Image credit: Kurando Mitsutake
Kurando Mitsutake exceeds the accomplishments of his previous 2009 film Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf with a much more sophisticated story of gory revenge, action, and perversion. Whereas Mitsutake’s samurai tale relied on an homage to Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti westerns”—which themselves were an homage to Japanese samurai epics, such as Yojimbo—in his 2014 film Gun Woman the references to respected influences like Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita are thoroughly sublimated into the world evoked in Mitsutake’s screenplay. More specifically, the world of Gun Woman is defined by immense wealth that is in the hands of a sociopath, “Hamazaki’s son,” who’s into sadism and necrophilia, and who also kills “the Mastermind’s” wife, “Keiko,” who are played respectively by Noriaki Kamata, Kairi Narita, and Midori Okada.
The driving force of the story, however, is “Gun Woman,” played effectively by Asami, whose numerous previous credits include “Miki” in The Machine Girl (2008). In Mitsutake’s latest endeavor she plays a former meth junkie and prostitute who’s purchased by the Mastermind for the explicit purpose of turning her into the ultimate assassin, who will be the “tool” take wreaks vengeance over Hamazaki’s son. While Asami’s beautifully athletic figure and pretty face make it hard to believe she’s a meth head named “Mayumi,” watching her engage her viewer in what will be a virtually non-verbal performance, excepting a critical single word at the story’s climax, makes you forget about the improbabilities (one of which is the method for smuggling a gun into an otherwise impenetrable secret location). Asami is a tour de force and I had a great time watching her performance! As for how to interpret Asami’s character—Is “Gun Woman” an icon of standpoint feminism or is she merely another exploited woman forced to meet male objectives?—is better left for another time. In the end, I genuinely enjoyed this film. I found the characters interesting and I cared about Mayumi’s, Gun Woman’s fate, whom I admired for both her strengths and vulnerabilities. I wanted her to survive her ordeal!