Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mutant Girls Squad (Iguchi, Nishimura, Sakaguchi, 2010)

Take three notorious Japanese film directors, add an admittedly X-Men inspired plot, mix in equal parts fake blood and latex body parts and what do you get? Mutant Girls Squad (aka Sentô Shôjo: Chi no Tekkamen Densetsu). Here we have a film conceived by inveterate madman Noboru Iguchi (Robo-Geisha, Sukeban Boy), and directed by him along with Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police, The Machine Girl) and Tak Sakaguchi (Samurai Zombie, Yakuza Weapon). The film is in three chapters, with each director taking the reins on one apiece; Sakaguchi did chapter one, Iguchi chapter two and Nishimura took on the finalé.

As "Tokyo Shock" type films go, this one is pretty standard. In an interview on the DVD, Noboru-Sensei says that he had an idea for an all girl X-Men type story. Toei Video wanted to do an anthology, but eventually it was decided to do a single film with the three directors handling a piece of the final product. It is the story of Rin (Yumi Sugimoto) who discovers on her 16th birthday that she is a mutant (or HILKO, as the film calls them) and is recruited to join the Mutant Girls Squad. There is a lot of anti-mutant sentiment in the film's Japan, and a war is brewing. As with the X-Men we know, there are factions that wish to destroy humanity, and those who hope for peace. Rin quickly proves she is one of the stronger members of the team, but is torn between her recent humanity and her newly opened eyes. The group is led by Kisaragi (Tak Sakaguchi) and his right hand, Rei (Yûko Takayama) as well as comic relief/bad ass "Cosplay Nurse Yoshie" (Suzuka Morita).

If you have seen Tokyo Gore Police, there is a lot of similarity here. Weird weapons sprouting from body parts (the "ass-chainsaw" is particularly disturbing) and odd tentacles and appendages that have inexplicably sharp edges. Lots of CGI gore to accompany the "Super Soaker" blood bath scenes. There is some good fan-service and standard digs at Japanese culture (one of the mutants activates her powers by the self-harm practice of "cutting" and even Rin has a box cutter ready for an impromptu suicide attempt). The gore is more cartoonish than horrible, so it is not as disturbing as Ichi the Killer or Tokyo Gore Police. Ultimately it is a very Iguchi-styled film, being more comically driven with some fair action scenes. The mutant extermination squad has the highly bizarre "nose machine-gun" that lets them carry swords. We get a brief bit of fighting with personal favorite Asami Sugiura as a government agent out to get the mutants.

Ultimately, this one is for genre completists most likely. There is not a lot going on here that you have not seen before. It is almost a pastiche of previous films. That is not to say it is not put together well (for the genre, at least). The directorial style changes noticeably, yet smoothly, from chapter to chapter. There are quite a few little plot-holes, but even those are foreshadowed enough to limit the "WTF?" factor. If you like the genre, you'll certainly enjoy this one. If you are new to the genre... It might not be the best choice for an introduction as, to me at least, having a familiarity with the directors' previous work enhances the enjoyment.

Rin, after her true nature is revealed.

Most useless weapon ever?

Asami leads the extermination squad.

Rin and her "treasure".

Yoshie, Rin, and Rei

Tak Sakaguchi as Kisaragi


Lisa K. said...

An Ass-Chainsaw? Way to make me jealous.
Haven't seen this one, thanks for introducing :)

Darius Whiteplume said...

You're welcome ;-)

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