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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New on Video: Female Firepower in Gun Woman

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 2:00 PM

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The primary cover art of Kurando Mitsutake's 2014 extreme action-horror movie Gun Woman, which Shout! Factory is releasing on both DVD and Blu-ray on May 26, is not entirely representative of the film's contents. There is indeed a woman who uses guns, but not quite in the badass-shooting-rampage manner that this image suggests. She does it in a far more badass way, and though it's a revenge picture, we're into more disturbing and physiological (and Japanese) territory here, more Planet Terror than Kill Bill — and anything that's more Robert Rodriguez than Quentin Tarantino is all right in my book.


The exhibition poster art, which is also available on the reverse side the Shout! Factory slipcover, is a more faithful image:

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Mayumi (Asami, about whom more in a moment) is a young woman who agrees to let crazed but sexy doctor Mastermind (Kairi Narita) surgically implant a disassembled gun insider her body so she can be smuggled as a corpse into the blindingly-white underground lair of sadistic nutjob Hamazaki's Son (Noriaki R. Kamata), and get revenge for the murder of Mastermind's wife.

As you can imagine, Gun Woman has no shortage of nudity and extreme violence, though in the tradition of the 1970s-'80s revenge pictures to which it pays homage, much of that isn't until the third act, which Asami performs almost entirely sans clothes. In his director's commentary, just-happy-to-be-there Kurando Mitsutake goes into detail about the production of what he frequently refers to as an ultra-low budget film, because it really is. Indeed, you know the kind of ride you're in for when one of the first people on screen has just about the fakiest fake mustache ever.

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Mitsutake says he shot the film in 10 days in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, for a shockingly meager amount of money — a figure which he doesn't reveal until the end credits, which roll over aerial footage shot from a helicopter tour in Las Vegas. I won't say how much it cost, but the number is only slightly above the SF Weekly's 2013 print circulation. But goddamn if every nickel isn't on the screen.

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A word about Ms. Asami, who does a fine job in a grueling, thankless, and almost entirely silent role. As Mitsutake observes in his commentary, she managed to perfectly nail some scenes which could only be shot once, such as when she cuts off much of her long hair to serve as an impromptu bandage for a shoulder wound. She's also a former model and porn actress, a fixture in the Japanese "pink film" genre, including winning the pink equivalent of the Best Actress Oscar for Female Prisoner Ayaka: Tormenting and Breaking in a Bitch — which, let's face it, is probably more professional recognition than you've received lately.

Now, I normally know better to read the comments, especially on my own work (j/k, nobody reads my articles), but there's a brief thread on the movie's Shout! Factory page which speaks volumes about how hypocritical North American men are about women who choose to make a living using what genetics gave them.

A fellow whom I'll call SchmuckX objected to Shout! Factory's description of Ms. Asami as a "rising Japanese action star, writing:
Rising Japanese action star . . . yeah, pretty sure she's known for a different kind of action altogether, although they seem to be doing a good job "reinventing" her these past few years. :)
Uh-huh. In response, Mr. Dark from Dread Central — whose rave review of Gun Woman director Mitsutake credits with getting the film a distribution deal with Shout! Factory — replied thusly:
Watch this movie and tell me she's not an action star. If not before, she definitely is after. Asami kicks massive amounts of ass in this thing.
In response, SchmuckX writes 365 words about how it's just not right that former porn actresses like Ms. Asami —or, as he puts it, "Dead-eyed Asami and her hardcore porn-bred ilk" — are allowed to take work away from women who haven't done porn, just because they're comfortable with…
…having buckets of fluid dumped on or sprayed at them, be it stage blood, alien venom, robot oil, zombie guts or, in their prior but often concurrent careers, large volumes of human ejaculate.
And lest you think he's some kind of prude —
I have no problem with porn, either. [Just the women who appear in porn and then have the temerity to remove the scarlet "A" from their chests. —SC] I'm just getting tired of the Japanese in particular (and pretty much exclusively among film centres), foisting one barely- to moderately-talented former sponge after another on us when they could just as easily find countless actresses for these roles who don't bring the baggage of having once been human receptacles.
So he likes to wank it as much of the next guy, but he doesn't doesn't want to have to contend with watching these "former sponges" try to be in non-porn, because of the baggage they bring — or, more accurately, the baggage he brings.

I just can't even. Ugh. Ugh. I believe Ms. Asami sums it up best in her second-to-last shot of the movie:

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Mitsutake has made it clear he wants to do a sequel, and indeed the film ends with the title card "Gun Woman Will Return," and I sincerely hope she does, both to further Ms. Asami's career and to further annoy the likes of SchmuckX.



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Sherilyn Connelly

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