One of the worst-kept secrets at this year’s Fantastic Fest was the identity of Secret Screening #1. A website mix-up revealed images from the film weeks before the festival, and even though they were quickly removed the damage had already been done. Word spread across the interwebs that festival-goers should expect a surprise from Japan this year. More specifically we knew that the director of The Machine Girl was returning with a new mechanized heroine, and that this time she’ll be packing more firepower than just an arm cannon. There will be swords and shurikens launching from between ass cheeks, breasts will be transformed into machine guns, and a building will transform into a gigantic robot of mega destruction… and the movie that gives all of that to us will be called Robogeisha!
Two sisters are leading opposite lives. One is in training to become a geisha and is privy to all that the lifestyle expects. The other is expected to stay in the shadows and clean up behind her. The elder sister is being courted by a wealthy steel baron, but when he meets the younger sibling (Yoshie) his attention shifts. The sisters enter into a competition for the young man’s affection, and soon the two are undergoing mechanical engineering to enhance their abilities in an escalating ass arms race to see who he’ll choose. That this continues even after the man kidnaps the pair and begins to train them to be assassins is just one more layer of ridiculousness in a movie brimming with the nutty and the zany. Yoshie begins to learn the truth behind their assignments and soon the sisters find themselves heading towards a final confrontation. Asses will be pierced and buildings will bleed…
Fans of director Noboru Iguchi’s precious films, especially The Machine Girl, should find several things to enjoy here. Hot Japanese girls run around wearing outfits designed strictly to be fetishized. Bloody attacks and dismemberments. Metal objects going in and/or out of girls’ asses. Over the top violence that shows a complete disregard for human biology. Normally that in itself would be a problem, but with Yoshihiro Nishimura returning to provide the utterly ridiculous and deliriously entertaining special effects at a blistering pace you don’t have time to stop and complain about anything. Bodies explode, limbs are lopped off, geisha torsos detach and fly, and Yoshie even transforms into a mini-tank to traverse a busy freeway at high speeds. We’re also graced with a duo known as the Tengu Twins. They’re two cute, deadly, and masked women who serve the side of evil by fighting the bad fight with masterful swordplay (gripped both in their hands and in their asses).
The two films differ only in the percentage of comedy Iguchi throws at the audience. The Machine Girl is filled with goofy visual gags and general absurdity, but it’s core story still features murder, revenge, and the necrophiliac rape of a teenage girl. It’s pretty dark stuff, relatively speaking, especially when compared to the pure comedic intent of Robogeisha. This is basically a story of two sisters fighting over the same man taken to mad extremes. It plays like a parody of Japanese tele-novelas (or at least of whatever the Japanese equivalent of tele-novela is). The greatest dilemma our heroine faces is her existential and personal quest to answer the question “Am I robot or am I geisha?”
Iguchi knows what he likes, and what he likes is ass, blood, absurdity, and making the audience laugh. All of that and more is present in his new film, but it’s marred by an excessive use of CGI blood. It’s funny when the buildings are shattered are blood splashes and spills from the crumbling structures, but it looks terrible when people are being stabbed, shot, and decapitated and we get shiny computer generated blood drops instead of the wet stuff. Still, it’s a fun movie and worth watching for fans who know what to expect, but replay value is limited as the jokes won’t retain the minor success they find on the first viewing.
The Upside: The Tengu Twins are oddly sexy; pretty funny at times; over the top and you never quite know what to expect
The Downside: Very heavy on the comedy side, but not enough of it is all that funny; CGI blood is never cool and it’s used here way too often; special effects in general are pretty bad
On the Side: This Fantastic Fest screening may not have been the world premiere (for contractual reasons apparently), but it was reportedly the first time the film has been screened for an audience anywhere in the world…