The Machine Girl
2008, Tokyo Shock
By B.C. Kowalski
There’s gore, and then there’s gore.
In the case of the 2008 film The Machine Girl, there’s gore, more gore and gore gone wild.
The Machine Girl, a film largely about revenge, is certainly not for the squeamish. Coming from someone who laughs at splatterfests like Grindhouse and the Freddy and Jason movies, this film put this critic drooling in the corner for a few days.
At first, The Machine Girl starts out looking like a simple revenge movie. We all know the formula — peaceful life, interrupted by tragedy, reinvention of the hero into a badass killing machine, revenge is served — and indeed that looks like it will be the case for Ami Hyuga (Minase Yashiro), who opens the film machine gunning (with a machine gun attached to where her arm should be) some high school thugs while opining about her lost brother.
But The Machine Girl isn’t going to let its heroin, or us, for that matter, off so easily. The film goes from a story about bullying, to an “accidental” murder, to a sister’s quest for justice. When appeals to the police and parents of the offenders are met not only with indifference but murderous intent (one family tries to kill her with a golf putter and a tempura frying vat), her quest for justice turns into a quest for vengeance.
Indeed, things get worse for Ami. After trying to take revenge on the main culprit, the son of ruthless Yakuza leaders (the mom of the family is shown in one scene punishing a maid for spilling water — by beating her to death), she is captured and tortured — eventually leading to her arm being cut off (very brutally).
Ami, however, escapes the compound after foiling a sex-crazed guards attempts to molest her, and makes her way to the guardians of her son’s friend, also killed in the same inceident. The two run a shop, and replace her arm with the machine gun seen on the film’s cover, nurse her back to health and join in the revenge scheme. Ultimately, Ami and her new ally will stop at nothing to get revenge on the awful Yakuza family.
If The Machine Girl fails in any way, it’s that it’s not brutal enough — to the films villains, that is. After all the torment this girl is put through, standing virtually alone in the world, the one solace the viewer can hope for is sweet revenge. The payoff of a revenge flick is of course the said revenge, and with the cruelty of the Yakuza family (maybe the worst I’ve seen in a film), any audience would expect a pretty tall order of payback.
It’s not likely giving anything away to tell that she does in fact get revenge; however, it’s disappointing that it ultimately comes in so weak. Ami accomplishes the task, but not with the same brutality and triumphant success that by now the viewer would be craving. The tall order of revenge needed to offset the brutality to the film’s heroin is very lightly fulfilled.
The Machine Girl will certainly please audiences craving the type of gore seen here and in films like Tokyo Gore Police, though in terms of the revenge flick, the film comes crawling across the finish. Those sensitive to violence against women will do well to rent something else.
To see a trailer for the film, click: Here!