Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In short: Hard Revenge Milly (2008)

A woman named Milly (Miki Mizuno) roams a mildly post-apocalyptic Yokohama. She likes leather, swords and has a shotgun built into her right leg, as well as some other less obvious augmentations.

It seems as if Milly has spent some time harassing (alright, slaughtering) the men of a group of thugs known as the Jacobs Brothers.

After a little rest - weapon sharpening at the very empty bar of a once famous swordsmith called Jubei - Milly kills one of the actual Jacobs Brothers and uses him to lure the rest of her victims into an abandoned industrial building, where she wants to end her problem with the gang once and for all. Milly has good reasons for being as angry as she is - some unspecified time ago, the gang killed her husband, burned her baby and cut off her breasts, so her actions here seem like quite understandable.

From time to time, I think about giving up on the direct to video part of the Japanese film industry. After all, the last few years of its output have largely consisted of incredibly unenthusiastic genre films every bit as low on imagination or ambition as their Western counterparts. Fortunately, whenever I start to get too cynical, a film like Takanori Tsujimoto's short Hard Revenge Milly comes along like a mighty fountain of blood and restores my faith in Japan as the center of everything adorable and lovely in the world.

At first sight, Milly isn't too impressive. There's some of the typically crappy looking CGI you know from other films of its budget level on display, and the story takes place in the usual assortment of empty factory halls and other ruined industrial buildings every other Japanese direct to DVD film is filmed in too. But Tsujimoto is a much better director than many of his contemporaries, using his two or three locations for all they are worth, treating them as if they were the most exciting thing he had ever filmed.

Tsujimoto has a fine feeling for the use of natural light (instead of the more typical boring green and yellow camera filters), knows how to give his film pacing and rhythm through editing, in short, he works like a proper director making a proper movie and not like a drunken idiot who just doesn't care about the fact that someone will have to watch his output.

The fight sequences are more than decent too, showing a healthy love for over the top blood and gore effects and black humor combined with the tightness that makes for an effective action scene.

Miki Mizuno (who I found utterly dreadful in Joe Ma's attempt at making a Sasori film) does a solid job too, looking all grim and determined and throwing herself into the action sequences with verve.

Of course, the blood, the action, the tasteless jokes and Mizuno looking grim is all there is to the film, but its short running time of 43 minutes means it doesn't overstay its welcome and leaves me quite satisfied.


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