Killer Imports: The Machine Girl

Killer Imports is a regular feature on Film Junk where we explore foreign-language films from around the world that haven’t yet had their chance to shine.

The Machine Girl sounds like a bad translation for The Bionic Woman. The literal translation for the title of this Japanese movie is “The One-Armed Machine Girl,” which sounds like a female Terminator with one-arm torn off. A more accurate title for this movie would be “The Girl with the Machine Gun Arm,” or if alliteration is desired, “The Girl with the Gatling Gun Arm.” But I guess one look at the DVD cover would clear up the confusion.

I suppose this review continues my trend of reviewing movies with female protagonists. To be honest, I had not heard about this movie before I saw it at the DVD store. The DVD cover with a Japanese girl in her Sailor Moon school uniform and an arm replaced by a Gatling gun was too intriguing to pass by. There was another DVD with Japanese girls in bathing suits on the cover. The title was Attack Girls’ Swim Team Versus the Undead. I was looking for a movie that might be of interest to Film Junk readers. I settled upon The Machine Girl because the cover design was the nicest, and it sounded classier.

I think there’s a whole genre of Asian films with women whose body parts are replaced with weapons. There’s probably a psychological interpretation of this, but for adolescent boys, I think the visualization of the concept is awesomely cool if not practical. (Maybe I just made that up because a quick search of mine resulted in no other films in this genre. I can’t remember if Yo-Yo Girl Cop involved body part replacement. Perhaps there’s some anime or manga that I glanced at. There’s at least a Japanese fetish for the school girl uniform.) Apparently, the idea for the M4 carbine rifle-legged Rose McGowan character in Planet Terror popped into Robert Rodriguez’ head while he was driving. I wouldn’t be surprised if the inspiration came from the Asian genre (if it indeed exists). Or maybe Ash’s chainsaw arm in Evil Dead was the precursor of everything. Anyway, before The Machine Girl was released, it was apparently on many cult film anticipation lists.

The Machine Girl starts quickly with an action set-piece involving the Machine Girl and a gang. We get to see the machine gun in action as the opening credits play while the blood shed continues to play out. If you can’t handle the blood and gore in the first five minutes, then this film is not for you. Then the film continues before the Machine Girl has had an arm replaced. Her brother and his best friend are bullied by the son of a Yakuza member. They are both killed. In attempting to find out answers, she gets an arm sliced off. Her brother’s best friend’s parents are mechanics and replace her arm with a machine gun. There’s a ninja attack. A final showdown takes place at a Yakuza hideout.

With the Japanese preoccupation with rape, it’s nice for a change to see the girl’s vengeance brought about by the death of her younger brother. In my plot summary, I made sure not to spoil any of the inventive use of weaponry besides the machine gun arm which is hard not to mention since it’s the title of the movie. The movie plays out with one fight scene after another, so the glee in watching this film comes from seeing the variety of weapons, some common and others not so common. There is dialogue and acting, but it seemed inconsequential to the main proceedings.

With this type of movie, you have to ignore logic. And especially physics. You would think that a machine gun would trump every common weapon besides grenades and dynamite, I suppose. Oh, but these are Yakuza ninjas, so I guess they can sometimes dodge bullets. Some of the violence is simply cartoony while some seems rather realistic. Well, as realistic as I can imagine. The visuals are so overwhelming that I can’t remember the music if there is any. There is some dynamic music during the opening credits.

The movie looks like it was shot on videotape, so the colors seem muted except for the red of the blood. Maybe because there’s so much blood that the red is hard to ignore. The editing allows the camera to linger on all the visual effect and gore make-up shots. There is one nice camera shot of characters walking on a road with the background completely filled with a dense forest.

Just to let you know, I’m not into the Faces of Death video series or any other pretend snuff films. Or the real stuff either. I think I am desensitized to watching things on video. I think watching a fake or a real snuff film would be the same to me. I don’t really enjoy watching horror films to see the inventive ways that people could be killed. Real life is different. I think I would faint if someone had his finger cut off in front of me. I would definitely faint if it was my own finger. With all that said, nothing in The Machine Girl made me squirm.

Supposedly, the trailer for this film ruins many moments in the film. I watched some of the trailers and I suppose they do ruin some weird surprises, but if the trailers are supposed to attract an audience, then they do a good job.

A trailer for the sequel is already out. The sequel is called Shyness Machine Girl with the following tag line: “She’s Back. With a Vengeance.” This tag line doesn’t really make sense. There’s a different girl in the starring role, and I don’t think she’s supposed to be the same character. She already exacted vengeance in the first movie. But I suppose all these movies have a vengeance plot. Still, they could have been more imaginative with the tag line.

I watched the trailer for the sequel. She has an extra weapon. Sorry, I have to ruin it for you, because it’s so bizarre. Avert your eyes if you don’t want to know, but I’m guessing that knowing won’t ruin the movie for you. You might be guessing that it was already done in an Austin Powers movie with bullets that come out of the breasts. But no, the extra weapon is a machine gun that protrudes through her skirt and out her ass! And it retracts!

So I’m not going to recommend you see this movie even though I found it somewhat entertaining. But if you’re into fake blood, then you would be remiss to ignore this film.

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  • joe

    I thought this movie was awesome. A ton of fun and much better than the somewhat-related Tokyo Gore Police, IMO. I think most people will either love or hate it. Interesting you mention Planet Terror. I liked that one a lot, too.

    I think you would call this a B-movie and/or an exploitation movie. I’m not an expert on these terms, bu it’s probably worth mentioning. There are a lot of classic gore scenes which I loved in Machine Girl.

    (shameless plug: i have a short review on my site as well, if Reed or anyone else is interested.)

  • harry

    there’s a follow up movie called the Hajirai Machine Girl (she’s got 2 machine guns!), it’s a blast!
    http://japansugoi.com/wordpress/the-hajirai-machine-girl-stars-noriko-kijima/

  • ken

    there’s now a TV show on Japanese TV by director Noboru Iguchi called The Ancient Dogoo Girl
    http://www.japansugoi.com/wordpress/the-ancient-dogoo-girl-tv-show-stars-erika-yazawa/