Reviewed by: James Benefield

The concept of a robotic geisha is unquestionably a stroke of genius. Clearly, there has always been something other worldly and automaton-like about this unique breed of Japanese woman – and this is aside from their sinister, passively servile relations with men. This idea, paired with the acclaimed director of similarly-themed comedy horror The Machine Girl, seems like a marriage made in gonzo Japanarama heaven.

It’s glorious for a while. The central, rather cute, set up sees two young, rival sisters – one geisha (Hitomi Hasebe), one geisha’s assistant (Aya Kiguchi) - competing for their tyrannical master’s attention (played with indifference by Saitô). He’s a young steel baron – a perfect bachelor, if you ignore his megalomaniacal tendencies. But love is illogical, and these two girls begin a game of one-upmanship in the surgery room. The metal in their bodies would certainly be a risk to airport security, and their mother would probably wish the sisters had just got that lip, tongue and entire face piercing after all.

Copy picture

Unfortunately, this is where Robo-geisha sputters out. The girls’ foray into swapping breasts for machine guns and fingers for knives strains for an eternally peaking crescendo which sees plot and humour sacrificed for wanton lunacy and tiresome silliness. Sadly, the rest feels laboured and rushed. Even a few gallons of hastily-added, distracting CGI blood can't rescue it. The soundtrack which, rather distractingly, rips off the James Bond theme tune, pummels more machine gun bullets of disappointment into its overripe carcass.

The film also loses focus quickly. There are long stretches where little happens and, eventually, Ibuchi's script completely forgets the initial love triangle premise. The sisters get farmed out to perform missions for the steel baron, as he attempts to use them – and an increasing army he is creating – to take over the world.

Yet, there is a consistently irreverent lightness of touch. This is shot through with a refreshing, joyful enthusiasm. And there is plenty of imagination and spectacle in its 97 minutes. Ultimately, it does feel like the filmmakers didn’t want to let go of their – admittedly rather good – initial idea. It’s indulged at the expense of structure, quality control or any serious attention to detail.

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2010
Share this with others on...
RoboGeisha packshot
Sibling rivals opt for surgery in the battle for their master's attention.
Amazon link

Director: Noboru Iguchi

Writer: Noboru Iguchi

Starring: Aya Kiguchi, Hitomi Hasebe, Takumi Saitô, Taro Shigaki, Asami and Cay Izumi

Year: 2009

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Japan


Search database: