Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hard Revenge, Milly

Some unspecified disaster or environmental trauma has left Japan a post-apocalyptic wasteland, ruled by gangs of thugs. Tokyo is a wind swept desert, and Yokohama has regressed to futuristic version of the lawless Wild West.

Two years ago Milly’s (Miki Mizuno) life was perfect. She had a husband and a baby, and she was happy. But everything turned to shit when they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and encountered the Jack Brothers, the worst and most notorious of the gangs of drug dealers and criminals, on a day where they just felt like killing someone.

That is the heart of the story of Takanori Tsujimoto’s “Hard Revenge, Milly”. The film fits into the larger trend of hyper-violent Japanese gore/vengeance movies, like “The Machine Girl” and “Tokyo Gore Police”, to name but two of many. There is nothing super original here. It is a standard revenge plot; they killed Milly’s husband, burned her baby, mutilated her, and left her for dead. Unbeknownst to the Jack Brothers, she survived, and now, clad in the revenge movie uniform, a black leather trench coat that hides a dark secret, she exacts her revenge by picking off their goons.

“Hard Revenge, Milly” contains a lot of elements that you find in other films of this genre, like the aforementioned black trench coat, and a shotgun leg. The filmmakers don’t skimp on the ridiculous elements either. There is a headless body that still shoots, innumerable fountains of blood, holes blasted right through a torso, unnecessary freeze frames, and silly wire work in the climactic fight.

If you’re already a fan of these movies, “Hard Revenge, Milly” will be right up your alley. But while it is pretty standard fare, there is enough to make it stand out from the rest of the pack. Tsujimoto sets up the action well, despite what appears to be minimal resources (it is obviously shot on video, the cast consists of six or seven people, but he uses the abandoned warehouse settings to great effect), and the ridiculousness of the gore is over the top enough to be a lot of fun. The absurd, almost ludicrous violence of the main story is paralleled by Milly’s memories of the slaughter of her family, violence that instead of being comical is over the top in its brutality and cruelty. Amidst the cookie cutter vengeance yarn, there are some quirky, interesting moments, like Milly hiding a knife in a teddy bear, and using the severed hand of one of her victims to write, “Welcome” on the front of a building.

If nothing else, “Hard Revenge, Milly” doesn’t waste any time. Tsujimoto begins with an idyllic sunlit shot of Milly, with a voiceover as she talks of happier times. This image is immediately juxtaposed with a frenetic dismembering that sets the tone for the rest of the film. Milly’s story is told piecemeal throughout, through flashbacks and fractured glimpses into her memories. The entire thing is 45 minutes long, so there is scarcely any time to let the momentum ebb.

“Hard Revenge, Milly” is short, to the point, exactly what you expect, and, if you’re looking for something to fill 45 minutes of your day, it is worth a watch.

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