18 Nov

Geisha is robot. Robogeisha.

Posted by Bryan White | Thursday November 18, 2010 | Reviews

Robogeisha ReviewI’ve run the trailer for Robogeisha for a lot of people. I did it at the guerilla drive-in I host over the summers. I circulated it around my Twitter followers. I’ve shown it to people I know in the office and I always, without exception, get the same reaction.

“That’s a real movie?”

Is it so hard to believe that the Japanese could produce a movie wherein a woman transforms into a tank and stabs a man’s eyes out with a pair of fried shrimp? I suppose you have to be familiar already with Japan’s movie landscape but even the most casual of observers is aware that this is a nation that is putting a ton of research and development resources into robots that sing and dance and right now one of their hottest pop stars is a hologram. Seriously. More media has come from Japan that leaves me scratching my head than all other nations combined. This is a nation with its own special brand of twisted pornography that comes in the form of hentai. I think someone poisoned the water supply with LSD long ago and the whole of Tokyo is like Toontown. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m actually in love with this wacky aesthetic. Japan’s crippling social issues and a birth rate in rapid decline notwithstanding, it’s a fascinating culture of alienation that turns out some of the strangest shit I’ve ever seen in my life and produced the most outrageous cultural fads the world has ever seen. Need some examples? Check this shit out! Doya!

Yoshie is the abused sister of Kikue. While Kikue maintains the ancient Japanese tradition of Geisha, entertaining dudes all over, Yoshie gets the crumbs and picks up after her. That is, until a steel industry magnate kidnaps them both and inducts them into his harem of deadly geisha assassins. Yoshie, however, wins his favor and is among his most promising products. The rivalry between Yoshie and Kikue deepens as a result and each one goes through a series of bionic upgrades in order to one-up the other. Yoshie is in the game 100% until she is sent on a mission to kill a group of seemingly defenseless old folks. It turns out, however, that these old folks are the families of the women kidnapped and pressed into service as a geisha assassin. Now deprogrammed, Yoshie must save her sister and thwart her captor’s plan to destroy Japan with a massive bomb.

As weird as this sounds, I had really high hopes for Robogeisha. Noboru Iguchi is a filmmaker that I can get behind. I’m really high on the whole Sushi Typhoon aesthetic, even if this isn’t an official Sushi Typhoon title. Buckets of blood and the outrageous “plots” of these movies tend to hit me in the sweet spot but Robogeisha is uneven at best. It takes its ridiculous premise, a joke that’s good for about half the picture and stretches it out to excruciating tedium. You’d think that a movie about women who spawn hidden katana blades from ass-compartments, the same ass-compartments that shoot rapid fire throwing stars, would be worth five feature films but Robogeisha can’t drain the comedy reservoir fast enough. Once you’ve seen the signature gag of hidden weapons a couple of times and the machine gun in the chest that fires when the nipple trigger is fondled a couple of times, it feels very tired. I never thought I’d say that about any movie. Am I just getting grouchy in my old age? Do lethal T&A concepts no longer tickle me like they used to? What have I become? There’s also the matter of excessive bloodletting replaced with shoddy CGI blood that flies in defiance of gravity. That shit everywhere! Very little actual stage blood is used.

Don’t let my negative criticism get you down, though. Understand that even though I thought the gag ran out of gas at the half way mark and the remaining picture up to the final climax, which features a giant robot that vomits, was a bit tedious, there’s still nothing even remotely similar to Robogeisha out there. Noboru Iguchi is dedicated to the grisly spectacle and the latest is the lightest of his bloodbaths. From start to  finish it’s a head scratcher in the best way possible. For some reason they just don’t make movies like this outside of Japan. There’s still the matter of the run-up to the let-down and in that time there’s a pair of demonic girls in tengu masks who squirt acid breast milk from demonic bikinis, the aforementioned fried shrimp assassination, buildings that when smashed in shoot blood, people whose bodies seem to contain nothing but noodles and miso and a strange reverence for the tradition of geisha.

That’s all I’ve got, unfortunately. The bar was set pretty high on this one because of that killer trailer but it almost seems as though the trailer was shot first and the blanks were filled in later when they realized that everyone outside of Japan was going apeshit in anticipation of this movie. I feel like the recently released and similarly themed, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl was a better example of zany gorefests from Japan but Robogeisha works half the time and feels tired for the rest of the running time. It’s absolutely out of control and lacks anything resembling sanity but the near complete lack of fake-blood soak-downs in favor of shabby CGI blood knocks off major points in a movie from a creative team that relies heavily on saturating their casts and sets in the stuff. It’s fun while it lasts but it doesn’t last to the end. Dig?

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