Monday, June 13, 2011

ROBOGEISHA


Noboru Iguchi, 2009
Starring: Aya Kiguchi, Hitomi Hasebe, Takumi Saito, Taro Shigaki, Etsuko Ikuta

I really wish I was reviewing Machine Girl right now. Or even Tokyo Gore Police. The team behind these two superior films, director Iguchi and special effects master Yoshihiro Nishimura, also got together for Robogeisha, though I don't want to start off slamming this film, which is actually fun, cheesy, and ultraviolent despite its many flaws.

Young sisters Yoshie (Aya Kiguchi) and Kikue work for a geisha house, though the older Kikue is a practicing geisha and Yoshie is a lowly cleaning girl. There is a certain amount of rivalry between the two siblings, which only intensifies when the young, rich, and handsome president of Kageno Steel lavishes attention on both girls. Really, he just wants to kidnap them and turn them into biomechanoid assassins posing as geisha, so that Kageno Steel can take over Japan and the world. As far as action-comedy-splatter fests go, this is a pretty sound premise and only starts to unravel disastrously towards the end of the film. Yoshie and Kikue get absurd enhancements like ass-swords, armpit-swords, breast-guns, etc. And don't forget about Hell's Breast Milk.

Though Yoshie is the superior assassin, she begins to have second thoughts when she's sent to kill an innocent group of townspeople, all of whom are lobbying to have their missing daughters, granddaughters, and sisters returned from Kageno. Yoshie bonds with the group, who have their own scientists (??!) and repair Yoshie when she gets injured, also giving her further enhancements. The townspeople take a stance against Kageno and all hell breaks loose. Geisha assassins break into battle everywhere and the building turns into a giant robot armed with a bomb. And it's marching on Mt Fuji, intending to drop it in and blow up Japan.

The middle section of the film is probably the strongest. The fight scenes are fun and over the top and it's clear the actresses are having a really good time in their roles. The effects, which range from great to completely, unapologetically terrible are pretty fun even at their worst. A lot things in Robogeisha make absolutely no sense, a fact the film doesn't try to cover up or waste time being embarrassed about. It can be a little absurd, but I guess you don't rent or buy a film called Robogeisha without having some idea of what's about to happen. I recommend watching it with a lot of alcohol and like-minded fans of trash cinema.

As far as I can tell there are no domestic DVD releases yet, though there is a Japanese DVD. I'm sure it's only a matter of time, particularly because Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police did so well in the US. You can actually buy them in Best Buy, which is a little repulsive. Edit: Here's the DVD.

P.S. Anyone who's seen it... what the hell is going on with the beginning?

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