Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fantasia ’14: Gun Woman

If revenge is a dish best served cold, this is a blood Popsicle. It is one blisteringly chilly, gory film. If the work of uni-named actress Asami means anything to you, then you already expect something extreme. The star of Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead and The Machine Girl (as well as scores of crazier sounding titles) will become a weapon of vengeance in Kurando Mitsutake’s Gun Woman (not safe for anywhere trailer here), which had its Canadian premiere at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival.

Fair warning, if you are squeamish or have an average sensitivity to violence, Gun Woman is not for you. Frankly, the first half hour is almost prohibitively brutal, but it will have you down with the mastermind’s general desire for payback. His target is the sadist heir to a multinational conglomerate fortune. “Hamazaki’s Son,” as he is known, uses his wealth to fund a life incredibly foul sex crimes. One of his victims was the wife of the “Mastermind,” a brilliant surgeon, who is not without means either.

It is impossible to out-gun the bodyguards retained by Hamazaki’s Son, but there is one place where he is relatively unprotected: an exclusive necrophilia club. He has a plan to place Mayumi there, with a gun and thirteen bullets. She is a meth addict he flat out bought expressly for the job. He trains her to become a killing machine, but for reasons that will be only too clear, she will only have twenty-two minutes to complete the hit.

Again, it is important to emphasize this could be one of the roughest films at Fantasia, or anywhere not regularly screening A Serbian Film. However, Asami earns all kinds of credit for her bold, frequently naked and blood-splattered performance. Although she has virtually no dialogue, she vividly portrays Mayumi’s evolution from drugged out zombie to freaked out victim on the way to becoming a lethal killing machine.

It all looks and sounds very Drafthousy, thanks to Mitsutake’s conscious efforts to evoke a 1980s straight to-VHS vibe. This too requires a specialized taste. However, his narrative structure serves the material surprisingly well. He also elicits the perfect performances from his cast. Asami and Kairi Narita are both totally hardcore as Mayumi and the Mastermind. Noriaki R. Kamata is off-the-charts clammy and maniacal as Hamazaki’s Son, while Matthew Miller is appropriately detached as the American assassin narrator.

Action does not get any sleazier than Gun Woman. One could easily object to it on multiple moral and aesthetic grounds, but it stays true to Mitsutake’s vision. If you have any doubts whether it is for you, then it most certainly is not. Not advised for civilian consumption, it is best saved for fans of Asami and the comparable work of Indonesian exploitation auteur Arizal. There are probably intense debates still raging in Montreal following its Fantasia premiere, but given the cult reputation of those involved, Gun Woman is likely to have legs, so consider yourself warned.