Thursday, June 17, 2010

Samurai Princess (2009)

In case you didn't know, Japanese Horror has changed since the earlier parts of the last decade. Sure, there were films like "Ichi The Killer" and the ongoing wave of Japanese Zombie flicks, but for much of the last decade, the country was largely known for it's supernatural creep fests with long haired ghost girls and mounting dread. While that was fun for a while, it eventually went the way of many fads/sub-genres of horror-yesterday's news. You can only see a pale supernatural force so much until you get bored.

So what's the new-wave of Japanese Horror at the moment? Splatter Comedy flicks. Movies that owe largely to the likes of old Troma movies, Paul Verhoeven's "Starship Troopers" and the like than they do old Japanese Urban Legends and haunted TV's or whatever. Flicks such as "The Machine Girl", "Tokyo Gore Police" and the upcoming "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl" have defined this new era, and Kengo Kaji's "Samurai Princess" is one of the latest in this new trend.

The plot takes place in an alternate universe Japan, in which a our titular heroine (adult film actress Aino Kishi) was one a normal girl. That is, until a group of rapists had their way with her friends and left her for dead. Oh, and a mad scientist has fused the souls of her dead friends, implanted them into her, and turned her into a vengeful cyborg. Wackiness and arterial spray ensues.

From the get go, "Samurai Princess" is utterly bug-fuck insane. It has chainsaw legs, wacky villainous sidekicks (the mad scientist has a gaggle of fan girl types following him wherever he goes-it's actually a lot funnier than it sounds), evil monsters, a pair of breasts that double as grenades (yes, you read that right), a man wielding a guitar that doubles as a sword and a chainsaw, and so much more. It's also shockingly funny as times, with some amusing gags thrown in, as well as the non-stop insanity making sure that you never grow bored. It also helps that the gore never wears out it's welcome-quite the contrary in fact, as each set piece is bonkers and all around entertaining.

Yet, the whole thing ends up feeling kind of like the sum of it's parts. One major flaw is the production values. While I normally don't complain about poor production values in genre fair, the Shot on Video style left me feeling a little let down, as it would have benefited from better editing, camera work and whatnot. Also, the performances are really hit and miss, with Aino Kishi being a bit bland as our heroine (though the fact that she's willing to disrobe doesn't hurt the least). The biggest flaw though, is the poor fight choreography. Films like this need fight scenes that can hold up with the movie, and here they just can't.

In the end, it's a flawed movie, but for rainy weekend fair, "Samurai Princess" makes for a fun time. If Troma made a "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" episode, it would probably resemble this.

Rating: 6.5/10

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