Tuesday, July 5, 2011

So-so Gothic & Lolita

After watching both Psycho Gothic Lolita and Geisha Assassin, it seems clear that Go Ohara is better at coming up with catchy, trashy titles than he is at directing the movies he puts them on. I'd hoped he'd avoid repeating Geisha Assassin's mistakes, but no such luck. In fact, I think this one may even be a step back.

Like Geisha Assassin before it, this is a revenge movie; our heroine wants payback, and spends just about every minute of screen time pursuing it. It's basically Kill Bill wearing more black lace, but unlike that flick, the tone is all over the place. The movie clearly wants to be goofy (like, there are cartoony zoom noises when severed heads go flying), but none of the gags are actually funny, or even jaw-droppingly tasteless enough to get laughs of disbelief. On the other hand, it also fails at being dramatic; it hits classic beats like the idyllic flashback shattered by violence, and the heroine confronting the monster that chasing revenge has made her, but those scenes are so lackluster that they don't add anything to the film besides putting another mark on the genre checklist. I'm not even going to get into the completely random twist in the final act, beyond saying that the nod to it on the cover makes it look much more central than it is.

Also, the budget is clearly super, super low. Certainly not a hanging offense, but it sure doesn't help either; at least one of the sets is very conspicuously re-dressed, and the splatter effects are pretty unimaginative despite being "supervised" by the mighty Yoshihiro Nishimura. There's a little wire work, but not only is it not very good, it's an integral part of what is hands-down the worst scene in the entire movie, a hellish combo of so-so action, mediocre special effects, and terrible, interminable humor. That scene is pretty much the entire movie's sins in microcosm; it tries to make up for its visual shortcomings with campiness, but it's not actually funny, so it just ends up being doubly painful. I'd actually prefer it if they'd just stayed sincere instead of trying to win audience sympathy with cheap laughs... which is actually what Ohara did in Geisha Assassin.

In the end, Psycho Gothic Lolita is a run of the mill B-movie, uninspired on every level and middlingly executed. There are crumbs of fun here and there (like the gunfighter who constantly talks on her cel during a running gun battle, and the multiethnic team of super acrobat delinquents), but this film is in dire need of a better script, direction, acting, and action scenes. I kind of hate to dump on Ohara, because he is clearly trying to make the kind of dumb-fun movies I like seeing, but I have flat-out been bored by both of his. I gotta recommend everyone avoid this one.

And speaking of cheap shots, I can never resist poking Media Blasters for their omnipresent typos. At least this time it wasn't on one of the menu options.

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