Foreign Objects travels the world of international cinema each week to highlight films worth visiting. So renew your passport, get your shots, and brush up on the local age of legal consent, this week we’re heading to…
Japan! I know, I seem to go there a lot, but this is a special occasion. In honor of Michael Phelps’ record-breaking eight gold medals he won last week, both in solo competition and as part of the US Olympic Swim Team, I wanted to pick a film that shared his enthusiasm for water sports. I knew my search was over when I came across The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers, which is one of the best B-movie titles since Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. Cementing the movie as my pick of the week was the impossible-to-ignore DVD cover promising wet Japanese girls and death by chainsaw.
The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers (TGRFoCS going forward) follows through on the cover art’s promises and then some. It’s sexy, funny, and filled with gore… and yet at the same time I feel obligated to tell you it’s not a good movie in the classic sense of the word. Let’s start with the plot… Aki has transferred to a new school on the same day “a popular new virus species” (I love bad subtitles) is spreading between the students and faculty. A doctor and nurse have arrived to inoculate everyone against the infection, but the populace only seems to get sicker. By sicker, I of course mean they’re turning into flesh-eating zombies. Aki meanwhile has found a friend in a member of the girls swim team, and when bloody body parts start flying the girls discover the chlorine from the pool has immunized them against the sickness and the team bands together to combat the zombie menace. But not before Aki reveals her secret past in captivity where she was trained to kill by her flute-playing captor. And not before Sayaka nurses Aki back to health by feeding her soup… from her mouth. And not before the two friends enjoy a five minute lesbian sex scene. Damn this is an incredibly good movie.
Like I said, TGRFoCS is gory, funny, and sexy, but those adjectives come with some disclaimers. The gore is plentiful, especially during a scene where an infected teacher begins slicing off students’ heads and limbs before the entire classroom becomes a bloody, cannibalistic melee. But the gore is cheap looking and fails to impress. This goes for all the effects, including a completely unnecessary explosion and a laser beam that shoots from Aki’s bajango. (Yes, you read that right, and yes, “bajango” is Scrubs slang for vagina.) I laughed aloud at several points in the movie which is more than most mainstream comedies can get from me, but they were often in response to unintentionally hilarious subtitles and utterly absurd plot turns. The sexy comes courtesy solely of Sasa Handa as Aki. She’s beautiful in a dreamy, drugged-up kind of way (this also describes her acting style), and she spends a good portion of the movie naked. I’m not really a big boobs kind of guy (my momma always taught me that anything more than a mouthful was a waste), but Handa’s impressive assets are surprisingly uplifting and inviting. The rest of the girls aren’t nearly as talented or easy on the eyes.
It’s easy to point out the abundant and obvious weaknesses on display in TGRFoCS, so I won’t. Instead I’ll simply share the sad, tragic, and funny tale Aki tells Sayaka about her La Femme Nikita-like captivity right before they take off their clothes and masturbate. The following voice over (via subtitles) is accompanied by a montage of Aki doing push ups in a bikini and a ball gag(!), firing machine guns and running on the beach in a wet suit, playing with a butterfly knife in her underwear, and generally just sitting around topless.
“I was alone before. I was a crazy doctor. He was a crazy doctor. I was an orphan. One day I was caught by him. He was called a doctor. He is a crazy doctor specially studies killing viruses and human body reform. He trades with the world’s most horrible organization. He also trains murder. Because he likes me very much he gives me special training on how to kill people. The way I practise killing people every day was killing a big deal in the Rinkai Exhibition so I had to train as a water terrorist. But I was called a senior school student at that time when others were enjoying the happiest moments. I have decided to quit this kind of life. I must leave. I wish to forget all these horrible days. But why? Once I hear the sound of water, once I smell the odour of water, I will go to the swimming pool naturally.”
I don’t know what a water terrorist is, I don’t know what the Rinkai Exhibition was, and the scene failed to make any more sense regardless of how many times I watched it (seven)… but damn if I wasn’t pulling for Aki to get into the swimming pool again naturally. As bad as TGRFoCS‘s effects, musical score, acting, script, editing, directing, and fight choreography is, and they are pretty bad… I honestly enjoyed the hell out it. (This probably says more about me then it does the movie.) All of these things are done on the cheap, but they’re also done with energy, creativity, and an overall sense of the absurd. The seventy-eight minute run-time never drags and it never fails to entertain. How many big-budget Hollywood movies can make the same claim?
The Upside: Damn entertaining; Sasa Handa is beautiful, frequently wet, and even more frequently naked; unexpectedly ironic ending; the old laser-shooting vagina gag; soup swapping scene.
The Downside: Cheap looking in almost every regard; sleazy; only one hot girl on a swim team of seven is unacceptable.