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I Heart T-Points: RoboGeisha

There are many ways to study geisha.  Middle-aged American women have Memoirs of a Geisha and Oprah.  Tourists can dress like geisha in Kyoto for an in-their-shoes experience.  The rich and connected can attend legitimate geisha performances.  Academics turn to scholarship and classical literature on the topic.  Me? I learned everything I need to know about geisha from a film released in 2009 by director Iguchi Noboru (who also makes porn).  His film taught me the four tenets of geisha:

  1. Geisha is Japanese girl.
  2. Geisha is beautiful.
  3. Geisha is wild.
  4. Geisha is robot.

The film is a B-movie called RoboGeisha and it is indeed an educational one.  In addition to their devotion to traditional arts, such as the playing shamisen and pouring beverages for rich businessmen, I learned that geisha are master robo-martial artists as well. Their techniques include, but are not limited to: geisha missile, geisha hari-kari, geisha chainsaw, geisha transform, bust machine gun, acid breast milk and fried shrimp attack.  “GO TO HELL!” is their battle cry of choice.  Furthermore, Robot Castle is their mortal enemy.

Unfortunately, these are all things I learned would be in RoboGeisha without actually seeing the film.  In three minutes and change, the trailer (readily available on YouTube) gives a pretty thorough synopsis of everything viewers will experience watching the movie.  RoboGeisha, by nature of its awesome title alone, warranted a viewing and possibly even a reviewing.  However, I was worried that the film would not live up to its trailer, as it evoked a bit of déjà vu from my college days.

Young Me once discovered a compilation of “classic” moments from a film entitled Shark Attack 3: Megalodon that was making its way around the internet.  The video showcased the hilariously lame dialogue (which put “I have had it with these motherf—ing snakes on this motherf—ing plane!” to shame) and budget special effects (that seemed to have been limited to superimposing actors onto Shark Week footage).  The concurrent rise of Netflix gave me the opportunity to see the actual movie at essentially no cost, as my friends all believed Shark Attack 3: Megalodon would surpass those legendary three minutes of hilarity when viewed in full.  This could not have been further from the truth.  Essentially, we spent ninety minutes of our lives waiting for the scenes featured in the video (see Snakes on a Plane for further viewing of this same phenomenon).  The RoboGeisha trailer evoked similar feelings: a burning desire for more insanity and concern that there was nothing more to see.

First things first: RoboGeisha is a bad movie.  That is not a secret.  Surely the people who worked on the film are in on the joke; you need look no further than the trailer to figure out that even those involved think RoboGeisha is ridiculous.  Fortunately, B-movies are often entertaining for that very reason, however.  Lousy special effects, cheesy dialogue and absurd plots create box office flops that turn into cult classics.  Therefore, the purpose of this review is not to sing praises nor drag the film through the mud.  Instead, I intend to pass verdict on whether RoboGeisha is bad enough to be good.

RoboGeisha is both bad and good at being bad.  For example, the first half of the film is not bad enough to be enjoyable.  Despite the strong efforts of bust machine gun, geisha chainsaw and acid breast milk, the film (at first) suffers from a lack of campy dialogue and violence extreme enough to be humorous.  The gunplay is so lousy it becomes boring; when one hundred shots are fired from a geisha breast only six bullets actually connect (and the carnage is not very extravagant).  Furthermore, the geisha chainsaw does not even chop off a single head!  These scenes are nothing new for those that have seen the trailer.  In addition, the “evil” plan that is supposedly driving the plot is exposed, yet the characters take themselves so seriously that viewers cannot laugh with them or at them.  For a while, RoboGeisha acts like a B-movie with A-list aspirations (and starts to fall flat as a result).

RoboGeisha starts slow, but luckily the second act redeems the first.  In my opinion, the turning point in the film is a scene in which three characters simultaneously fake heart attacks in order to get the jump on one of the villains and it works! Around the same time, we learn that the evil steel company that makes the robotic geisha is not only housed in a giant steel castle, but a giant steel castle robot! The castle sprouts limbs and goes on a building punching spree, hitting them so hard that the people inside are not merely crushed; instead they are instantly liquefied into miniature tidal waves of blood! RoboGeisha turned out to have some surprises in store not featured in the trailer.  They were glorious and made the film worth viewing.

There are many things about RoboGeisha that could have been done worse in an effort to make the film better.  However, I will never forget the heart attack sneak attack or the sky scraper blood explosions.  Thank you, RoboGeisha.

Note: Although RoboGeisha has been picked up for distribution in the US, the version found in your local video store will most likely not be subtitled.

Thanks for watching!

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