Friday, January 27, 2023

Slamdance ’23: Mad Cats

You know how cats are always adorable in Japanese films, like The Cat Returns and Rent-a-Cat? Not these cats. Still, Taka Kurosawa is definitely taken with Ayane. She looks human, but is sort of a cat, like Nastassja Kinski in Cat People, but more heavily armed. They are going to need those guns to rescue his brother Mune from a cult of humanoid cat-monsters in director-screenwriter Reiki Tsuno’s Mad Cats, which screens online (Utah only) as part of the 2023 Slamdance Film Festival.

Kurosawa isn’t much, but he’s the only hope left his brother. Fortunately, a mystery woman drops off an analog cassette telling him where to find his bro. Soon, he has the boss cat’s assassins chasing after him. Fortunately, homeless Takezo saves him once accidentally and then Ayane saves them both intentionally. She will have to do so again, repeatedly.

Mad Cats
is a wild micro-budget ride that obviously requires viewer indulgence suspending their disbelief. However, if you enjoy watching assassins fighting in Emma Peel cat suits, then Mad Cats will be bigger for you than any Avatar movie. There are all kinds of shooting, slashing, and high kicking. Tsuno might have had a limited budget, but he can mount and film some deeply satisfying fight scenes. Frankly, the weird cat-monster business is just the cherry on top of the sundae.

The whole cats-who-look-like-people thing is definitely crazy, but Tsuno incorporates some clever touches. Super-ironically, Sho Mineo makes a bit of a dull lead as Kurosawa, but everyone else around him more than compensates. Yuya Matsuura is also more than a little shticky as Takezo, but at one point, he delivers a hilarious monologue. Of course, the real stars are Ayane (portraying her namesake) and the rest of the cats (especially Mio and Yae as the Mac-11 Twins, Ayaka Takezaki and Shen Tanaka as the Remington Twins, and Ruice Mori as the Insane Nunchaku). Obviously, their characters names are highly description.

If you can turn off your brain and accept Tsuno’s lunacy, Mad Cats is a ton of fun. You don’t even need tot see it after several drinks at a midnight screening, but that probably couldn’t hurt. Regardless, just watching the cats fight and scratch is all kinds of good clean family entertainment. Highly recommended for cult film fans, Mad Cats screens online for Utah through
Sunday (1/29), as part of Slamdance ’23.