Machine Girl Ultimate Collector's Tin (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 20, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
When the brother she loves is taken from her all Ami has left is to go about the bloody business of revenge-and in Machine Girl the blood will flow in rivers. Now with brand new packaging and extras for this upgraded Ultimate Edition.
What They Say
Ami is a tough but otherwise average high school girl, trying to lead a normal life. Her world comes crashing down when her brother and his friend are killed by ruthless bullies. As Ami tracks down the ringleader, she is surprised to discover the bullies' association with a sinister ninja yakuza family.
When she goes after her revenge, she soon finds herself in over her head and minus her left arm. Barely surviving, Ami escapes and seeks out shelter from two kindly garage mechanics. They take pity on her, fitting her with a high-powered machine gun where her arm used to be. She then teams up with the chainsaw-wielding mother of her brother's slain friend and together they unleash an unholy, non-stop, over-the-top kill fest against the equally creative machinery (drill bra, flying guillotine) of their relentless ninja enemies.
The main feature of this set contains four tracks with both English and Japanese languages having a 5.1 and 2.0 option. For the purpose of this review the Japanese 5.1 track was used but both English tracks were also heavily sampled. The 5.1 mix is a rather nice one with the majority of the dialogue coming from the center speaker with the side and back used to add depth the track though on occasion the rear and side speakers can be used for a little, though not much directionality. All tracks were free of dropouts or distortions where examined and the dialogue was clear with sounds being separate and not running over and confusing it. All extras including the Machine Girl Lite short are Japanese 2.0 with subtitles only though the sound there is also well done.
The lowest part of this release is found in the video section. There is a bit of grain which is acceptable but there is a high level of banding, jaggies, and dot crawl which are distracting. Machine Girl Lite actually has worse video quality but according to one feature it was shot in one day and for as cheap as possible so it is acceptable with that knowledge factored in.
Tokyo Shock decides to show off their Ultimate Machine Girl release by packaging it in a Steelbook. The front cover features a crouching Ami showing off her machine gun arm against a dystopia city with what look like bullet holes imaged onto the case. The back features Ami standing with one hand on her hip and the machine gun arm in the air and a close up of the machine gun barrels behind her. The inside of the case features a trio of ninjas from the film on one side and a picture of Yoshie jumping that was used to promote Machine Girl Lite on the other side. The discs themselves use images from this release and the previous with Ami standing in the for ground with Tokyo and Mt. Fuji behind her on the main disc, Yoshie jumping in front of almost the same background on the second disc and Ami crouching from the cover of this release on the extras disc. One special little extra of this release is an attempt to take care of one issue which many Steelbook collectors know the annoyance of-trying to get the glue used to keep the insert sheet with the description of the film and UPC code off the case. Tokyo Shock solves this problem by having two layers of shrink wrap-one over the Steelbook itself which the insert is then glued to and then another layer over that. This effort is sure to be truly appreciated by those who have lost time trying to get the book looking nice after adhesive removal in the past.
The menu for each disc uses the images from the front of their respective discs for the background. The first disc has the selection choice center and right over the image while a track from the feature plays in the background. The options selected are highlighted by it turning yellow and it is quick to respond to changes in options and to implement the selection. The Machine Girl Lite menu has a close up of Yoshie’s face with a bright burst of light from a gun on the right and a track playing in the background with a line underscoring if the subtitles are on or off for the selection. The third disc uses a bullet hole effect to indicate which option has been selected and also has the same background track playing.
The main feature disc contains a behind the scenes feature and original trailer from its original release. Also included in the presentation is the short feature Machine Girl Lite that was available in the 1.5 Machine Girl release which chronicles the adventures of Ami’s friend Yoshie who was believed to have been killed in the original film fighting against many of those Ami had slain during the picture. A new weapon is crafted for her and the entire short is a tongue in cheek follow up to a series that already didn’t take itself seriously. The Ultimate set takes the next level with the addition of a brand new third disc of extras. The disc includes Making of Machine Girl-Premiere which is another behind the scenes documentary which is longer than the original one, Machine Girl in Yubari which has some of the cast and crew at a live event, a Special Effects Featurette which focuses on some of the effects from the film, Action Effects Vs Storyboards which compares storyboard work and some of the live action preparation run through, Interview with Cast and Crew which was a special from the Japanese DVD release, a Talk Show format with various members of the cast and crew talking at a couple events and to top it all off a TV ad for the film.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The world is a dark place where evil begets evil and even the strongest of convictions can crumble when the full tide of it crashes against moral walls. Ami and Yu Hyuga are teenaged high school orphans trying to survive on their own after the suicide of their parents. The weight of society is on them as their father was accused of murder which lead to the decision they made when crushed under the accusation. The two surviving children make their way leaning on each other and the knowledge their father never would have killed someone because of the deep commitment against the use of violence because of the hurt it causes instilled in them.
Perhaps due to the lack of a father, not wanting to admit his situation to his sister or simply because of his own feelings of pride or shame Yu has decided not to tell his sister that he and his friend Takeshi Sugihara are the victims of bullying at the hands of a high school gang. The leader of this gang, Sho Kimura, is the son of a Yakuza leader who also has a linage that dates back to an ancient ninja clan and has been raised to continue on both family traditions. Ami sees some bruises on Yu’s face and suspects he is being bullied which he denies. Later that day she sees Yu and Takeshi running and tries to follow them to see what is happening but is delayed on her task and only arrives after the two boys have been thrown off a parking garage to their death.
As Ami is thrown into the depths of despair on what to do and trying to cope with her loss she comes across a notebook in his room where Yu had written down the names of those bullying the boys. Ami decides to confront one of the families whose name was in the notebook to find that that family has both ties to the police that will protect the boy but also that the family itself will go to great lengths to do so as well. Ami barely escapes after fighting both parents but returns as a wraith that night after abandoning her convictions and setting out for blood. Ami starts by killing the boy that was part of the gang after getting the name of the leader and avenging herself on the parents that assaulted her earlier in the day. She attempts to go after Sho but finds that infiltrating the house of Yakuza with ninja training is beyond her skills. She manages to escape minus her left arm and is lead by Yu’s spirit to Takehashi’s house.
There she convinces Takehashi’s parents Suguru and Miki to listen to her story of the bullying that lead to both their losses despite the family having rejected her when she came to talk to them earlier. With Ami’s left arm missing and having the names of the bullies who killed their son the Sugihara’s decide to use both their martial arts skills to train her and their mechanical skills to build her weapons to replace her missing limbs. At the same time the Kimura family sets off to find Ami as a spiral of death and revenge start to draw in both the bullies and their families tighter into a perilous pit of hate. Will Ami and the Sugihara’s efforts be enough to overcome all those they seek their vengeance on…and those who now seek vengeance on them as well for their actions? Regardless of who wins what prize stands to be gained at the end of a river of blood?
Machine Girl is a festival of action, violence and blood. And by blood it isn’t just buckets full, it’s more like pools full. The film is a glorious over the top romp into a style of storytelling that is reminiscent of the genera movies that relied more on action and gore effects than really trying to build a strong story narrative to appeal on its own. And did I mention blood, violence and gore? Because they play very prominently with limbs being severed, implements of death flying around and enough blood sprays to make even Kurosawa think it is overkill. The addition of the tongue in cheek mini feature is reason to upgrade for those who only have the original version of the film and even those with the 1.5 version should note there is value to be had in the extra disc of specials and Steelbook that this version brings to the table.
Machine Girl is a glorious over the top return of a very specialized type of movie making style that uses gore, blood and effects to such an extent that the product is rarely horror at what is produced but almost a camp parody of such things. If over the top gore, blood and violence are not your cup of tea then this film is not for you. However if you are the kind of person who enjoys laughing at Evil Dead for its wit and style and not even trying to pretend to hold to realistic standards of physical laws when overkill can suffice then this film is the treat you have been searching for.
Japanese 5.1 Language, Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Samsung 50" Plasma HDTV, Denon AVR-790 Receiver with 5.1 Sony Surround Sound Speakers, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: C-
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: A+
Age Rating: 17 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Media Blasters
Running time: 96
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2