Directors: Noboru Iguchi, Yoshihiro Nishimura, Tak Sakaguchi
Starring: Yumi Sugimoto, Yuko Takayama, Suzuka Morita, Kanji Tsuda, Maiko Ito, Tak Sakaguchi, Asami Sugiura, Naoto Takenaka
In recent years, there has emerged a sub-genre in Japanese cinema. These films are blood drenched cyber punk, and ridiculously gory. They are typically fairly low budget but are frequently licensed in the United States and quite quickly turn a tidy profit. Reminiscent of American fare like Planet Terror and the films which inspired it, these new genre films typically are examples of excess and outlandishness with little to no artistic merit. This is the era of Japanese gonzo gorefests. With that, I give you my review of the recent, Mutant Girls Squad. *Special Thanks to Well Go USA for providing a viewing copy!
Here’s what it’s all about; in the not too distant future, Japanese Special Forces hunt down a breed of non-human mutants known as HILKO. They look like regular humans, but develop a mutation that makes them extremely dangerous. To protect mankind, these HILKO are hunted down and mercilessly killed after developing their mutations at the age of 16. Enter Rin, a young schoolgirl about to have her 16th birthday and the surprise of a lifetime. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Rin fights off attackers, joins with other HILKO, and learns the true nature of the battle between her kind and humans. If this sounds a bit like a certain American comic book team, don’t worry, at its core it basically is that, just with Japanese schoolgirls and ultra violence.
Told in three parts, with three different directors, the film quickly establishes the background and it isn’t very long before the blood really starts to flow. Kills are graphic and in many cases done for comedic effect. Some of these scenes are actually humorous, but just as many fall flat. It keeps this pace for much of the film and as the viewer you find yourself waiting for the next fight, the next gag, to see if it gets any better. It never really does, but the film never really gets worse either. The makeup and prosthetics used are intentionally bad and as the viewer you get the joke really quickly. The geysers of blood never gross you out like real blood does since it looks more like fruit punch than actual plasma.
Action wise the film is surprisingly alright. The actresses seem to be really into their roles and bring a lot of effort to keeping up the joke. I’m certain breaks on the set must have been a common occurrence. Acting is cheesily bad and the ham factor is extremely high. Of course, this fits in handily with the tone of the film and it never feels out of place. The film is chock full of popular culture references, from Astro Boy to plays on Japanese mythology. A surprising number of cameos are also in the film; indeed, I was surprised to see certain actors in a film such as this.
In the end, Mutant Girl Squad is ridiculous, over the top, and silly gratuitous violence. If you’ve seen films from this genre already, nothing in it will surprise you, save for the slightly more focused emphasis on the story. While it doesn’t do anything to separate itself from other films of this type, should you pick it up, you should already have known what to expect. Fans of the genre will love it while the uninitiated will probably be confused. I can’t honestly say that it is a good film, but for people who would be watching this film, it will definitely exist as a much better film as opposed to its similarly presented compatriots.
You may like this film if you liked: Tokyo Gore Police, Machine Girl, Death Trance