- Street Date:
- May 26th, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Tom Landy
- Review Date: 1
- May 22nd, 2015
- Movie Release Year:
- Scream Factory
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
In 2009, Japanese filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake thrilled cult film aficionados with his low-budget sushi western 'Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf' -- which coincidentally also releases on Blu-ray this month courtesy of Synapse Films. Mitsutake's follow-up film, however, is the one reviewed here -- another grindhouse revenge homage this time starring former gravure and adult film idol Asami ('The Machine Girl') simply titled, 'Gun Woman' (2014). Inspired by the "pinky violence" cinema of the 1970s and the splatter horror films of the 1980s, this J-sploitation flick is a curious B-movie blend of 'La Femme Nikita' meets 'Hostel' -- with a dash of 'Kill Bill' and the medical insanity of 'The Human Centipede' puréed in for good measure.
Asami stars as Mayumi -- a meth addict who is abducted by sex traffickers and quickly sold on the black market to a deranged one-eyed doctor (Kairi Narita) with one hell of a limp. Driven mad by the brutal rape and murder of his wife, the once respectable physician has vowed to rain down bloody vengeance upon the man (Noriaki Kamata) responsible for her death -- a powerful and sadistic nut job with a taste for necrophilia. Problem is, the well-guarded target is nearly impossible to reach, and this is where the doc's newfound purchase comes into the picture. Mayumi will be molded to become his tool -- his instrument of death, and once ready she will be sent deep into the dragon's den Trojan horse-style to take the sick fucker out...or at least die trying.
There's a bit more to the thin plot, specifically exactly how this crazy plan unfolds (and it's a doozy), but saying any more would basically be revealing the entire movie. Let's just say what follows is an uber-gory chain of events packed with more gratuitous nudity and visceral thrills than one could ask for from trashy low-budget fare. Mitsutake doesn't hold back any of the carnage here at all, and the effects are actually a lot better than some movies with far bigger budgets. 'Gun Woman' most certainly isn't a film for the squeamish, but gore-hounds should get their fill and then some -- that's for sure.
The acting from the supporting cast ranges from stiff to terrible, but fortunately the three main actors almost makes you forget about that aspect of the movie. Kamata brings a healthy dose of charisma to his role, and Narita truly embodies one of the most vile and creepiest villains in recent memory (Seriously, this dude is bound to give you nightmares). But this is really Asami's show, and for someone who doesn't have to deliver a single line of dialogue in the entire movie, she seems to be giving it her all and sells her plight convincingly. She's quite a sight to see, and no, I'm not just saying that because she's completely in the nude for most of the run time.
The story (or should I say the legend?) of the "Gun Woman" is revealed primarily through flashback, via a Tarantino-esque conversation between a hit man (Matthew Miller) and his overly-tanned driver (Dean Simone) on their way to Vegas. This part of the movie -- which serves mainly as a kind of plot thickening agent so to speak -- does start to get tiresome by the halfway mark, however, mainly because these guys just aren't very interesting. But in all fairness, it's not like these segments really detract from the experience all that much, and Mitsutake deserves some credit for the attempt -- even if it didn't entirely work.
To be honest, 'Gun Woman' is hardly what most would call a particularly "good" movie -- even though it apparently won the Special Jury Prize at the 2014 Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival. But the truth is I kinda dug the drive-in type vibe that this hardcore revenge flick has going for it and Asami sure does make one badass heroine. Cult film fans may want to see her naked wrath in action, but if copious amounts of blood and skin isn't your thing you'll probably want to stay clear from this release.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Shout! Factory unleashes 'Gun Woman' on Blu-ray as part of their horror/thriller Scream Factory brand. The Region A locked BD-50 disc comes housed in a standard blue keepcase. Following two brief warnings (FBI and supplemental views/opinions) as well as an advertisement for Shout TV, the Blu-ray boots up to a menu screen featuring clips from the film.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Gun Woman' comes locked and loaded with a sufficient 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer framed in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. As with most low-budget films shot with HD cameras, you can expect a generally clean and highly detailed presentation with the usual cold and sterile kind of appearance.
As noted, detail is fairly impressive, with crisp and well-defined edges especially in close-ups. Black levels are solid and consistent. Colors are decent as well, although occasionally they do have a washed-out, gritty look to them. The blood effects are surprisingly real in this movie and the streams of sticky crimson goo is definitely one of the highlights to be sure.
Contrast can run high in places, but is otherwise pretty stable. The picture doesn't offer a whole lot in terms of depth, either. There are noticeable halos in a few scenes and there are some focus issues every once in awhile. 'Gun Woman' does look on the cheap side due to the way it was filmed, however the raw digital aesthetic and any imperfections in the transfer mainly just enhance the grindhouse feel Mitsutake was aiming for.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Shout! Factory provides two audio tracks for 'Gun Woman' on Blu-ray -- a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and the default is a surprisingly decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.
Asami herself mainly just grunts and groans in the film, but the dialogue from the rest of the cast is otherwise clear for the most part. The only real nitpick is that sometimes the conversation between the hitman and his driver inside their vehicle wades into "a bit canned" territory, although that's most likely just a side effect from the shoestring budget. The retro-style soundtrack fills the room nicely and delivers some powerful bass. The LFE also does a good job enhancing gunshots and really comes alive during the big climactic finale. Although this mix is not quite demo-worthy, I have to admit 'Gun Woman' sounds much better than I expected.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Audio Commentaries: Not one, but two audio commentary tracks are provided for this Blu-ray release. The first features Writer/Director Kurando Mitsutake and Actress Asami, while Mitsutake goes solo in the second. Both are fairly informative and entertaining actually, but the second track is a bit easier to follow since the one with Asami (who doesn't speak a word of English) is entirely in Japanese with English subtitles.
Behind-The-Scenes: (HD, 48 Minutes) This piece covers how the three main stars landed their roles, Kurando Mitsutake in the director's chair, the action scenes, and the special make-up effects, but my favorite is the segment on the guns. As the movie was shot in the U.S. (as opposed to Japan which has much stricter gun laws apparently), the film crew was pretty floored how easy it was for them to purchase actual firearms for their movie as they had never seen anything like that before. Good ol' trigger-happy America! It's also fun to see what kind of antics went on in-between takes and it's obvious everyone involved had an absolute blast making this film.
Theatrical Trailers: (HD, 4 Minutes) Three trailers for 'Gun Woman' are provided here. All three are strangely almost identical, with just a few clips changed here and there and slightly different music.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives included here.
While Kurando Mitsutake's 'Gun Woman' doesn't really break any new ground as far as low-budget exploitation splatter-fests go, it does have an interesting throwback style and features Japan's rising gore queen Asami -- who is always fun to watch and is in top form here. Scream Factory's Blu-ray also comes with solid video and audio plus a few worthwhile extras to keep most fans happy. That said, this shock film most definitely isn't a movie for everyone -- so viewer discretion is advised.
- Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kurando Mitsutake and Actress Asami (In Japanese with English subtitles)
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Kurando Mitsutake (In English)
- Theatrical Trailers
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