Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yakuza Hunters

Actually released last May but currently doing the rounds of the cinema circuit (including the recent Tokyo Film Festival and the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival before that), the Yakuza Hunters calls itself “a new action, violence, and gore-packed film series that stars Asami - considered the new muse by the Japanese action movie directors of today.”

I’m guessing that they mean directors more inclined toward action of the violent and gore-related variety, since Noboru Iguchi cast the undoubtedly gorgeous adult video “muse” (real name Asami Sugiura) in RoboGeisha (2009) and The Machine Girl (2008).

Which can only be a good thing, really, since anybody who may've distractedly wandered into the pages of this digital limbo should have cottoned on to the fact that I’m a wee bit of an Iguchi fan.

For the two-part Yakuza Hunters, the directorial team Towa Eiken (Kazufumi Nakahiira and Shinichi Okuda) asserts in propaganda notes that they’ve created the coolest possible heroine for 21st century sensibilities – which is quite possibly correct but depends in large part on where those personal sensibilities lie.

In the plus column – aside from, of course, Asami – they’ve also got on board Yoshihiro Nishimura (the director of Tokyo Gore Police) as special gore FX chief, and Tsuyoshi Kazuno (The Machine Girl, RoboGeisha) in charge of VFX.

The synopsis I got from the people at CREi Inc. (formerly known as Media Shogun Ltd.) here in Japan tells the storyline far better than any of my own rambling attempts:

“Asami plays a legendary Yakuza Hunter, always out for revenge against yakuzas who kill with no mercy the people dear to her. Usually, she is cool and calm, but once the flame is set on fire, Asami is invincible! The over-the-top action scenes – all done by Asami herself – are absolutely breathtaking, and when she saves the day it’s a guaranteed standing ovation from the audience! Are you ready to witness the birth of the coolest heroin [sic] in high heels??”

In Part One, called appropriately enough The Ultimate Battle Royale, Asami takes on former fellow gang member Junko, a traitor who's swapped allegiances to join a dastardly yakuza gang that dabbles in drugs and prostitution – and eventually kills members of Asami’s group.

Hence obligatory all-out, yakuza-destroying mayhem.

Part Two, dubbed The Revenge Duel in Hell, sees Asami’s return from the yakuza-destroying battlefront to visit Inokuma, the man who taught her the skills of being a Yakuza Hunter in the first place.

What she finds instead is a district panhandled by more diabolical yakuza types who are planning to build a casino; they’ve also called in cold-blooded killer Akira for protection.

After several friends are systematically slaughtered, Asami steps in to take down the lot.

While the violence quotient gets a bit much, these movies are still a downright hoot, packed with drop-dead girls in an array of skimpy costumes and hilarious Japanese gangster stereotypes.

And there’s some history here – the Yakuza Hunter concept makes tongue-in-cheek references to the Female Prisoner #701 Scorpion movies from the early ‘70s, starring Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood)... themselves based on the classic manga by Toru Shinohara, claimed to have inspired Kill Bill, remade as Sasori by Hong Kong director Joe Ma in 2008, and also homaged in Japanese director Sion Sono’s quite brilliant Love Exposure.

© 2010 YAKUZ BUTING GIRLS Film Partners

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