Friday, November 26, 2010

Robogeisha (2009)

Though it didn't start with it, the movie that could probably be considered as the kickoff point for the current wave of splatter-comedy movies from Japan is Noboru Iguchi's 2008 film "The Machine Girl." Over the top, nonsensical and gory as hell, the thing took the most insane moments of Troma, films like "Starship Troopers", Anime and a sundry of other influences, then put them in an industrial blender and concocted something that had to be seen to be believed. Since then, Japanese horror took a turn for the surreal and messy, with films like "Tokyo Gore Police", "Samurai Princess" and "Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl" (which may be the crowning achievement of this movement) wowing gore hounds and fans of the outrageous. Well, Iguchi has returned to this field with "Robogeisha", and while it's a lot of fun, you can't help but wonder if this kind of horror comedy from Japan is wearing out it's welcome.

Poor Yoshi Kasuga (Aya Kiguchi) is constantly being treated like shit by her Geisha sister Kikue (Hotomi Hasube), until she is recruited by a secret society to join an army of Geisha assassins. During this training, Yoshi and her sister have parts of their body changed, giving them all kinds of interesting weapons, and in the process becoming cyborgs. Well, it turns out that Kaguno (Takumi Saitô) has some mean tricks up his sleeve, including using a castle/robot hybrid to destroy Japan. Can Yoshi break free and save Japan? Will her and Kikue ever get along? What the hell are the Japanese smoking? Why is Asami (from "Audition") appearing in all of these movies as of late?

A mix of family melodrama, Black Humor, and too many "what the fuck" moments to name them all (a few include acidic breast milk, "ass-swords", ninja stars shooting from asses, and buildings that bleed when struck), "Robogeisha" is another you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it film from the effects guys and directors of your favorite Japanese splatter movies. Fortunately, the plot is enjoyable and easy to follow, the protagonist is likable, and the humor mostly works, as do many of the over the top moments. The entire body modification aspect to the story could possibly be seen as feminist satire, as it could be looked at as a commentary on society's tendency to pressure girls into looking their best via plastic surgery, either from peer pressure or jealousy. I'm probably getting ahead of myself though, as this is a movie with machine gun breasts and a giant robot.

If it runs into any problems, it's familiarity and the fact that it ends up running out of steam. Watching this, I couldn't help but feel like in spite of the over the top nature and things I've never seen before, I feel like this kind of movie is starting to get old. A movie trying to throw in things you've never seen before is great, but after seeing movie after movie like this from Japan, I can't help but feel like this is starting to get old. Also, everything after the robot-castle's rampage is kind of tiresome, and you can't help but feel like Iguchi ran out of ideas in the end.

Still, "Robogeisha" is loads of fun for the large part, and it should definitely please fans of the current wave of Japanese gore flicks, even though it's starting to get old if you ask me. Still, they're showing no sign of slowing down, so hey, what harm can another do?

Rating: 7.5/10

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