Written by: John White on January 23rd, 2006
Original Video Release Date: Japan, 1996
Director: Takahito Hara
Cast: Rei Natsume, Saiko Isshiki, Shunsuke Kariya, Naomasa Musaka
DVD released: July 12, 2005
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0
DVD Release: Asian Pulp Cinema
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.98
(This review contains spoilers)
Cheryl is a hit woman with a secret and with an odd team to back her up – a one-armed handler, a disabled surveillance guy and a female doctor who loves her. Cheryl is hired to bodyguard Ko who is ripping off Triad jewel thiefs and another shady hitman, the Owl, is hired to kill them. When Cheryl and the Owl face off they both realise they know her secret. Who will kill who and will true love triumph over adversity.
Cheryl was a man! She fell in love with the Owl whilst the two were kick boxers and changed herself to make their love real. Once this bombshell is dropped you kinda feel a little odd as the films’ prime asset has been Cheryl’s gorgeousness and the resulting love scene with the Owl is very very strange! This film is definitely one for fans of the weird and outré.
It all begins generically enough with Cheryl helping a young brat escape killers and kicking backside but then we start to have flashbacks of two Thai boxers fighting. Cheryl begins to have dreams that she menstruates despite her lack of a womb and we learn that her handler lost his arm and buried it under a tree. Cheryl’s surveillance man is a perv who watches her “exercises” with her doctor. Cue the appearance of Cheryl’s lost love, the Owl, who likes to collect ears from his victims. Weird enough for you?
Beautiful Killing Machine has a lot going for it. Rei Natsume is gorgeous, the script is well done and full of interesting characters, and the lighting and photography is very stylish. On the other hand, Natsume is far too ladylike to pull off the hard as nails assassin she is meant to be, the director can’t direct action at anything like an exciting pace and the director doesn’t really know if he wants this film to be a twisted love story, sexual exploitation or an action piece. Some moments in the film are beautiful but uncertain direction and poor action let down something that could have been special.
Beautiful Killing Machine is fun in parts.
The film was originally a V-cinema piece so the full frame ratio is wholly appropriate and the transfer is soft in places but better than others from Asian Pulp Cinema like Zero Woman 5: Dangerous Game. The disc comes with dual language options and the sound is good if not brilliant throughout.
The disc has few extras other than character bios and trailers.
This is one you should rent – an offbeat girls with guns flick.