Gun Woman (2014)

A character remarks in Gun Woman that the entire story’s premise and execution sounds like it’s right out of a manga. I haven’t read many mangas in my life, but I was inclined to agree. This is one of the more ridiculous movies that you’ll see in your life, if you choose to watch it, but it’s also one that’s really enjoyable, assuming you can fully accept what it has to offer. If it’s too crazy, or too stupid, you’ll find yourself wanting to turn it off.

Here’s the basic idea: A depraved man (Noriaki Kamata) kills the wife of a doctor (Kairi Narita). The first man makes a routine of doing things like this. He likes killing, raping, and sometimes killing and then raping the dead body. That’s his thing. Well, the second man decides to take revenge. Years later, he buys a drug-addicted woman, Mayumi (Asami), off the street with the purpose of training her to be an assassin to kill the one who murdered his wife years earlier. So, he trains her up and then sends her out to do just that. This is basically the whole movie.

In fact, most of Gun Woman is the training. It’s only after all of the training that we get to see Mayumi actually attempt her mission, which involves faking her death, hiding a gun inside her body, taking her to a place where necrophiliacs go to, well, you know, and then killing everyone inside. I kid you not. Does that not get you intrigued right then and there? Or, perhaps repulsed? I wouldn’t ever claim that Gun Woman is for the faint of heart or for people who struggle to handle certain types of movies; those people who don’t immediately get excited for a film titled “Gun Woman,” for example, need not apply.

There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the story. I’ve described almost all of it here and now, and there’s little more to it than that. The plot I just detailed is being told by a couple of American assassins (Matthew Miller and Dean F. Simone), one of whom describes it as a “manga”-styled plot. They speak in English, obviously, but most of the film is Japanese. Dialogue isn’t its strong suit, anyway.

Where it succeeds is in being absolutely crazy, almost from start to finish, and by somehow managing to find some sort of realism in its insanity. I mean, you’ve read the plot description by now. Do you think any of this is possible? Looking at it from the outside, you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t, either. But the film does an admirable job of at least making it look like there’s the potential for this sort of thing to happen. It details almost every little aspect, does a touch of handwaving, and then everything seems like maybe, just maybe, it could happen.

Part of the way it does this is in the way it meticulously describes almost every element of the plan. It also doesn’t shy away from anything. We watch a woman bleed out over the course of 20 (in-movie) minutes. A graphic surgery scene takes place so that the gun parts can be hidden in Mayumi’s body. No camera tricks are applied to hide any of the violence or nudity that would risk making the film feel less realistic, even with the absurd plot.

Maybe there’s a bit too much gore. Honestly, I don’t know what a person looks like when they’re cut open and left to bleed for 20 minutes. Maybe it looks exactly like it does in this film; I don’t know and I don’t ever want to know. Gun Woman will certainly satisfy the gorehounds, at least, but it didn’t seem overly excessive while I was watching it. Maybe it is, but it didn’t feel that way at the time. I was invested in this crazy story and I wanted to see this awful villain get his comeuppance. That’s the sign of a good movie.

It also has far better acting than it probably needed to. For most people, this is going to be a semi-silly B-movie that’s being watched primarily for the ridiculous premise. But the Japanese actors are all pretty great — or at least convincing. Asami’s transformation from drug addict to assassin is great, Kairi Narita is intense in his quest for revenge, and Noriaki Kamata makes for a wonderfully despicable villain. If there’s a weak point, it’s from the two Americans, but they’re not in the film a whole lot and don’t devalue it.

How much you enjoy Gun Woman will probably be determined by how excited you get for a film titled “Gun Woman.” If the title — without even hearing its ridiculously fantastic premise — thrills you, this is a film you’ll want to seek out. If it makes you think of junky B-movies and you hate those, go watch something else. If this is your type of movie, it’s one you’re going to want to see. It’s gory, it’s fun, and it doesn’t have an inch of restraint.

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