“First martial arts movie where the heroine dresses like a refugee from a Sisters of Mercy concert. Er, kids, ask your parents.”
First of all, “Gothic Lolita” is a Japanese style term; Lolita fashion is based on clothing from the Victorian era, and the Gothic sub-genre is…well, suitable for a Victorian funeral, basically. Quite why heroine Yuki (Akiyama) decides to dress like this, after her mother is murdered by a group of five thugs, is never satisfactorily explained. Actually, it’s never even mentioned, putting it alongside the issue of why her father (Yanagi) is apparently a Christian priest, now confined to a wheelchair as a result of the attack. Or where Yuki is now a skilled fighter, armed with a bulletproof, lethal umbrella that can kill you in a variety of ways. Where does she get those wonderful toys, to borrow a phrase.
What matters here are her battles against the five killers, starting with a gambling den house-mother, through a lecherous and psychic teacher, up to the “big bad” (Aoyagi), the man who co-ordinated and led the attack on her parents. They’re a decidedly mixed bag. The lower tier make it clear that Akiyama was likely not cast for her fighting talents, but more to do with her being named “Best Butt in Japan” for 2007, though the film is pleasingly free of nudity. The best is probably her fight against Lady Elle (Momose), a marvellous character who comes off like a highly-caffeinated version of Elle Driver crossed with Hit Girl, complete with sparkly eyepatch and a gun that flips open into a pink mobile phone. I could have watched those two for the entire movie, bickering and brawling.
Yeah, if you hadn’t noticed, it’s more than a little like Kill Bill, though mercifully without anyone droning on about comics. The final battle isn’t quite up to the same level, and there’s a twist in the ending which is probably not necessary: it adds a level of fantasy to proceedings that goes nowhere. But despite the flaws, it remains a unique item, and if you appreciate the recent wave of Japanese hypersplatter, this is another entry you’ll enjoy in the genre, with everyone possessing appropriately-high blood pressure.
Dir: Go Ohara
Star: Rina Akiyama, Yurei Yanagi, Ruito Aoyagi, Misaki Momose