So I have this DVD for the movie ‘The Machine Girl’ and I decide to watch it on my 27" Magnavox before I go to bed. After the rather inspired opening sequence I stop and eject the DVD and say to myself ‘This simply will not do’. I get out of bed and take the DVD downstairs where the projector is setup broadcasting on 102 inches while blurting out it’s audio in bombastic 5.1 surround. Much better. Ain’t nothing wrong with watching a movie on a 27" Magnavox… I mean I’ve had that TV for close to sixteen years now so it’s basically a member of the family, but sometimes a movie DEMANDS, if at all possible, better presentation and ‘The Machine Girl’ was certainly that movie.
Our Japanese language film opens with some schoolboy thugs picking on a poor geek when they get a visit from schoolgirl Ami (Minase Yashiro) who really, really hates bullies. They ask her politely to leave, she refuses, they try to get rough and she shows them her missing arm which apparently makes their blood run cold as they know something that we don’t. What they already knew that we know now is that stump houses an automatic machine gun and Ami proceeds to mercilessly and brutally murder every last one of them, to the absolute horror of the boy being bullied. Standing over the bloody mess Ami would tell us that she wasn’t always a murderess, and she also used to have a right arm… but that was six months ago…
You see Ami was just your young typical college girl, though she looks like fully grown woman stuffed in a school girl outfit to me, who is caring for her younger brother Yu since the tragic deaths of their parents. What Ami doesn’t know is that Yu and his best friend Takeshi are being mercilessly bullied by Sho, who also happen to be the son of a brutal Yakuza mobster who also happens to be a descendent of legendary Samurai and sword maker Hatori Hanzo. Truth be told this brutal psychopath is actually the ‘kind’ parent as Sho’s lunatic of a mother makes Jason Vorhees mom look like Claire
Huxtable. So we have Yakuza, grown women in school girl outfits, and samurai with the only thing left to complete this quadrilogy being a Ninja… oh, there they go. Tragically Sho and his gang murder Yu and Takeshi, and though it is initially ruled a suicide, once Ami reads Yu’s diary she knows the truth and will seek her revenge.
First though Ami tries to get justice by going to the bully’s parents, which gets her arm dipped in tempura batter and fried for her trouble, and thus opens her eyes to reality of the situation leading to her to commit murder. All she really wants though is Sho to die, and a failed assault on the Yakuza household results in Ami getting tortured and losing that right arm, but miraculously she escapes, though she is number one with a bullet on the Yakuza hit list of people to kill. Ami then stumbles upon the household of the late Takeshi’s parents Miki and Suguru-san who are a pair of mechanics, and though Miki is resistant at first, she agrees to train Ami for her revenge, as she is a martial arts expert, while her husband prepares her Gatling gun right arm replacement. Eventually The Machine Girl, Yakuza, Ninja’s, The Mourning Gang, and whoever else you can think of all meet in a series truly bloody bits, mayhem and nonsense in what is easily the craziest film I’ve seen this year. Perhaps this decade. Perhaps ever.
There was a scene late in this movie where Minase Yashiro’s face and hair is splattered with blood and she is talking to some bullied boys with this radiant smile plastered on her face that made her look absolutely adorable. It’s at that moment I realized what a sick person that writer / director Noboro Iguchi truly is. I had inklings that the man was cracked while watching this film, such as the ‘creativity’ he used when killing the mother of one of the bully’s. The whole knife through the back of the neck thing jutting out the mouth along with a mixture of blood, vomit and spinal fluid gushing into the rice soup was bad enough, but it was that kernel of regurgitated corn floating in the soup that really set that scene off. We call that ‘attention to detail’ where I come from.
I wish I could tell you that I was above watching this kind of stuff, but after seeing the movie posters, and particularly after seeing the trailer… I was toast. I enjoyed every brutal, exploitive, bloody strand of this nonsense to point where I wish they could find a spot to place me as an extra in the sequel. Where they could possibly put a 6’2" 250 pound Black guy who can’t act in a Japanese movie is beyond me, but I’d be down for whatever.
The movie was more than just over the top violence, despite the vast amounts of it, but it was really very cleverly written and dryly humorous. It was also surprisingly well acted by Iguchi’s odd cast which includes a star who is a swimsuit model and a couple Japanese AV actresses, which I’m told is the Japanese version of pornography, none of whom he used for any form gratuitous nudity. And the man certainly directs his Ninjas, Samurai, Yakuza, drill bra’s, dismemberments, chainsaws, decapitations, flying guillotines and other death dealing devices with undeterred gusto.
That’s not to say the movie is perfect, though I can’t think of anything bad to say about it at right at this moment, but I’m sure there’s something. Sure, ‘The Machine Girl’ may not be art… but then again, who are we to say what is art and what isn’t art. Perhaps ‘The Machine Girl’ is art. Why the hell not? I mean the movie had a flying guillotine in it and a vomited kernel of corn in rice soup. Where I come from, we call that art.