JAPAN 2010 Directed by: Noburo Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi Written by: Noburo Iguchi, Jun Tsugita Produced by: Yoshinori Chiba, Gen Sato, Toshiki Kimura Cinematography by: Shu G. Momose Editing by: Yoshihiro Nishimura, Takeshi Wada Music by: Kou Nakagawa, Takashi Nakagawa Cast: Yumi Sugimoto, Yuko Takayama, Suzuka Morita, Tak Sakaguchi, Kentaro Shimazu, Asami, Chiharu Kawai, Maiko Ito, Kanji Tsuda, Naoto Takenaka, Cay Izumi
I wasn’t too impressed with Noburo Iguchi’s MACHINE GIRL a few years back, albeit it being one of the better of the never-ending Japanese low-budget gore movie productions. The only inventive aspect of MACHINE GIRL was the machine gun arm, and that idea looked better on Rose McGowan in Robert Rodriguez’ PLANET TERROR.
As for MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD, Mr. Iguchi and his fellow co-directors have taken a fairly different road: instead of relatively straight-forward action the movie features a blend of fantasy, horror and SciFi, as well as elements from mangas or the chanbara genre, resulting in a much more imaginative and creative movie.
The story about Rin, a high school student who on her 16th birthday finds out that she is a half-mutant and soon after finds herself in the middle of a war between mutants and anti-mutant soldiers, is of course a hotchpotch of motifs and ideas from various genres and well-known movies, yet MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD manages to fabricate a number of plot threads that kind of add up to a very good excuse for the mayhem that follows.
Most of the creativity, that shouldn’t be surprising, was invested into the characters, the action sequences and the weaponry. And this time they are getting ahead of Mr. Rodriguez: breasts boasting samurai swords, chain saws growing out of butts, phallic weapons of all kinds, genre fans most definitely get their money’s worth. All these ideas may not be new to Japanese cinema that has seen it all before this way or another, but it turns out that the accumulation of tasteless details has its appeal if you are one of the less easily offended moviegoers.
Whereas the production value, special effects quality and acting fluctuates, MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD is a good effort for a low-budget film overall and often manages to make more out of every Yen than comparable flicks. What it lacks, quite like all its peers, is a significance of any kind. MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD is pure fun, zero function. Putting it into context, I would wish for more than just visual thrills: unfortunately, the Japanese cyberpunk movement has not resulted in smarter horror flicks as its intellectual qualities have obviously never crossed over. But that’s probably too much to ask in the first place.
What is regrettable though is that there are more and more movies like MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD and less and less movies that understand how to bend genres and project meaning onto the silver screen. The Japanese B-splatter movie has become a commodity, and its sole currency is its entertainment value. With its popularity unbowed, and films like TETSUO: THE BULLET MAN disappointing many, it is not very likely that something truly surprising is going to come out of this genre any time soon. Until it does, MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD ranks fairly high among the brain-dead gore flicks.
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