HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SAMURAI PRINCESS -- DVD review by porfle

One of those low-low-budget flicks that substitutes outrageousness for fancy production values, Japan's SAMURAI PRINCESS (2009) is a goodnaturedly over-the-top wallow in deadpan absurdity, comic book heroics, and gore, gore, gore. Did I mention gore? There's a lot of that, too.

In a dystopian future where sword-wielding outlaws roam the forests along with kill-crazy cyborgs known as Mechas, eleven innocent young girls are fallen upon (literally) and killed by a gang of bad guys. Lucky for them a mad scientist named Kyoraku (Asuka Kataoka), who loves to make Mechas with the help of his two giggling female assistants, is in a creative mood. Using different parts from each girl, he creates Gedohime, the vengeful Samurai Princess (Aino Kishi), into whom is instilled the souls of all eleven girls by a white-haired nun praying to an obliging Buddha. In doing so, the nun fears that she has transformed the souls in "heretic devils."

Gedohime goes on a bloody rampage against Mechas and outlaws, including a couple of gleefully homicidal robotic punk lovers named Shachi and Kocho who love to kill people and make grotesque works of art out of their victims' body parts. Meanwhile, she's being tracked by Mecha hunter Mikaduki (Mao Shiina) and her spoiled rich friend Mangetsu (Miki Hirase), who goes along just for fun. Gedohime is joined by guitar-slinging former Mecha hunter Gekko (Dai Mizuno), now being hunted himself for having a mechanical hand.

Looking like the low-budget affair that it is, SAMURAI PRINCESS is directed by Kengo Kaji in a sloppy, freewheeling style and never takes itself seriously even when it's pretending to. The fights are fast and fun, with quick cuts and jerky camerawork substituting for actual skill in most cases, and you never know what sort of super power--flaming rocket feet, chainsaw arms, even breast grenades--that these wacky Mechas are going to come up with next.

The gore is like an all-you-can-eat buffet in a cheap diner--not all that fancy but there's plenty of it. With their razor-sharp swords, Gedohime and the bad Mechas chop up foes into their component parts like Ginsu chefs, leaving heaping piles of body parts along with the occasional gruesome artwork. Sometimes you can see the seams on a plastic foot or whatever, but this is a minor quibble. One thing's for sure--this movie's got a lot of guts.

Occasionally an effect will look pretty cool, as when Shachi knocks a guy's entire skeleton out through his back, or Gedohime splits a fleeing bandit's head with her breast grenades, or Kocho inserts her scissor foot into a guy's mouth and slices his face in half, all with the obligatory geysers of blood. (When Gedohime pulls a guy's brain out of his skull in order to "question it directly", the effect looks fake but it doesn't matter because it's so funny.) And speaking of blood, each victim seems to contain several gallons of it, which continues to gush like a burst water pipe long after they're dead.

The special-effects crew save their best for last, however, when Gedohime takes on a hulking, rubbery monstrosity that's composed of male and female bodies fused together. Mortally wounded, she calls upon the spirits of the eleven girls to turn her into a multiple-sword-swinging shiva and the battle is on. Too bad the entire movie isn't this exciting, as there are the occasional draggy parts, but here the comedic touches help maintain our interest. There's also some softcore sex to beef up the film's exploitation value, as Gedohime imagines herself and Gekko having soft-focus sex in their original human bodies.

The DVD from Well Go USA, Inc. is in 16:9 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 stereo, Japanese or English dubbed soundtrack, and English subtitles. Extras include a trailer, photo gallery, and "making of" featurette.

I doubt if this film will have anyone making room for it on their ten-best or even hundred-best lists anytime soon. But if anyone happens to concoct a list entitled "Ten Most Dumb-Fun Low-Budget Japanese Samurai-Chick Gore Flicks of 2009", then SAMURAI PRINCESS should definitely qualify for a spot on it.

Buy it at

Buy it at HK Flix

No comments: