Kunoichi (Review)


aka Kunoichi Ninja Girl

Directed and written by Seiji Chiba

A woman working the fields and tending to her baby is ganked by a neck rope thrown by an unseen kidnapper. Thus is the world of Kunoichi!

As you probably know by now, TarsTarkas.NET is a fan of martial arts films, particularly female martial artists. And as Rina Takeda is one of the up and coming women taking the films to the new decade, we’ve been following her career closely. From High-Kick Girl! to KG – Karate Girl, Takeda has matured as an actress and martial artist. And Takeda has taken on more and more projects, keeping herself busy. But Kunoichi is a step back in the quality department, and I was disappointed at the final project.

Kunoichi is marketed as a period martial arts piece. We know it won’t be a giant spectacle, and I fully expect a low-budget affair. It’s set in the woods, a familiar place for fans of low budget films, as that way they have an excuse for no extras running around. And permits are easier to get for running around in the middle of nowhere (if they even bothered!) But Kunoichi is surprising in how low budget it looks and feels. It’s a martial arts film with barely any martial arts. That’s not what I signed up for! The only decent fight is around the 40 minute mark, and is over with 10 minutes to go on our hour-long film. Besides a few teases of fighting and some kicking, there is little else, and nothing that is choreographed for more than one move. Disappointing is an understatement.

Stop for me, it’s the CLAW!

Director Seiji Chiba has put out numerous low budget films in recent years. Alien vs Ninja garnered some praise, and probably made funding of Kunoichi easier. But while Alien vs Ninja was a mix of comedy and action, Kunoichi is stoically serious in tone. You don’t get the sense that anyone is having fun here, and that hurts the film as well. I don’t expect Giggles Ninja Girl, but one or two goofy things wouldn’t have hurt.

And once again, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

Kisaragi (Rina Takeda) – She’s just a Koga clan ninja getting kidnapped and then killing the kidnappers after a while. No hurry.
Shimotsuki (Mitsuki Koga) – The serious Iga clan kidnapper who is good at martial arts and dressing for his gig on The Black Pearl. Mistuki Koga is an accomplished martial artist who has appeared and done stunt work in many films, including Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
Hizuki (Masanori Mimoto) – An Iga clan braggart and annoying kidnapper, who gets kicked in the head many many many times until he is dead. DEAD. Spoilers.
A Mysterious Man (Yuichi Sato) – This guy just shows up and frees the women, then starts goofing around and giving women to some Leprosy Guy. He’s like an internet troll in real life. What a jerk! There is frustratingly little about Yuichi Sato the actor online, except he might be part of a boy band called PureBoys. That name sounds too perverted to be used in the States, even though it’s probably the most vanilla thing ever.
Leprosy Guy (Kentaro Shimazu) – This crazy Leprosy Guy just gotta hump! Doesn’t matter who or what. OF course, he turns out to be B-movie mainstay Kentaro Shimazu. Why wouldn’t he be? See him also in Machine Girl, RoboGeisha, and Mutant Girls Squad.

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Neo-Action Double Bill

Remember when we wrote about Hard Revenge, Milly? Of course you do, because you check this website every day! So that 44 minute film is part of a double feature! The Neo-Action Double Feature! It’s like Grindhouse except not four hours long. Milly is being teamed with director Isao Kaneko’s The Masked Girl, about a girl who is genetically modified to be a superheroine by a villain.

Plot of Hard Revenge, Milly

In Hard Revenge, Milly, abolition of gun control laws at some indeterminate point in the future causes Yokohama to become a lawless bastion of violent crime. The worst of the new breed of criminals, “The Jack Brothers”—named for their leader, Jack (Mitsuki Koga)—brutally murder the husband and baby of Milly (Miki Mizuno) in front of her eyes and leave her for dead. Milly survives the incident and vows to get revenge. After receiving sword training from a master named Jubei, Milly infiltrates the abandoned factory The Jack Brothers use as their base of operations and murders Jack’s henchmen one by one, leading to a final bloody showdown.

Plot of The Masked Girl

In The Masked Girl an ordinary high school student named Ai Hoshino (Yuki Shimizu) is kidnapped on her way home from school. She later wakes up and finds herself held captive in the hideout of “Joker” and the evil Black Maria (Aiko Sato). Luckily she’s able to escape with the help of Aoyama (Tsuyoshi Kida), but not before being genetically altered by Joker—giving her super-human powers. While being pursued by agents of Joker, Ai confides in her friend Yumi (Shizuka Nakamura), but discovers Yumi has also been altered by Black Maria and brainwashed into swearing allegiance to Joker. Ai is forced to fight Yumi, but more powerful enemies will soon arrive. Eventually Ai gets a superhero outfit from Aoyoma and becomes “The Masked Girl” to confront Black Maria’s minions.

Nippon Cinema has the trailer of The Masked Girl, which is also at the Official Site for the two films.

Masked Girl

Hard Revenge, Milly

The Masked Girl

Hard Revenge, Milly

Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (Review)

Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

aka Gojira tai Mosura tai Mekagojira: Tokyo S.O.S.


Noboru Kaneko as Yoshito Chujo
Miho Yoshioka as Pilot Azusa Kisaragi
Mitsuki Koga as Mechagodzilla Pilot Kyosuke Akiba
Hiroshi Koizumi as Dr. Shinichi Chujo
Akira Nakao as Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi
Koichi Ueda as General Dobashi
Koh Takasugi as Colonel Togashi
Masami Nagasawa as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Chihiro Otsuka as Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Directed by Masaaki Tezuka

March of Godzilla 2 soldiers on with the sequel to Godzilla X Mechagodzilla, Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.! This time, Mothra has been thrown into the mix, main characters have been ceremoniously and unceremoniously dumped, while suddenly the movie goes all sanctity of life on us. It comes out of left field, but before we know it we’re getting pelted from every direction. If we can ignore the message, underneath it all we have a pretty entertaining Godzilla film, much better than its predecessor. In addition to Mothra making a reappearance, we also get a reappearance from Hiroshi Koizumi! He reprises his role of Dr. Shinichi Chujo that he did in the original Mothra back in 1961. Having met Mr. Koizumi about two years ago, I remember he said he was happy that he could reprise an older role, and was proud of his appearances in Godzilla films. The best part is this follows the continuity of this film series, for in this reality Godzilla never attacked Japan again after 1954 until he reappeared in 1998. However, monsters such as Mothra and the Gargantuas plagued Japan, so they created Special Forces to deal with them. Thus the Mothra movie happened, and so did Dr. Shinichi Chujo. Hiroshi Koizumi has been seen here numerous times: Godzilla vs. Mothra, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, and Gigantis, the Fire Monster.

This is the second to last Millennium Series Godzilla film, and currently the second to last Godzilla film, period. Rumors abound a low-budget IMAX Godzilla film might happen, but officially Toho has shut down Godzilla for the time being, to renew interest. Until that day, we have to make due with what already exists, a huge library of films, and many TV appearances (some of which we are hard at work tracking down.) Such a horrible predicament!

As stated before, this is a direct sequel to the previous year’s Godzilla X Mechagodzilla, making it the second direct sequel to a Mechagodzilla film (third if you count the fact that the second original Mechagodzilla movie was part of a continuous series of films.) Needless to say, Mechagodzilla must have a good agent who is meticulous with the sequel clause. It always does him good. Mechagodzilla is again built by humans to fight Godzilla in the previous film, and is being repaired after major damage suffered in the fight. He has a few new tricks, and loses an old one due to funding cuts. Funding cuts, the essence of action films! This is also the only Godzilla movie I remember that makes a big deal about rebuilding efforts being stalled, as much of Tokyo where they fought before is still in ruins. The rest of the city is fine, and ripe to be destroyed in the next battle. Who will emerge victorious? Will Godzilla be stopped? Why do the Shobijin dislike Mechagodzilla? Will some dumb girl carry a plant around like a baby? Will the female lead be a depressed ice queen? Will the lame spirituality subplot tank the film? These questions and more can be answered in Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.!
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