They say that variety is the spice of life. In attempt to embrace that variety here with One Movie Each Day, I’ve decided to dedicate one day each week, (for however long I keep this up,) to the stranger side of cinema. To take a day and review the type of movies that I’d never normally watch, but that I’m kind of secretly glad exist. In celebration or (perhaps more condemnation) of the eccentric, the odd, the freaky, the kinky, the ghastly, the freaky, the fearful, and the flaky, I present the first installment of Wednesday Weirdness.
In my experience if one is looking for weirdness, looking to Japan is often going to be a good place to start, and that’s where today’s film comes from. Released in 2009 (and apparently actually intended to be marketed to American cult audiences, if I’m reading between the lines correctly) it’s Samurai Princess.
I’m not really sure what to make of this film. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a comedy, or an action movie, or what. My nearest guess is that it’s supposed to be a Troma-esque farce. But I’m not sure about that. From what I gathered of the plot it’s set in either a semi-dystopian future, or possibly an alternative version of Japan that retains some feudal influences along side modern technology. Central to the plot are Mechas which are sort of Cyborg-Frankenstein people cobbled together from bits of technology and pieces of dead bodies. Mechas, we learn, all go insane eventually. Which would certainly put a damper on their usefulness.
The protagonist is Samurai Princess (Aino Kishi), a Mecha built from the body of a young woman, and infused with the souls of eleven of her sisters , all of whom were raped and murdered while trying to enjoy a picnic in the Forest of Infinity. Samurai Princess is built by a mad scientist, and equipped with a vast array of built-in weapons, while a friendly Buddhist nun handles the above-mentioned soul-fusing. She then sets out on a a quest for revenge, eventually joined by a guy named Gekko (Dai Mizuno) who you can tell right away is awesome, because he has a radical guitar strapped to his back and a Mecha hand with which to play it. Also, the guitar turns into a sword.
Honestly though, I get the impression that the plot really doesn’t matter, and only serves as a device on which to hang various scenes of stylistically-fake violence and gore. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. Apparently the film’s special effects master Yoshihiro Nishimura is famous for his distinct style of over-the-top blood and guts violence. There are all sorts of bizarrely violent hackings and slashings, and dismemberment. Not content to get the action in and move on once things stop bleeding, we’re treated to scenes the mad scientist picking through the offal after every battle apparently picking out parts for his next abomination. Writer/director Kengo Kaji also includes a sex scene that is as explicit as it is pointless. Not that I’m complaining, as it turns out Aino Kishi is smokin’ hot. Of course, it has to turn out that it’s all a dream, because apparently some things got left out when turning her into a Mecha. Retractable forearm swords, check. Ladyparts, no.
When it’s all said and done, it’s ninety minutes of insanely R-rated frivolity. I know this type of movie has a dedicated cult following, but I’d imagine even fans of this stuff would have a hard time arguing that Samurai Princess is worth the time investment. The plot is practically non-existent, and the production values are super cheap. Even watching it on a standard-definition Netflix stream it’s apparent that the whole thing was filmed using consumer-grade video cameras. There are a couple moments where the film looks like it’s going to head in an interesting direction, and the actual premise could serve as the basis for a pretty good sci-fi story. But this isn’t it, and it’s not worth seeing.