The Machine Girl

English Title: The Machine Girl

Original Title: Kataude mashin gâru

Country of Origin: Japan

Studio: Fever Dreams, Nikkatsu

Director: Noboru Iguchi

Producer(s): Yoshinori Chiba, Yoko Hayama , Satoshi Nakamura

Screenplay: Noboru Iguchi

Cinematographer: Yasutaka Nagano

Editor: Kenji Tanabe

Runtime: 96 minutes

Genre: Horror

Starring/Cast: Minase Yashiro, Asami, Ryosuke Kawamura, Kentaro Kishi, Kentaro Shimazu

Year: 2008

Volume: Japanese

The brother and the friend of school girl Ami Hyuga are bullied to death by the son of aYakuza boss. Wanting to understand what transpired and why, Ami confronts the son's gang, killing a number of them before being captured by the Yakuza. She escapes whilst clutching the bloody stump of her amputated left arm. Late, fitted with a gatling gun where her left forearm once was, Ami confront the Yakuza boss and his underlings.

The Machine Girl engages with the ramifications of bullying and revenge in a completely extravagant and absurd fashion. Yet it is the element of absurdity which transforms The Machine Girl from pure kitsch to a film which actually engages with the outcomes of violence. The film explores the very real practices of bullying which take place in not only Japanese high schools, but in many institutions worldwide. Ami's brother and his young friend are constantly tormented by a young yakuza and his gang, ranging from name calling, beating to ultimately being thrown off a building. While the film is glossed with B-movie effects, laughably over the top violence, and ridiculous dialogue, it uses these techniques in order to demonstrate the preposterousness of the quest for vengeance. The film’s social viewpoint on revenge is demonstrated in one key scene. Following the deaths of some of the members of the gang, Ami and Miki are attacked by ninjas who are literally ripped apart by bullets once Ami has attached a gatling gun to where her forearm once was. While this is a scene of exorbitant violence, the triumphant dynamic changes once Ami and Miki attempt to confront the Yakuza boss. Having gone on a killing spree, eliminating the members of the young Yakuza's gang, Ami and Miki encounter the ‘Super Mourner Gang’, which consists of the grieving relatives of the young men that Ami has killed. The cyclical dynamic of revenge killings is readily apparent in this scene, when one quest for vengeance encounters another as both groups have equal cause to engage the other. While the film concludes with the protagonist triumphant, it nevertheless effectively demonstrates the ludicrous barbarism that is associated with a relentless pursuit of vengeance.

Author of this review: Angus Mcblane