirl’.  Just from the films start, with stark washed colors and stylish editing and clever presentation I figured I’m going to like this film, and it’s pretty much up to the filmmakers to lose me.  Sadly, Hatanaka and his crew lost me as it just got too weird and too esoteric to keep involved in its off center narrative. 

There are two things, as far as I can tell, that director and co-writer Gregory Hatanaka really likes, and those are Kung Fu movies and pornography.  Can’t be mad at him too much about that.  With references to various classic Kung Fu movies, including one of my faves in the ‘Master of the Flying Guillotine’, and all kinds of pornographic references and cutaways, I kind of dig where he’s was going with his film but it simply didn’t come together in a coherent way for me.  There are also two things that bother this guy to no end, and those would be, I assume, religion and the Canadian Beef Industry as they are the ‘bad guys’ in this thing I suppose.  But again, it was such a jumbled mish mash, I truly didn’t understand where he was going with this. 

Actress Sarah Lassez seemed to understand what was going on and as Therese she gives a very hard, wired, edgy performance which by itself is worth seeing.  Also, Walter Koenig of Chekov fame is probably the most fit dude over seventy that I’ve ever seen.  I’m mean dude is like older than my dad which makes him more ancient than the Mayan ruins.  I’m certain if I had a chance to speak to Gregory Hatanaka he could explain to me in the most minute detail what he was trying to say with every frame of his film as he seemed to have a specific purpose, just one I didn’t get 90 percent of the time.  ‘Mad Cowgirl’ is a films that I admired, had a great look and lots of style to it as well as some sizzling performers, but I’d be lying to you if I said I liked it.  If you’re a little smarter than me, which is probable, check it out.  It just may change your life.

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