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Girls with Guns
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Black Angel
cast: Riona Hazuki, Reiko Takashima

director: Takashi Ishii

95 minutes (18) 1997
widescreen aspect ratio 16:9
Tokyo Bullet
DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 9/10
reviewed by Rob Marshall
Astonishing is not too big a word to describe this girls-with-guns flick by Japan's brightest auteur, Takashi Ishii (maker of Gonin, which I reviewed for January's issue of this webzine). Basically, it's about how six-year-old Ikko (Hazuki), is orphaned when her crooked father is killed by Yakuza rivals, and what happens when she returns to Tokyo from America 14 years later with revenge on her mind.
   Ikko recalls being rescued by Mayo, alias: Black Angel (Takashima), the statuesque hit-woman called upon by her dying father to get his little daughter to safety, so the grown-up Ikko uses her saviour's nom de guerre to get the attention of Yakuza bosses. However, the years since she saved Ikko have taken their toll on Mayo, and now she's a dope-fiend whore. But, when the bad-guys hire Mayo to find and dispose of her young namesake, the stage is set for armed confrontation between the women and, later, their respective employers and enemies. Got all that?
   Startlingly aggressive imagery and imaginative set-piece shootouts take place in a futuristic shadowy technopolis - clearly inspired by the hellish noir of Blade Runner, where sexy girls with guns happily splatter the blood of an army of dark suited henchmen across the brushed steel and faux marble décor. There's female defiance, moral depravity and twisted misunderstandings in abundance. So, if you liked The Long Kiss Goodnight and Nikita, this one is a must-see!
   DVD extras: original trailer, stills gallery, biographies and filmographies of the stars and director, previews of four other Tokyo Bullet releases - including Black Angel 2.