'Iron Girl – Ultimate Weapon': Filmart Review

Courtesy of Hong Kong International Film Festival
A typically bonkers but endearing SF romp 

Following up the surprise cult hit 'Iron Girl,' director Kenichi Fujiwara steps behind the camera for what could be the middle entry in a trilogy

With a title that’s a shameless riff on the more well-known, male Marvel superhero, 2012’s Iron Girl managed to become a cult hit, largely because it featured pan-Asian adult star Kirara Asuka, who is considerably more voluptuous than Robert Downey Jr. That largely conventional SF actioner was as goofily charming as it was low budget, so it’s no surprise there is a sequel. Ever so slightly more polished than its predecessor, Iron Girl – Ultimate Weapon picks up with a new story, cast and crew for more of the same. With a robust niche following for gonzo kick-ass grrl movies (though not as gonzo as Yoshihiro Nishimura’s gore films), Ultimate Weapon will find a welcome spot in many a genre festival line-up, on DVD and most definitely through download services.

When we met Chris, AKA Iron Girl (Asuka) in the first film, it was when she came to the rescue of a hapless naïf in an indeterminate post-apocalyptic future world. Chris, you see, has a retractable exoskeleton that comes fully loaded with all manner of weaponry (including a kinda, sorta light sabre), which she puts to use dispatching the roving gangs of the wasteland. She has no memory of who she is or how she got her gear.

After her Yojimbo stint in the naïf’s village, Ultimate Weapon picks up with Chris working as a bounty hunter in order buy a pricey piece of tech that will help her remember who she is. When she’s not beating thugs off young girls (again), she’s settled into a colony town that’s something of neutral zone, which for this backyard cheapie is probably industrial Tokyo. She befriends Miriya (Asuka Kishi) and may be on the verge of a romance with Kento (Hiroaki Iwanaga)—with whom she shares a military history (!). Iron Girl’s mission this time is to eliminate the Sparti United gang and save the peaceful colony. To do so she must survive a couple of boss fights with, first, Poison (Asami), one of Sparti’s leaders who has a fondness for red leather, and then quasi-cyborg Kiru (Ryunosuke Kawai), whose death throes revelation could mean an end to Iron Girl’s search. Make no mistake: there will be a third Iron Girl film.

Iron Girl – Ultimate Weapon is exactly the nonsense exploitation entertainment it is expected to be, and amazingly it’s far less overtly offensive than many of its ilk. There’s plenty of room for some needless jiggle and pointless sex, but the film doesn’t come from Japan’s pinku eiga—soft-core porn—industry. Director Kenichi Fujiwara (Rika: The Zombie Killer) and writer Yasutoshi Murakawa are genuinely trying to craft a diverting piece of genre trash entertainment, however derivative it may be. To their credit, they have the backbone to be honest about their star and the film’s more salacious elements (because Black Widow totally needs to have a skin tight outfit).Though action director Takanori Shibahara can do little to make Asuka a truly convincing action star (the poor girl is a far, far cry from Maggie Q) he and Fujiwara hide her shortcomings (if just those) well, and Asuka herself makes up for a dearth of muscle with a combination of straight ahead sexiness and sweetness as she muddles along trying to learn more about her own mysterious past and the series expands on its modest conspiracy. There are really no technical specs to speak of, but anyone interested in Iron Girl isn't here for Hollywood-level special effects.

Production company: Union TV & Motion Pictures, CREi Inc., Wako Co.

Cast: Kirara Asuka, Hiroaki Iwanaga, Asuka Kishi, Ryunosuke Kawamura, Asami, Yuri Morishita

Director: Kenichi Fujiwara

Screenwriter: Yasutoshi Murakawa

Producer: Katsunori Motonobu

Executive producer: Koji Kanazawa, Akio Umemura, Hisaaki Tai

Director of photography: Tetsuro Imai

Production designer: Ryo Chris Kaihara

Costume designer: Jun@1

Editor: Rui Ishi

Music: Ippei Yogo

World sales: CREi Inc.

 

No rating, 85 minutes 

 

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