Friday, November 14, 2014

Objectified by the Supremely Stupid

Even a generally misogynist film might be expected to have one or two moments unrelated to misogyny. Which makes the near one hundred percent misogyny of 2014's Gun Woman (女イ本銃) seem like a statistical improbability at the very least. And yet I find myself contemplating whether or not the movie's plain, garden variety stupidity isn't a more significant defining feature.

The movie begins with an American hit man (Matthew Miller) shooting a naked American woman (Marianne Bourg) from behind while she's taking a shower. He explains to his accomplice, his driver (Dean Simone), as they're going to Las Vegas for "extraction" that the woman was unfinished business of a friend of his. Neither actor gives a convincing performance and the movie looks like it was shot on the cheapest digital camera available.

Most of the film's story is told by the hit man to the driver. The son of a wealthy Japanese business man, who's referred to as "Hamazaki's Son" (Noriaki Kamata) thoughout the film, is exiled in America with his massive inheritance. He's a serial rapist but he especially loves having sex with women's corpses.

The driver expresses surprise at the concept of necrophilia to which the hit man responds necrophilia has been practised throughout history, the two already sounding like dim witted screenwriters more than hard bitten criminals. But this impression deepens as the driver questions illogical points in the hit man's story and the hit man responds with something even more illogical as an explanation.

You see, for some reason, instead of having his elite team of mercenary body guards acquire corpses, Hamazaki's son has to go to a third party which maintains a bunker out in the desert manned by three people. They're armed with finger print ID guns--which only function for one person each--and clients have to be thoroughly inspected before they're allowed to have sex with corpses.

It's at this absurd place that Mastermind (Kairi Narita) plans to take his revenge on Hamazaki's son by putting a sex slave through rigorous martial arts and firearms training, surgically implanting her with the components of a gun which she'll then remove with her hands when she's inside the necrophilia bunker after she's been taken inside in a drug induced, unconscious, corpse like state. She'll then assassinate the target before she bleeds out in twenty two minutes.

Obviously this is an exploitation film and, as a fan of exploitation films, I don't expect them to have iron clad plots but something slightly coherent is nice. Really, a bigger problem is the fact that for all the time we spend looking at naked women being shot and having objects inserted into them while they moan, gasp, and bleed, in the entire film there are only two lines spoken by female characters. One is "Honey!" from Mastermind's wife in a flashback as she's being raped and murdered by Hamazaki's son, and the other is from the female guard at the necrophilia bunker when she reports into her radio that one of the other guards is dead.

Considering it's an awfully small place, it is rather remarkable that Gun Woman (Asami) has a long action sequence with the first guard after which she has time to remove and assemble her surgically implanted gun before anyone notices anything's up. I guess just because a place has top notch security doesn't mean it would have a security camera.

One of several perplexing positive reviews on the imdb page for the film asks if Asami is the new Reiko Ike, star of 1970s Japanese exploitation films like Sex and Fury. This is a useful point of comparison because Asami and her character, other than engaging in full nude action scenes (with a thin merkin), is not at all like Reiko Ike.

Reiko Ike has lines in Sex and Fury. More importantly, she has motives and personality.

After Mastermind has tortured her and made her witness him murdering a naked woman to demonstrate the effects of blood loss, one naturally wonders why Gun Woman doesn't simply turn on him with all of her elite new skills. And at one point she does, the two get in a fist fight and she gets him on the ground and just as it looks like she might finish the job . . . she kisses him and there's a long, slow motion sex scene.

After which, she almost shoots him but stops when he explains that he's training her to take revenge for his dead wife. Which somehow wipes the slate for the woman she's witnessed him killing for no reason, I guess, because she puts the gun down and becomes the physical embodiment of his motives.

There are some nice action sequences and the women are beautiful but nothing of quality really emerges from under the great shadow of stupidity hanging over the film. I wasn't sure at first why I had this movie on my list but I remembered during the exposition sequence about Hamazaki's son. The father, Hamazaki, is credited as being played by Tatsuya Nakadai in a special appearance--Nakadai being the star of Akira Kurosawa's Ran and Kagemusha and having supporting roles in High and Low and Yojimbo and he appeared prominently in several other good Japanese films throughout the 60s like The Face of Another and When a Woman Ascends the Stairs. Here is his appearance in Gun Woman:

This screenshot is his whole appearance. As in, the movie presents a still image of Nakadai and slowly zooms in on it while the hit man tells the story. The greatest possible extent to which I can imagine Nakadai was involved in this movie was that possibly someone working on the film met him and asked for a picture. It's more likely the film simply used a head shot or, hell, something grabbed from a google image search. I somehow suspect he had no particular desire to be associated with this film.

No comments:

Post a Comment