After serving an eviction notice to a strange old woman, with a grisly rumor in her past, for her realtor mogul father, Rose becomes drugged and bound against her will by the old woman who injects Rose with something. When Rose awakes, she finds her self caught in a repetitive cycle of murder, betrayal, and mystery brought upon by a spell conjured upon Rose by the old enchantress woman. The key to breaking the spell is the enchantress’s family home and it’s up to Rose to whether destroying the home or not will save her father who also falls victim to the old woman’s bewitching power.
“Rows” is the fantasy-horror brainchild of writer-director David Warfield and stars “Feast” actress Hannah Schick along side “House with 100 Eyes’s” Lauren Lakis, Kenneth Hughes, Joe Basile, and Nancy Murray as the enchantress or the witch, which I like to title the character. The overall small casts’ performance achieves the toned-down, nearly expressionless portrayal of characters stuck in the confines of a hex; the “something-doesn’t-feel-right” notion is hyped up without the idea constantly up in your face and is more downplayed to let the viewer interpret Rose’s beyond twisted “Alice in Wonderland” experience. Instead of a world full of giant smoking caterpillars and tea drinking mad hatters, Warfield writes about the relatively unknown horrors of corn fields, an endless maze with rows and rows of high stalks that traps Rose and Greta.
But the corn rows go to the back burner when the nature of the house comes to the forefront. The house’s claim to be the smoking gun to all of Rose’s obstacles is undervalued by the poor written construction of the southern belle style home in the script. The house doesn’t loom, isn’t very menacing, and just can’t seem to ever get on it’s feet to become a character wroth being frightened over. Warfield should have stuck with the corn rows which creates a surface murkiness, goes beyond our heroine’s ability to see or hear, shreds any hope for escape, and looks more ominous during the night; the house was always kept in the daytime. However, the old witch’s power stems from the house and for whatever reason, aside from the extended family history under their thumb, there is this unsatisfied, unknown conclusion for the viewer and the finale is up for personal interpretation.
In making the ending open, Warfield’s “Rows” eases onto the border of experimental. Act one and two weren’t exactly straight forward either, but the understanding was clear and present enough. Once the transition, or the epiphany if you will, into the third act begins, a struggle to grasp Rose’s direction and, in the end, destination becomes more difficult. I can only go on my own interpretation of Rose’s journey and, much like that of the fantasy-ridden “Labyrinth” starring David Bowie, I felt like actress Hannah Schick was the Jennifer Connelly character in the sense that Rose has to grow up, leave the comforts of home, and be responsible and this whole event with the enchantress and the spell is an internal mental battle that ultimately is decided by a choice. In Hannah’s case, her inner, warped conflict is to fight her father’s will or embrace it.
Indie Rights Films and MVDVisual distributes the StorySolver Film Lab production to DVD in a stunning 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Details look fantastic from the farm landscapes to the skin tones with no sign of touch up enhancements such as cropping, sharpening, or smoothing. The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track clearly balanced and diversifies all sub-tracks, especially the ambient sounds of the rural atmosphere to set an looming setting. There are no subtitle or settings options, nor do extras exist. Only “play” or “chapters” line the menu title. “Rows” has a sizable underlining gloom about it, setting a rightfully impassive mood through the spell world Rose is thrusted into combating.
A determined doctor pledges revenge after his wife fell victim to a crazy, sadistic, cannibalistic, sex-fiend killer. Known by only the Mastermind, his quest lures him to buy a junkie from an underground trafficking organization and trains her, without given her a choice, to be an lethal assassin. The Mastermind teaches her hand-to-hand combat, how to handle a handgun, and even how to survive surgical procedures in order to have the mechanical parts of a handgun implanted into various portions of her body and then abstract the bulky pieces when the time is right. The dastardly plan for assassination comes to fruition when the Mastermind’s target makes his rounds at a necrophilia and cannibalistic business called “The Room” where Gun Woman feigns her death to infiltrate and carry out the hit.
“Gun Woman” is an insane Japanese action-thriller concept from the mind of a relatively new director Kurando Mitsutake. From this reviewer’s point of view, Mitsutake’s film is much more tame compared to the other numerous Japanese’s extreme and unthinkable plot lines. Basically, the Japan film industry produces three solid genres that hover around outside the realm of their mega-popular Japanese Adult Video and Pinku markets: Dramatic noris involving a various range of characters from gangsters to samurais, the Americanized popular ghost films such as Ringu or Ju-on, and the outrageous, ultra-violent films, spreading amongst various sub-genres from action to horror. “Gun Woman” suits the latter category with it’s necrophilia, super-soaking blood, rape and torture, cannibalism, and the odd jobs of the reproductive body parts. Remember when I said that “Gun Woman” is the fairly tame?
The Maxam produced film stars the ever gorgeous actress Asami of “Machine Girl” fame. You may remember my last Asami film review for the Pink Eiga released “Prison Girls” starring the once former JAV actress turned phenomenal B-movie heroine. Asami’s uncanny ability to conform to any role heightens the film’s viewing and enjoyable factors and “Gun Woman” is the epitome of B-movie schlock, almost as if her role as Gun Woman was made just for Asami. Alongside Asami are Kairi Narita as the Mastermind and Noriaki Kamata as the heinous sex-fiend only known as Hamazaki’s son. Narita towers over Asami with a strong muscular face, proving to be a powerhouse character even though the Mastermind character is partially crippled. Kamata possesses such a freaky super thin, yet muscular build with defined facial features that his role as a necrophiliac, a cannibal, and a rapist-murderer wouldn’t be so far from the truth if bumping into Kamata randomly on the street.
While Asami’s character might be the heroine of the film, “Gun Woman” surely feels like an anti-woman film. Many of the female roles, no matter how minor, are subjected to some sort of abuse. Hamazaki’s son rapes and strangles various American women while also raping and killing the Mastermind’s wife. The Mastermind himself kidnaps an innocent woman and uses her as a tool to create a lethal weapon in Asami. Even Hamazaki’s female body guard doesn’t get a chance to have one line in the entire film, does really nothing at all, and ultimately meets her end and I can’t help but wonder why even have this character at all if the character serves so little a purpose? Like I aforementioned, Asami might be this kick-ass, gun-toting, deadly femme-fatal, but her mission for revenge isn’t even her mission for revenge; its the Mastermind’s and he’s using her, a junkie bought off a secret organization, with given a single choice: to either kill for him or die.
“Gun Woman” markets itself as a “no-holds-barred revenge flick” and has all the makings of a cult film. Blood gushes out of gaping wounds, intense fight and gun scenes, and naked women galore grace the film’s entire presence. However, “Gun Woman’s” enticing premise isn’t without major flaws including obvious plot holes, inaccurate medical procedures, and some unbalanced acting from not the Japanese, but from the English speaking Anglo-Saxons driving the car during the outer-story. Hey, this is the movie industry where anything can happen as long as someone can think of whatever it is up and as long as someone can construct it as well. The whole premise behind the film is bogus in reality and Asami’s character might as well be a part of the IMF because her mission is impossible. To provide an example, nobody could withstand having three parts of a firearm surgically implanted into their body and then live 22 minutes later after removing the said parts by reopening the wounds to assassinate everybody in “The Room.” Other factors are involved when contemplating blood loss and time such as what if Asami is additionally injured resulting in blood loss? What if her pulse rate increases during heart-pounding scenarios causing a faster blood flow?
Show business is all smoke screens, lengthy mirrors, and customized misdirection and Mitsutake’s “Gun Woman” certainly provides just that while pushing the boundaries of taboo subjects and being, what I consider, a chauvinistic perspective against women. If a viewer wishes to suspend disbelief for 87 minutes, witness a bloody-stellar end game, and see their fair share of naked and abused women, then “Gun Woman” would be right up their mentally deranged alley. The Scream Factor (Shout Factory) Blu-ray release is presented with little digital noise interference in a 1080p High-Definition widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ration with DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix with English subtitles available. I’m not sold on the Scream Factory Blu-ray cover of a closeup of Asami’s face and holding two smoking sidearms in a criss-cross way (think Kate Beckinsail on the “Underworld Evolution” DVD). This doesn’t actually represent the movie as she never really garnishes two handguns. Other releases are more accurate with a naked and bloodied Asami, aiming one handgun. Still, the release is solid and I wouldn’t discourage anybody, especially Asami fans, of a good time.