I must be a glutton for punishment. There I am, always whinging on about the quality of the check discs we receive, lamenting those DVD-Rs, those hastily burnt off discs with something resembling a movie on them, but bearing no resemblance to the final release product, and quite often just breaking down in the DVD player as the heat gets to them. And then Samurai Princess turns up for review, once again on one of those despised purple discs. I was about to put it in the circular file, but then the blurb caught my eye, "the erotic-gore action movie Samurai Princess", "starring adult video star Aino Kishi", and "at the forefront of the new wave of Japanese extreme cinema." Curse you evil temptation! I'm guessing that 4Digital Asia are hoping that evil temptation will draw in more eager punters as well.
A young girl and her friends wandered into the wrong neck of the woods, in an alternate techno-feudal era Japan, and fell foul of a pair of murderous androids who take inordinate pleasure in their art of raping, murdering and dismembering their victims. The young girl is the sole survivor, and left for dead buried beneath the limbs and viscera of her friends. She's found by a wandering doctor, and he pieces her back together, and a passing nun reanimates her with her friends' tormented souls. Reborn as the android Samurai Princess, she now seeks vengeance against the androids that tormented her. She's joined in her quest by a wandering cybernetic minstrel, whose guitar literally produces death metal.
Yeah, I know, DVD-R. Letterbox NTSC transfer, stereo sound, burnt in subs, and a stupid frame counter at the top of the screen. It all means nothing, depending on the quality of the final retail release. I do hope the subtitles are better though, as the subtitles I had to put up with seriously needed the intervention of a grammar Nazi… and a syntax Totalitarian… and a typo Communist.
When will I ever learn! It's a rare horror film that entertains me, and in fact, the gorier the horror gets, the less seriously I take it. Gore splatter is not a genre I go out of my way for, and with rubber and plastic body parts being sliced off, and arterial sprays of blood exploding outwards as if from the nozzle of a jet washer, my instinctive response is one of hilarity rather than fear. Of course that may be the intent of films like this, in which case Samurai Princess does what it sets out to.
You have your zombie android heroine, scarred but sexy, wielding swords, and slicing and dicing her foes with impunity. You have your irredeemably obnoxious villains, you have your exploito-fodder victims, and you have blood, limbs and viscera by the bucket-load. There's a cyberpunk tinge to the story, with a Frankenstein of a doctor going around converting hapless victims into murderous cyborgs, and you have your pointless, but aesthetically pleasing soft focus sex scene, to get good value from your Adult Video Star.
But the story isn't worth a damn. It's slow, it's disjointed, and it makes very little sense. The acting isn't all that astounding either, varying between wooden and over the top. Not that you'd pay much attention anyway, as you're really here for the splatter, right? Except the effects are very cheap, cheesy, and cheerful. Realism isn't a major aim here, with plenty of red paint and rubber entrails looking about as convincing as meatballs in tomato soup. You think that the film is all over and then you realise there's 25 minutes to go. I was literally clock watching, thanks to the frame counter, and that's inconceivable in a film only 80 minutes in length. Still, you have to appreciate a film where the heroine can rip off her own breasts and use them as grenades. And you will stick around to see Chainsaw Leg Guy and Intestine Whip Girl get their comeuppances, although you'll be better off drunk when you do.