I love a good movie, but “good” is a fickle word. Good is used to describe cinematic masterpieces like The Godfather and Metropolis, but fans also describe such B-list bombers as Evil Dead and the Toxic Avenger as good. There are a number of things that can turn an otherwise awful B movie into a good time. First and foremost is friends to share it with. A bad movie is almost always worse without someone to laugh with. That is one of the things that made MST3k so successful, you always had someone to watch the stinkers with. For RoboGeisha I had my fellow foul flick aficionado, Blue Shoes. He was in town for OMGcon, so we thought an intentionally bad Japanese movie was very appropriate. We debated between RoboGeisha and Big Man Japan, but when it came down to it I absolutely had to know what in the world a butt sword was.
The best of campy fun films often has the worst of plots and in RoboGeisha the plot took a back seat to the creation of newer and more absurd geisha weaponry. The opening scene involves a geisha with a circular saw spinning where her mouth should be for some reason and it only gets crazier from there. She’s trying to assassinate a guy running for Prime Minister and she’s being helped by two “goblins” of apparently ancient lore who are actually geisha women at the pinnacle of modification. They have cast off their kimonos in favor of fishnets, panties and a bra. But no ordinary bra. Their fun bags are adorned with goblin masks that match the masks on their faces and are capable of shooting hell’s milk. This evil mammary secretion melts faces at 10 meters. They mention something about having gentleman’s plumbing but thankfully no one demands proof. Saw face is interrupted in her work by our heroine, Yoshi. Who calls blade face her sister, then slices her in half. She then tells the future prime minister her harrowing tale of revenge and body modification. We never really return to this scene at the end or the climax like you would expect. In fact there is a complete disconnect between the intro and the end, I’m not at all certain where the intro lies in the timeline.
For one, her sister is there at the final boss fight, as are the goblins. But why dwell on plot holes when there are butt swords to discuss. What sort of secret armaments would a cyborg slut use to slay her foes anyway? How about a chest machine gun controlled by punching the other breast? If that’s not enough, we have misses that shoot from the geisha’s traditional hair style. A hair style which up until the fight scene was real hair of course. I can’t give them all away, but they get more impractical and infinitely more bizarre as the celluloid roles on.
Another important ingredient in the ultimate camp formula is the bizarre one-liners. This is essential in a dubbed Japanese film. We’ve come a long way in dubbing from the martial arts epics of the 60’s and yet I’m not sure if the writing is borderline incomprehensible, if the dubbing was poorly translated, or if something was lost culturally, but RoboGeisha hits us hard with dialogue so off the wall you’d think you were on the ISS.
Allow to offer a few tasty morsels. In the opening scene when the future prime minister’s second in command is fighting for his life he takes the time to answer his phone and says, “I’m afraid he’s busy right now, we’re being slaughtered.” Ah, yes. Very nice. How about when Yoshi is struggling to reach the boss fight on her recently repaired legs? She stars playing her koto and suddenly her legs morph Power Ranger style into a tank. “Incredible! I never thought I’d turn into a tank.” That’s most succulent. Now when the 100-year-old former engineer for Yoshi’s company returns to exact his revenge he slaps his knee and the CEO takes one to the chest. “I went ahead and put a gun in my knee.” Of course! But when grandma lays dying, what is her final instruction for faithful Yoshi? “You have to get rid of the bad people.” Best dying words ever. But the pay off, and I’ll save this one for later, is when Yoshi and her sister finally face the boss. It’s so presumptuous and unexpected, Blue Shoes couldn’t stop laughing.
The musical score is not something you expect to enjoy in a good B movie. Occasionally you’ll get a director obsessed with fantastic rock bands no one has ever heard of, but in RoboGeisha we get something a little different. It’s an all instrumental score, with the exception of a few songs with lyrics that make Lennon’s drug addled brain seem worthy of the Lawrence Welk Show. Speaking of the Beatles, the tunes seem to pay subtle tribute to that James Bond classic, “Live and Let Die” and during some fight scenes I swear I heard filler music from the A Team.
Ah, music and zingers are all well and good, but what what of this butt sword? Well, picture this if you will. Yoshi is nearing the end of her journey when she is confronted with the goblins. They are ready to unleash their secret weapon. That’s right. It’s butt sword time. But wait! Yoshi wasn’t about to become the best non-goblin assassin of the bunch without her own butt sword. It really is a sword that flies out of their panties. And it really is the most ineffectual weapon with a sharp end. But the fight scene is surprisingly well done. It is at once hilarious and well choreographed. And well worth the wait.
RoboGeisha follows a long line of incomprehensible violent action films and it holds its own nicely. It’s Godzilla and Kill Bill with a bit of Monty Python absurdity thrown in for good measure. Just make sure you watch it with your friends. They’ll never believe any description you try to offer.