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Gun Woman (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/26/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/15/2015
It would be an understatement to say that the Japanese have a history of making unusual movies. For a society which is known for structure, manners, and respect, they certainly cut loose in their films, which can be full of bizarre imagery, violence, and strange sexual ideas. Directors like Takashi Miike have pushed the envelope and made movies which aren't easily forgettable. Over the past few years, many movies involving extreme gore and body horror. Movies likeHelldriver, Yakuza Weapon, and Tokyo Gore Police have taken over-the-top to a new level. This has inspired other filmmakers to get in on the action with entries like Gun Woman.
Gun Woman tells the story of a doctor (Kairi Narita) who is on a quest for revenge. The son of a powerful criminal (Noriaki Kamata) murdered the doctorís wife and left the doctor with an injured leg. Despite the fact that the son was shunned for his twisted obsessions, he remained at large and continued to commit random atrocities. The doctor learns that the madman likes to frequent an exclusive club for those who have unusual interests. This is when the doctor hatches his plan. He abducts Mayumi (Asami), a drug addict, and trains her to be an assassin. She masters martial arts and gunplay, all the while preparing for the ultimate test. When she is sent on her mission, only perfect timing will keep her alive.
If the above synopsis seems vague, itís because the movie doesnít give us much to work with. Obviously, the characters donít have names, and there is basically no character development. The overall story is very scant, and probably could have been a short film. The running time is padded by a wrap-around device in which the story we are watching is being told by an assassin (Matthew Floyd Miller) who is being escorted by a driver (Dean Simone) following a job. This wrap-around piece does have a pay-off at the end, but I can't say that it's a very satisfying one.
I was intentionally vague in the synopsis about the doctor's ultimate plan because, A) if you're going to watch the movie, it's best that you be surprised, and B) I try to keep this website as family-friendly as possible, and a detailed description of what Mayumi is asked to do would not be safe for work, or home or anywhere else for that matter. However, I must admit, as demented as it is, the caper is an interesting and original one, and if I were to describe it to a specific audience of open-minded individuals, they would most likely agree that it sounds intriguing. It's certainly veers away from the recent Japanese trend of simply having ultra-violence or people turning into machines. There's no science-fiction in Gun Woman -- The movie may be bonkers, but it's also very bloody and realistic in its portrayal of violence.
So, fans of this type of film will be disappointed to hear that one must slog through a dull and poorly-made mess of a movie to get to the finale and the big action sequence. I mentioned that the film is dull, but I'm sure that some would disagree with that assessment, as something is always happening in the first and second acts. The problem is that it's not engaging. This is a very mean-spirited film, and while I'm rarely offended by anything in movies, I find it hard to be interested in movies which depict prolonged torture and humiliation. The camerawork in the film is incredibly sloppy and in a few shots, it looks as if the cameraman lost the subject in the viewfinder and is searching for it. The acting is about what one would expect from a movie with little dialogue.
It's interesting to note that while Gun Woman has a Japanese director and some of the actors are Asian, the film was shot in the United States. That doesn't stop it from having a distinct Japanese aesthetic to it. And one would think that any film in which the heroine must fight her way out of an evil lair while she is completely naked would be awesome, this movie isn't. Kudos to Mitsutake for taking a no holds barred approach to the body horror subgenre, but an interesting idea for a movie can't make up for the lack of an overall plot. Gun Woman definitely misses its target.
Gun Woman opens with an odd still-frame which will make you think that the movie has frozen on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Shout! Factory. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 24 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, although the picture shows obvious grain at times. There are no defects from the source materials. The colors look good for the most part, however a few shots are washed out. The level of detail is good, but this only draws attention to the loose camerawork. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. (The primary track offers English and Japanese dialogue.) The stereo and surround effects really come to life during the finale. The stereo effects show good separation, and we get a few distinct sounds from the rear speakers. The gunfire provides notable subwoofer effects.
The Gun Woman Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Kurando Mitsutake and Asami (which has English subtitles). This is followed with a second, solo COMMENTARY from Mitsutake. "Making of Gun Woman" (48 minutes) is a detailed piece which features interviews with Mitsutake and the cast. The comments focus on the challenges involved with making the movie and the characters. We are treated to a great deal of on-set footage, showing us the making of specific scenes and some rehearsal footage. The Disc also includes three TRAILERS for the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long