Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hard Revenge Milly (JAPAN. 2008/2009)

Japanese Action films baffle me to no end.

Take a look at The Princess Blade, Ryuhei Kitamura's work, and all of Takashi Miike's action output and you'll see the same sandwich served:

Dry as hell slow paced storytelling.


Annnnnnd more hellishly eye melting nothingness.

Hard Revenge Milly (The DVD from Well Spring USA includes the original 45 minute short and the 75 minute sequel) follows that recipe to a baloney tee. When people fight, it's some of the best edited, shot, and choreographed low budget action beats I've seen all year. It's insanely creative and EXTREMELY violent (Thanks Yoshihiro Noshimura handling the splatter effects).

Everything else makes me want to to smash the fast forward button repeatedly.

The post apocalyptic story (A.K.A: A bunch of abandoned buildings) follows a woman who's lost everything named Milly (Miki Mizuno) seeking revenge on the gang that killed her husband, stabbed her roughly a hundred times and lit her baby on fire. She seeks bloody revenge with her shotgun leg! It could have made a great future, but there's only enough material for a fifteen minute short that's stretched out to a painfully as Director struggles to fill what seems to be a prescribed running time. The highs are HIGH but everything else is snore worthy: Milly cleans her sword, sharpens her sword, and stares off at nothing. It's obvious that Director/Writer Takanori Tsujimoto has a great eye for composition (even when nothing is going on) but he should have let someone spice up his script.

The sequel (Subtitled BLOODY BATTLE) is a little more interesting, but still suffers from the long stretches of arid empty wasteland. The story this time around deals with a woman seeking Milly's help to take out some more murderers. The film includes a MUCH higher body count, more weapons (Gun-Chucks!) and longer fight scenes, but there's still no story to fill in the gaps. The pause between fights physically hurts.

After all my negative criticism, if you're an action film fan, you owe it to see them (at least once) The Director is good, but he either needs to work strictly as a second unit fight director or get someone to push him in a more overall engaging direction.

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