Media Blasters // 2004 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 17th, 2006
Girls for independence.
The hard-working people at Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock brand have apparently made it their mission to release as many wacky imports from the Land of the Rising Sun as they can get their hands on. Samurai Chicks is no different -- though it could have been wackier.
When you want to mount a violent resistance to an oppressive government, who do you turn to? For the folks in southern Japan, it's a group of elite undercover female assassins, who use the Orion Dancers Academy as their base of operations. The Academy acts as a front, drawing in lithe, athletic women, where the best of the bunch are selected, and trained to run covert operations against government targets.
Yuki (Megumi Shoji) is the brightest recruit of the recent selection, but soon realizes that attacking well-armed government agents with a karate/dance hybrid may not be the best idea. Even her poison-gas-spewing rubber breast may not be up to the challenge.
So close to being weird and cool but ultimately as forgettable as that weird and uncool kid from junior high art class, Samurai Chicks fails to distinguish itself among its insane import brethren. It started out promising and boasts a neat little premise, but by the time the credits that I couldn't understand rolled, I was left with 72 minutes of ho-hum girl power.
As I said, the affair began on an up note. We're introduce to our "titular" chicks (that wordplay will reveal itself shortly), when they ambush a car full of bad guys and gas them with a fake boob. Unfortunately, the movie's bizarre quotient crests with this scene, and what unfolds next is a breezy exposition on how the girls ended up at the dance academy, were selected to be operatives, and went on to take their orders from subliminal music videos.
This middle part is kind of tedious, highlighted by a few fight scenes that are only partially intriguing (the choreography isn't as hip as the title makes it sound). What is interesting, however, is the dramatic change in tone that hits the film by its final third. Suddenly our Samurai Chicks are getting dropped like punks (with squibs and ruptured blood packets aplenty), and the all-too harsh reality of subversive revolution is made clear.
Still, director Mari Asato still manages to inject some (I think intentional) weirdness into the carnage, exemplified by two scenes: 1) Yuki laments her mother's passing, in what is perhaps the unluckiest of ways to go: while an American plane flies overhead, an object falls from the sky and stabs her in the neck, where she bleeds to death, cradled by her daughter, who removes the culprit: a bolt (?!?); 2) Yuki is again cradling someone close to her who is again bleeding to death, and this time a government soldier springs from the river to finish her off, donning his masterful disguise of a plastic duck on his helmet. Throw in random hip-hop numbers and semi-gleeful end-of-the-runtime slaughter and Samurai Chicks flirts with cult status. But, sadly, it doesn't go all the way.
Okey-dokey DVD presentation: the 1.85:1 widescreen looks nice, but it's not anamorphic; only a 2.0 Japanese language track is available, with English subtitles. For extras: a brief roundtable discussion about the film and an even briefer making-of featurette.
Cool title. Some neat concepts. A few crazy gags. But a net loss.
The accused is relegated back to dance class.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Media Blasters
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Roundtable Discussion
* "Making of Samurai Chicks"