Welcome to MangoBot, a biweekly column about Asian futurism by TokyoMango blogger Lisa Katayama. Fight scenes featuring beautiful Asian women with machine guns are sexy, scary, and fetishistic. If you're in San Francisco in June, you're in luck—you can get a double dose of ass-busting Asian women at the Another Hole in the Head horror movie fest, where two crazy, ruthless Oriental beauties battle evil in a cumulative three hours of gory revenge and fantastical sci-fi crime-fighting. The Gene Generation and The Machine Girl are two completely different kinds of movies—one is American sci-fi, one is a low-budget Japanese gory B-movie. But when stripped of their decor, there are a lot of common themes and subtexts.
The Gene Generation is a cultish movie about a dark, crime-ridden future. Think Blade Runner meets Ghost in the Shell. Singaporean movie director Pearry Reginald Teo draws a scenic dystopia, and Bai Ling stars as Michelle, a hot, soulless assassin who just wants to get out of the creepy hell she and her brother live in. But her brother, Jackie, keeps gambling away her hard-earned cash. One day, Jackie buys a weird mutant glove with tentacles ("A Chinese finger trap!") which turns out to be a unidirectional biological transcoder that reconfigures a person's DNA and could potentially end disease—or wipe out mankind. As usual, Michelle has to slaughter many people to get her brother out of trouble. Her performance and hotness are mesmerizing, even if you're just watching her walk around her blue-and-green-hued apartment in her black leather strappy shorts and holster. Michelle was probably born a badass; we don't know anything about her past, and she lives in a totally fictional future world.
The director of The Machine Girl, Noboru Iguchi, is best known for making provocative porn featuring lesbians and skatology. Ami is played by Minase Yachiyo, a swim suit model, and her partner-in-crime, Asami, is played by a well-known porn star with dozens of titles. This movie was made only for a US Release; porn stars in violent B movies don't always make it big back home, but busty Asian women fighting against ninjas and yakuza—well, there is apparently a good market for that kind of stuff here.
Ami, the teenager in The Machine Girl, starts off as an ordinary girl in present-day Japan. She plays basketball at school and, like Michelle, has dedicated her life to caring for her little brother. Even when the local yakuza boss's son throws him off a balcony to his deathbed, she keeps her cool, and tries to solicit apologies from those responsible. But when a family she visits goes psycho on her and turns her left arm into tempura, Ami transforms into a blood-and-guts-loving, vengeance-seeking mean killing machine.
Here's a quick point-to-point comparison of some of the similarities and contrasts between the two films.
Gene: Badass older sister kills to pay the bills while her roguish little brother gambles it away and gets in trouble.
Machine: Badass older sister plots to kill everyone who was involved in the bullying death of her little brother.
Gene: Murdered after owing too much gambling debt.
Machine: Committed suicide after being falsely accused of murder.
Gene: Handguns and sex appeal.
Machine: Pure vengeance and a machine gun arm made by her auto mechanic friends.
Gene: Sexy black leather everything.
Machine: Like a good Japanese schoolgirl, Ami is always in her uniform.
Gene: Yes, you get to see Bai Ling naked. And having sex.
Machine: Ironically, the pornstar-filled movie has no nudity. Just lots of spilled guts.
Cast and Crew:
Gene: Fight choreographer Jeff Imada (Fight Club, The Crow), producer Kim Winther (Mr. and Mrs. Smith)
Machine: Porn director Noboru Iguchi (Hot Girl on Toilet, Underage Girl on Toilet), actress Asami (Wild Thing x Asami, Let's Virtual Fuck With Asami)
I was fortunate enough to watch both these movies in the past week. What did I think? Honestly, Machine made me want to throw up in my mouth, but I enjoyed the humor and the sheer insaneness of the innocent-looking school girl. And as much as I am not ordinarily a sci-fi movie nut (remember, I'm the io9-er who has never seen Star Wars), I enjoyed Gene Generation. But probably less for the sci-fi and more for the hot Asian girl. What can I say? I prefer dating guys, but I think women are easier on the eyes.
The US premiere of <The Gene Generation is on June 5, followed by the West Coast premiere of The Machine Girl on June 6, both at the Another Hole in the Head film fest. Images by Another Hole in the Head