Written and Directed by Noboru Iguchi
Robogeisha is exactly what you would expect from a movie with that title. Needless to say, that means it gets approval here on TarsTarkas.NET. We got geisha, robots, robot geisha, dudes getting killed by geisha, women with various weapons built into their body, fake blood spraying everywhere, and women kicking butt.
Now, Robogeisha sounds like the kind of film that doesn’t have some sort of commentary on culture of Japan or the world, and you would be right to think so, except for the fact that you are wrong. The thing is, Robogeisha is unaware that is has such comments, so we’re really grasping at straws here. Giant, obvious straws.
The plot sort of follows the basic lines of Memoirs of a Geisha for a few minutes before veering off into insane territory. But we have the similarities with the sisters being rivals (substituting the Sayuri/Pumpkin rivalry) and the steel industry tycoon. I’m not saying Memoirs of a Geisha would have been a better film had it had robot geisha fighting a walking building, but it probably would have.
But first the cast…
The opening is more of a teaser short than part of the actual film, a hallmark of these types of flicks (though the one from Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl actually fit in at the end of the storyline). In it a politician is targeted for assassination in the next three minutes, so he decides to spend the rest of his life dancing with his geisha, who he gropes. I guess if you just got three minutes… The groping turns out to be a mistake, as the geisha is a robot who quickly pops open and out jump two Tengu women. A Tengu is a traditional Japanese spirit with a phallic symbolization – the Tengu women helpfully explain this to us, because they don’t want you Googling things on your smart phone while the movie is going. The Tengu women are named Tengun and are dressed skimpily in tengu-styled bikinis with swords, and they taunt the bodyguards.
The bodyguards are all killed in various bloody ways including lots of impalings with the various Tengu noses, and topped off with butt shurikins. Yes, you read that right, butt shurikins. Meanwhile, the politician is being menaced by the robotic geisha and her circular saw mouth, until another geisha stops by…she is….Yoshie Robo Geisha!
Yoshie kicks the other robot geisha’s butt, but now it/s flashback time to figure out just what Yoshie RoboGeisha is…
Robogeisha is the tale of two sisters, who are rivals of a sort. Basically because one sister, Yoshie Kagusa, is the poor servant girl who works where her older sister Kikuyakko Kagusa is a geisha. Having read Memoirs of a Geisha and also having watched Memoirs of a Geisha, I am familiar with what it means to be a geisha in a world made up by some white guy who writes bad novels made into awful films. So for real geisha knowledge, you must turn to the film Geisha vs. Ninjas, where you learn geishas totally fight ninjas and all sorts of other people all the time. Kikuyakko, however, does not fight other people except her own sister Yoshie, who she regularly beats around and calls ugly and worthless. Yoshie puts up with her crap because Yoshie is a mattress.
Kikuyakko’s big test to impress Kageno Steel heir Hikaru Kageno goes awry when Yoshie ruins everything. But Hikaru does get impressed when he sees Yoshie ripping a phone book in half with her rage, this shows she has much strength hidden beneath her servile exterior. Hikaru Kageno quickly stages an attack on him and Yoshie from a jilted lover, who Yoshie beats up handily (then Yoshie become embarrassed by her violent outburst and runs off embarrassed.) Hikaru Kageno has the Tengun dispose of the attacker by melting her face off with their acid breastmilk. Let’s see Avatar top that!
Hikaru Kageno sets up a meeting at the Kageno Steel company headquarters the next day for both of the sisters, who see that the company headquarters is a castle in the middle of nowhere. There are also some weird people hiding in the bushes watching everything. Probably paparazzi looking for princesses to kill.
Hikaru Kageno’s father is the company chairman Kenyama Kageno, who goes off on a big rant about how he is a geisha because the company will build military weapons, then reveals they are making a gigantic bomb. The steel company is financing the overthrow of Japan to make it better or something. Because that works out so well the last time Japan was controlled by a military dictatorship! The Kagenos also use the Tengun to kidnap Kikuyakko and tell Yoshie they need her to work for them.
Well, it is a tough job market, so I guess Yoshie should be lucky she has a job… Oh, wait, this company is a psychotic murdering company! The particular job Yoshie is being recruited for is to join their army of assassin geisha, who we soon see doing military training in skimpy workout clothes! This movie just got a million times better!
But to prove Yoshie is The One, they force her to fight her own sister Kikuyakko. Yoshie refuses to fight, but Kikuyakko has no such qualms. She quickly stabs her sister, finally enraging Yoshie enough to fight back. She beats down her sister and then becomes one of the top assassin geisha while sister Kikuyakko is forced to clean the place like Yoshie did long ago.
Eventually Kikuyakko works her way up the ranks by killing a girl who wants to quit, then gets modified so she has machine guns in her breasts. Yep, and they’re used, too. It’s total Austin Powers fembot city! Yoshie retaliates with swords that come out of her armpits. This is the most ridiculous arms race in movie history! Just go with it, dude.
The girls are sent to kill the yakuza Kogure, who is the main bad dude from Machine Girl. The all-girl squad fights him, but his two bodyguards kill all the other girls. Yoshie slices up the bodyguards to find out they are robots, robots who have combined into a single robot who is getting the best of her. Kikuyakko finishes off Kogure with some butt shurikens and is then stabbed protecting Yoshie from the robot bodyguard. Finally, the sisters act like real sisters, but only for a few seconds.
Back at the base, Yoshie rejects being made a Tengun and instead becomes a solo assassin geisha. The Tengun are a little miffed that she doesn’t want to join their numbers, and besides them hating her Kikuyakko is back to hating her again. By now Yoshie is pretty much all robot. She’s probably just barely human enough to go back in time Terminator-style, but the subject is never brought up for some reason! Movie, you gotta get your priorities in gear!
Solo Assassin Geisha Yoshie kills a bunch of random targets, the names and faces unimportant until she’s sent to kill some old people (including one played by the Abraham Lincoln dude from Machine Girl who now is doing folk protest songs.) Yoshie finds out that they are all parents of girls taken by Kageno Steel – including the grandmother of one of the Tengun. She lets them live, only to get beaten up by the Tengun for her mercy.
Kageno Steel gives her one last chance, she must kill some terrorist dudes or they will kill her sister. As Yoshie is beating them up she discovers that the Kageno Steel company is planning on destroying Japan with a big bomb, while the mission was a trap for Yoshie as there are suicide bombs there. The plot is exploding all over, just like the suicide bombs, and after the mess Yoshie has her legs blown off, but is still functioning enough to crawl away. She’s found by the old people family members who replace her legs. They leave her behind when going to confront the company boss as her welding isn’t dry and her legs would just fall off. That might make a hilarious action sequence! I can’t imagine why they didn’t go with it.
The family members threaten to go to government if they don’t get their kids back, but they just get gunned down by the two Kagenos who now have guns implanted in their shoulders that fire as they bow. Okay, a few of the family members survive to pop up later in the film, but back to Yoshie. She has woken up and can turn her legs into a tank! I remember when I first found out my legs could turn into a tank. That was right before I had to go live in that room with the padded walls for nine years. That place sucked!
The Steel family turns their castle into a giant walking robot as Godzilla-ish music plays. Yes! This movie rules. We got giant robot buildings, Godzilla-ish music, and a half-tank, half-geisha girl driving over with CGI effects of the non-top notch variety. The goal of Robo-Castle is to drop their giant bomb into Mt. Fuji in a bid to unify the country. Because that would totally happen, Japan rallying around the very people who blew up Japan. Suddenly, the 9-11 Truthers look sane. Wait, no they don’t.
Father Kenyama Kageno is gunned down by one of the surviving family members, so only Hikaru Kageno is left to control the robot on its march. As the robot smashes up the city, each skyscraper smashed has blood squirting out of it in the hilarious fashion that these movies are noted for when people lose limbs.
Yoshie gets involved in a firefight with some of the assassin girls who are on the Robo-Castle’s hands, while Yoshie is driving up the sides of buildings and smashes her way inside. There, she encounters the Tenguns in what is the most amazing sword fight to ever grace the silver screen.
Yes, Butt Swords! We got butt swords fighting butt swords and it rules. This movie is all about the butt.
Eventually the last surviving family members run into the Tenguns (who are their missing family members) and they all kill each other, leaving Yoshie along to head on and find her sister and stop Hikaru Kageno.
Kageno is controlling the robot, but he’s protected by Kikuyakko…who has been removed of all memories of her sister and turned into a Super RoboGeisha. The sisters fight, with Yoshie desperately trying to get her sister to remember her sisterly love. I won’t spoil it, except that she does and the two sisters combine together into one geisha to fight Hikaru Kageno. I guess I did spoil it. SPOILERS!!!
They combined geisha punches Hikaru around, and whatever they do to him also affects the RoboCastle, including flying up in the air and puking.
If you see one movie this year with a puking robot…
The combined RoboGeisha punches him until the RoboCastle blows up.
There is an epilogue with the sisters performing dancing together as geisha at a festival finally. Wait a minute, does that mean they are dead? We never saw them get off of the RoboCastle…But..this whole thing is a flashback! Does that mean this is a flashback, or is it after the flashback? And who targeted the guy in the beginning for death with a robogeisha when the Kageno Steel company is already destroyed? Why am I worried so much about continuity in a movie about RoboGeisha fighting a giant RoboCastle? Because I’m awesome, that’s why!
So The End!
Oh, hey, I guess I was talking about how this movie had a message or something and then got sidetracked by all the crazy crap. So, first of all, giant steel companies that kidnap girls and train them to be robotic geisha assassins are evil. That’s a message we can all agree on, except for certain conservatives/libertarians who will probably argue some crap about the free market allowing for girl kidnapping and assassination training and volcano bombs. But those guys are dumb, so fuck ’em. Secondly, the movie shows that in order to get through life you must learn to love your family and not treat them as rivals. They are your allies, and the people you should be able to turn to for help when things go horribly wrong, like a guy is controlling a giant robot in an attempt to destroy your home country. And thirdly, you should have guns implanted in your breasts. Japan is truly the land of important messages.
Rated 8/10 (walking time, familiar face, another familiar face, cool old lady, butt shurikens, blasting the blasters, spiking your sister, on the road again…)