This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Not in the quality stakes, nor the acting or story or cinematography or any of the other benchmarks by which we distinguish “movies” and “cinema” – but by the fact that this is easily one of the most enjoyable films I have ever had the pleasure to sit through.
And yes, it is called ROBOGEISHA.
The story involves Yoshie, a meek girl who has lived in the shadow of her older sister Kikue for a long time (The subtitles on the DVD I have refer to her as Kikuyakko, but everything else I’ve read calls her Kikue, and that’s easier to type). Yoshie is the shy wallflower to the incredibly domineering Kikue, and the two most certainly do not get along. Kikue is a geisha, and all around her a quick to remind Yoshie that she is not beautiful, nor will she ever be as beautiful Kikue, nor a geisha either.
Tables are turned, however, when Yoshie accidentally catches the attention of Hikaru – a wealthy businessman and owner of a steel company. Kikue is outraged, as she wanted Hikaru for herself. However, the two are invited to dinner with Hikaru, where he quickly indoctrinates him into his army of Geisha assassins. As the two sisters try their best to outdo each other, they both turn more and more to mechanising parts of the body in order to have the better edge in the competition. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot, because it’s a damn fun movie, and while I can’t imagine the experience would be ruined by having twists spoiled, it’s fun to see what directions the movie goes in, and I’ll say that it’s actually quite surprising at some points. Make no mistake, this movie has no other intention to be high-camp fun, and it absolutely brings its B-game.
In a movie that has visuals like this:
you don’t really expect it to have the traditional elements of movies like “character” or “plot” – but it surprisingly has a fair bit of both! This is the movie that has a main character who is both a geisha-assassin AND a robot – and while you get all the free-wheeling hi-jinks you could ask for, it also hits some remarkably sweet moments. The entire movie is based around the good ol’ battle-of-the-sisters and they manage to work in some genuinely touching moments between the two of them – its surprising to see that a movie with characters who can eject katanas from their mouths, armpits or butts would feature a focus on the girls as actual characters.
That said, it’s the fun that you come for in a movie like this, and there is more in here than I’ve seen in a long time. It’s absurd and ludicrous but so good. The effects can be hokey at times; the “unrated” version of the film (which has been put on DVD in Australia) has copious amounts of CGI blood superimposed on the footage, and it’s incredibly badly done, but not in such a way that it detracts from the film at all. Other than moments such as these, the film is quite well made – costuming ranges from basic to sublime, and for the most part everything seems to fit the mood and tone right – for instance, towards the end when one character has their face made half of metal to indicate their total transformation into a mechanical being, it’s meant to be a bit eerie, and it is. Other times, when the shots are meant to evoke peace and tranquillity, they do. In a film like this, it’s not important to have everything work like that, so it’s nice to see the effort there where it’s not necessarily needed, as the film is being held up by its premise alone.
It’s shot in this frenetic style, with the camera barely staying stationary for more than three seconds at a time (but it’s not shaky-cam) and it adds certain energy to the film, without substituting it in where it doesn’t exist. The film moves along at a cracking pace, but without feeling like it’s going too fast, and it means that the energetic nature of it is just inherent rather than being forced. I imagine it would have been easy for this to be another film driven by outrageous ideas that becomes a bore to watch, but it all works in such a way that you just keep watching and it’s just an absolute blast of a time.
This is the rare pleasure of a film that can’t ever be played seriously, that has a silly premise and some of the most outrageous ideas and situations, and it all fits in together perfectly to become this fantastic little gem to watch purely for the sake of enjoying yourself. It’s awesome – and honestly one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever sat down to watch. Check it out as soon as you can.
Click the pic below to see the trailer: