The Machine Girl (Kataude mashin gâru) (2008) Review
Written by: skfan
By now if you haven't seen a trailer or heard about the Japanese' extreme gorefest "The Machine Girl" then you've probably been living under a rock. With the help of some viral marketing and one of the most bloodiest trailers ever, the film has gotten quite a lot of attention certainly within the horror community but even to some extent outside of it and into the more mainstream. Its also clear from the opening scene that director Noboru Iguchi had bigger intentions then just making another cheap J-gorefest and its obvious he think his film can crack into the west and become successfully outside of his own country. The most important question I think everyone wants to know and I certainly had going into watching the film was, "does it live up to the hype, is it really as gory as the trailer would have you believe?".
After watching it I think its safe to say that yes, it does live up to the hype. "The Machine Girl" is easily one of the bloodiest, goriest and violent, in an over the top sort of way films that I've seen in a long time. That being said though the film does have it's downsides and the production values are a lot lower then they should be but in the same regard it's also one of the few films I've watched that can solely stand up on it's gore elements alone. The storyline of the film is about as bare bones as you can get but in a film like this, a simple revenge plot can work well since it leaves a lot of creative space for the filmmakers to work on the look and style of the film rather then an over complicated plot. The film opens with a teenage boy being picked on in a warehouse by a gang of punks. Suddenly a beautiful young girl in a little school outfit appears. She would look like any other teenage girl besides one noticeable difference, she only has one arm. Where her other arm should be, there is a multiple barreled machine gun that has been strapped onto her remaining stump. It doesn't take long for the girl to take care of the gang in what is probably one of the goriest opening sequences ever in a film. Once she is finished the girl explains through a narrative that her name is Ami and that she used to never believe in violence at all.
At this point it flashes back and the rest film is told in in a flashback that explains how she has gotten to the point she. It turns out that Ami was just an ordinary kind teenage girl that did well in school and liked sports. She lived alone with her younger brother and they clearly had a tight bond and looked out for one another. Their parents killed themselves after being accused of being murderers and Ami will do anything to make sure that her little brother is always safe. Her brother on the other hand has gotten himself into a lot of trouble and now his friend and him owe a large amount of money to a group of highschool bullies. The leader of the group just so happens to be the son of a Ninja-Yakuza boss. When he doesn't get his money he kills Ami's brother and his friend and makes it look like two suicides. When Ami finds her brothers diary though she realizes that her brother was killed and sets out to find who killed him and bring the evidence to the cops. When she starts going to the houses of some of the young boys she thinks may be connected with her brothers death she isn't exactly welcomed. When she confronts one of the families they actually try and kill her to protect their son and she is badly burned before she gets away. This seems to put sweet little Ami over the edge and that night she returns to the home and kills all three family members. At this point is where the film seems to kick up another gear and by the time Ami gets her arm sliced off, replaces it with a machine gun (and later a chainsaw as well) and gets a couple of allies for her final attack the film has reached a level of crazed pace and has reached points that are so over the top you can't help but feel excited because its so rare to see these days. The film certainly isn't without it's glaring flaws though and the biggest one and probably the most surprising is the lack of skill that Noboru Iguchi seems to have for directing. Iguchi had limited experience in filmmaking before he did this film but if there is one thing we have come to expect from Japaneses filmmakers, it is well choreographed and seamlessly shot fight sequences. In this film however, the choreography is absolutely terrible.
The fight scenes seem very slow and poorly edited and its clear to see that the actors aren't hitting each other when they fight. It was a shock to me how amateurish and bad it looked since even in lower budget Japaneses action films the fight scenes are usually the highlights of the film and are breathtaking. The bottom line though is in a film like this the success rest completely on the filmmakers' ability to deliver the effect and gore and at least the latter half they did. The problem though is that they did not solely rely on practical effect. Instead there were a lot of scenes where they would mix in CGI in with the spraying blood and gore. Thats where the problem rest. With a low budget like this film, its obviously hard for them to get good CGI work but if they couldn't they should have just stuck to the real stuff. At times the poor CGI, which is on par with the stuff done on SCI-Fi channel in the 90's ruins scenes and takes away from the strong practical effects. The practical effects are what the film is worth watching for and it is pretty impressive what they managed to get on screen. None of the gore is disturbing or even gross because its so over the top but its certainly entertaining. Just out everything imaginable for gore is in here. You got body parts put in boiling water, fingers, hands, arms and just about every other limb and body part cut off in graphic detail.
Then there are numerous scenes of people being torn apart by a machine gun, a flying guillotine,chainsaw and even a drill bra. I could go on forever about the death scenes and the weapons but it something that you just need to see for yourself. Although acting doesn't really matter in a type of film like this it is important for the lead in this case Ami to be at least a likable character that you can get behind and want to see get her revenge. In this case Minase Yashiro as Ami is perfect. Yashiro is an absolutely beautiful young women and its really surprising that this is her first role in film or tv. She has a certain charisma about her and had a perfect look for the camera and I'm sure we'll see her in more films in the years to come. As for the rest of the cast no one else really stood out, nor were they expected too but for the most part everyone seemed to be doing a pretty good job and it was clear that they were having fun making the film Overall even with it's downsides I'd still highly recommend "The Machine Girl", it certainly isn't one of the best films in the sub-genre or even a real standout but its a hell of a lot of fun and refreshing breath of fresh air from the redundant genre films being released in North America these days.