Cool Dimension (Review)

Cool Dimension

aka Kûru dimenshon

Directed by Ishii Yoshikazu
Written by Sato Midori and Yamamoto Norihisa

Three sexy Japanese girls with guns and leather costumes kill a bunch of people. You’d think that would make a good film, and you’d be wrong! I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to squeeze almost the entire life out of a picture that should have been fun and over the top. Instead, it is a constant bore, more depressing than a kitten with AIDS, and somehow manages to make the brisk 70 minute running time feel like four hours. The general plot is some sort of f-ed up version of Charlie’s Angels, except they just kill people and sit around in various vaguely sexual poses with the Bosley character. Yeah.

One major problem is the entire characterization effort is put into depressing voiceovers while shots of the character looking glazed over, bored, and brain dead are on screen. The ramblings of the actresses would have been rejected on even the crappiest LiveJournal pages, their introspection flatter than a piece of paper. None of the characters have any real motivations or personalities, and much acting consists of staring forward or remaining completely still. We don’t know anything about the girls when the movie starts, and by the end, we still don’t know anything. Take a counter example, the movie Yo-Yo Girl Cop where we get actual characterization by the actresses acting and not doing voiceovers, actual backstories for the characters, and even a peppy soundtrack (which is still neat if you discount the songs by the actresses and just focus on the theme.) The theme here sounds like it was ripped from an experimental German black and white film from the 1950’s that has a gong banging every ten seconds or so. Not something that people will be humming in the car.

Shiori (Yoko Mitsuya) – The leader/head assassin of team Cool Dimension. For some reason wears red leather as opposed to black. Has the special ability to avoid gunshots if she completes a back flip. Yoko Mitsuya is a former child model turned actress. Shot in the back.
Mika (Mitsuho Otani) – The lesbian member of team Cool Dimension. But not lesbian enough for it to be interesting. In fact, she may not be a lesbian but just a victim of bad writing. Killed by a bunch of rival female assassins brought in by Junko.
Junko (Mika Shigeizumi) – Crazy evil member of team Cool Dimension. Why is she evil? Why not, she just is. Mika Shigeizumi must have had eyelid surgery, giving her eyes some bug-eyed look that enhances her character’s supposed insanity. The best acting in the film was done by surgery she had years earlier. Killed by Shiori.
Kurokawa (Kenichi Endo) – The Bosley character to his trio of creepy angels, Kurokawa spends most of the film in various disturbing still-life embraces with one to all of his charges. He sets off an aura of creepiness, and that was before I recognized him from Visitor Q. No dead body sex here, but Kenichi Endo is a regular fixture in Takashi Miike films.
Charlie (CGI/??? Voice) – I guess his name is Charlie, they never give it, but he gives the orders to the teams and organizes the assassination missions for the Cool Dimension team. Maybe he is Mr. Cool, or Mr. Dimension. Beside a brief appearance in the beginning, he never factors in again and is completely forgotten. It’s just that kind of movie to not bother with explaining anything.
Haruki Muraoka – Target of the group, wife was killed by corrupt politician Mr. Tsuyama ten years prior, and his daughter was injured and hidden. Killed by Junko.

We start out with narration of Shiori wondering when the voice in her head that tells her to kill started. So our first introduction to the main character has her characterized as some sort of crazy woman. Nice. She then busts into a private room in the back of a club where a womanizing cabinet minister is partying it up. His bodyguards attack, but Shiori quickly makes short work of them thanks to martial arts. Actually, her obvious stunt double takes care of this part. The Minister pulls a gun and shoots at her, but Shiori employs her signature move for the first time, dodging bullets by doing flips. Flips that make her a bigger target. The Minister fails to hit her, and she gets behind him, grabs his gun, and makes him shoot himself in the head. Then is it time for her to exit, which she does out of the back hallway. Several late to the party bodyguards chase after, but they are soon stopped by a second schoolgirl assassin, Mika, who beats them all up with a mop. Outside, Junko drives up in a sports car, and soon the two girls fast-walk over to the car, which then drives off. Pretty anti-climactic ending to the action sequence. Also, I hope you liked the action, we won’t be seeing it for a good while.

Credits play, and we get visual montages of the main characters. After that, we see the Bosley character Kurokawa bow before a CGI TV screen that is how the Charlie character communicates to them. Instead of sending the team on a vacation, instead they get a new urgent mission, find and kill someone named Haruki Muraoka for politician Mr. Tsuyama. Let’s not bother with seeing the girls get a mission briefing, instead lets watch two characters we don’t know talk. One is a reporter, the other some business president who believes in children. After the interview, we see Shiori on a motorcycle tailing the walking reporter. I’m sure a guy on foot never noticed the motorcycle that was constantly right behind him. The Reporter is a guy named Koji Kimura, and we’ll be seeing more of him in a bit. First, a shot of a CGI ruined building that is the headquarters of the Cool Dimension, where voiceover explains the plan is to infiltrate the newspaper Weekly Hunting (which is NOT a hunting magazine!) to keep an eye on a girl named Yumi who is the only link to Haruki Muraoka. This is the office where Kimura works as well, who is reading a newspaper article about the guy killed in the beginning, the paper saying it was a suicide.

Kimura arrives to work and is told to train the new recruit, who is Shiori wearing glasses. Kimura is bugged at first, because he seems to have some aversion to spending lots of alone time with a hot young girl. He is forced to take her along to get an interview with an actor, but the interview is not as advertised. They wait in the car until dark, and then ambush an actor. The actor’s bodyguard grabs Kimura, but Shiori hunts him down and gets an interview. I guess the paparazzi are much worse in Japan to the point of it being dangerous to be famous. Shiori is praised later at the office for getting a scoop her first day. Shiori then sits in her desk opposite Yumi, and keeps and eye on her. Very obviously. She just stares directly at her, if she was blind she’d know she was being looked at. Stare stare stare. See Shiori stare. Yumi gets an email on her phone, and instead of acting natural looks around all suspicious and goes to the next room to read it. I guess no one in Japan has heard of the word “subtlety.” The email is from Haruki, who gives Yumi the code messages they will use to communicate.

That night, Shiori hacks the work computer of Yumi, and then the Cool Dimension team meets back at the CGI building to all four sit around a table holding hands while random video clips of Haruki play in the background. They don’t talk for a while, and then slowly give status reports. Later, Shiori is back on her motorcycle following the walking Yumi, Shiori couldn’t be more obvious that she was following her even if she was a marching band. Yumi then gets kidnapped by three other random girls, and Shiori does nothing and just follows the van they dragged her to. These new girls turn out to be a rival group of female assassins, because Japan is just swarming with groups of hot female assassins. If you ever meet any female from Japan who is only slightly attractive, they have been sent to kill you, so run for your life! The new girls demand to know where Haruki is, but Yumi doesn’t know so they kill her and drive off after dumping her body. Shiori drives up, grabs her phone, hacks it, and finds out she was meeting Haruki tomorrow at the metro station.

It’s now tomorrow, so all three girls are now wandering around the metro station looking for Haruki. As subtlety has not only been thrown out the window but had a parade march over the corpse, the three girls speak to each other via those secret service ear radios not even trying to look like they are on a cell phone or something not secret spy related. Haruki shows up and Shiori follows him to the elevator. She’s ready to kill him, but Haruki asks her who hired her. He says he doesn’t care if she kills him, but wants to finish his plan first. Then he gets off the elevator and she lets him go. What a terrible assassin. Cool Dimension? More like Fool Dimension. It is a Cruel Dimension that forces me to watch these Tool Dimensions who should be forced to eat Gruel Dimension. Go back to assassin School Dimension you stupid Mule Dimensions. I’m going to listen to some Ja Rule Dimension.

Kurokawa meets a politician named Mr. Tsuyama, who is the guy who hired the hit on Haruki. After the meeting where Kurokawa says Haruki isn’t dead year, Mr. Tsuyama then goes to visit his mistress, as young girl named Yukiko who is probably still in college. Because Mr. Tsuyama hasn’t done anything evil yet (except hire teenage girls to kill Haruki) we now watch him make his mistress have sex with some random guy while he watches. Now there is a scandal we haven’t had yet in America (but probably will sometime soon!) I bet spots to intern for Mr. Tsuyama fill up real fast. Mr. Tsuyama doesn’t let the guy finish, and kicks him out to get it on with the half-sexed up girl himself. This whole sequence is weird and disturbing, with that compounded by the creepiness throughout the movie and the fact it is a Japanese sex scene so the girl is acting like she’s being penetrated by barbed wire or something.

The internet is abuzz about a photo of someone giving someone else money. Seriously. Maybe if it was a photo of a cat talking about cheeseburgers, but I’m not buying this, movie! I guess Haruki really knows how to market his viral photos. At the newspapers, Kimura gets a copy of the photo, but the Chief says they won’t do anything about it. Instead they are to pursue a lead about a tub girl at a lemon party. Shiori is quitting the job, and even gives notice and everything instead of just disappearing outright like a normal secret assassin. Japan is too polite. Kimura asks her out on a date but nothing comes of it.

It’s depressing time again, as Kurokawa and the girls sit on a couch and stare off into space. We find out that Haruki’s daughter is still alive but hidden. Also Mika likes Shiori or something, we get some odd flashbacks and Mika’s voiceover says she wants to be with Shiori forever and pets a Chihuahua. Then Junko gets a flashback, but her voiceover tells us she loves to kill, and she kills a Chihuahua. Take that, Taco Bell! Beverly Rot In Hell Chihuahua! Shiori having emotional turmoil and stares at a photo of a happy family. Nothing else happens, she just stares off into nothing. Acting, people, let’s try it sometime! At least Junko randomly overacts and uses her crazy bug eyes sometimes.

All three girls find Haruki’s wheelchair-bound daughter Mina, and Junko menaces her, willing to kill her if she doesn’t turn in her father. Shiori interferes, slicing the daughter’s face instead. Mina’s caretaker insists they don’t know where Haruki is but that he called recently. Instead of continuing with things happening, the movie turns into another boring narrative by Shiori about how she’s depressed and we see in a flashback how she was taken in as a child by Kurokawa. After the flashback they get Haruki on the phone and tell him to show up or they will hurt his daughter. He arrives at the field they agree to meet at, and wants his daughter freed. But the girl in the wheelchair in the field is just Mika dressed up. They take him with them, and Haruki says he made the photo of someone giving someone money blurry on purpose so Mr. Tsuyama could apologize. So he killed your wife, crippled your daughter and sent people to kill you, but you think you should give him a chance to apologize. Is there anyone in this film who isn’t as dumb as a wet sack of mud?

The girls take him to his old place and want to know where the data is. He actually tells them, it is actually in his own place, and Mika retrieves it. She gives the disk to Junko, who promptly shoots Mika in the gut! Shiori flips over to Mika (all the while dodging bullets with her cartwheels despite looking clumsy and oafish. Junko lets in five other girls with baseball bats (three of which were the rival girls from a previous scene) who put a tarp over Shiori and Mika, then beat them with baseball bats. None of these five extra girls ever get names, so they don’t get any here. Finally, the extra girl who seems to be the leader stabs the tarp with a sword. They then don’t bother to check if the girls are dead.

Yes, they don’t bother to check. Wet sacks of mud, all of them. Shiori comes out of the tarp alive and is knocked unconscious by one of the extra girls. All the girls depart with Haruki, and Shiori and Mika are left bleeding on the floor. Mika gets her death scene in Shiori’s arms after Shiori wakes up. Three of the evil girls realize how stupid it was to just leave the other girls without checking them, so they return to finish the job. Shiori kicks one soundly, then advances on the other two armed with pipes, demanding o know where Junko is. The two girls look scared, but it cuts away before we see them beaten. Junko is busy blackmailing the politician for more money (and wearing a new white coat because she’s suddenly a fashion junkie.) Junko shoots Haruki in the shoulder after he yells at her about his daughter. The two remaining evil girls are standing guard outside, and Shiori charges them with pipes wrapped to her hands (pipes must be the ultimate weapon in Cool Dimension World, which is not to be confused with Cool World, the guy sucked into a comic book movie.) One of those girls has a sword, but they both lose and Shiori beats the sword into the girl who was carrying it.

Now for the final confrontation against Junko. Shiori asks Junko “Why?” and Junko just responds by attacking Shiori. And that is a metaphor for the film as a whole. They don’t bother explaining anything. Had the film been any fun, we probably could overlook that, but instead, we just get angrier and angrier. They fight pipes vs. Junko’s bamboo sticks, and Junko ends up losing her sticks. Luckily, she has a gun (why didn’t she just use it in the first place?) and grazes Shiori’s face. The rest of her blasts are ineffective as Shiori is flipping around and dodging them. Shiori then uses her belt as a whip to disarm Junko (this is just as stupid as it sounds here) and the two girls fistfight.

Haruki throws the gun to Shiori, but both girls leap for it. Shiori manages to get it with her feet (!!!) and then kicks it up and shoots Junko. Then Shiori hugs Junko and snaps her neck. And Haruki dies also, due to the lethal shoulder wound.

Kurokawa tries to hug Shiori and kiss her on the mouth, saying they have a new job. Shiori brushes him off and we get her walking slowly outside. She’s going to die. Die. DIE! And she does, Kurokawa shoots her in the back, because we all saw it coming and didn’t even care enough to warn Shiori. The only regret I have is Kurokawa didn’t die as well. The movie ends with a pointless point-of-view shot from CGI rain, and then the closing credits have more music during them than the entire film. We go from total silence to blasting JPop, which is very jarring. It is less a cool dimension and more a crap dimension, a boring and depressing slice of Japanese movie pie. Not everything some manga artist scribbles on a paper needs to be made into a film, and even if it is, there is no reason to make the film uninteresting and stupid. Unless you just want to make your audience angry. And it did, it did… I highly recommend not watching this waste of time unless you are putting off something really unpleasant, like doing a colon cleansing of a yak with your tongue. And even then breath mint is pretty cheap…

Rated 3/10 (Stare, stare, stare)

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