Gun Crazy: A Woman from Nowhere Review

For quite some time the evil Mr. Tojo (Shingo Tsurumi) has ruled over the quiet little town of Tsuson, situated near a U.S. military base, where the police are out of commission and the army themselves are in league.

One day a woman named Saki (Ryoko Yonekura) rides into town - she is a bounty hunter after the large price on Tojo's head. Soon after finding a place to stay she enlists the help of Akira, a local mechanic who gets himself into more than he wished for. Together they set out to steal $200,000,000 from under Tojo's nose but things aren't quite so black and white...


A cross between any number of spaghetti westerns and modern day action films, Atsushi Muroga's "A Woman from Nowhere", from his Gun Crazy series is an uneven little movie that does very little to offer anything new. The main draw to this series is that each episode stars a well known Japanese model that is often kitted out in tight, leather pants or a skirt and runs around, bullets blazing. I wish I could say that "A Woman from Nowhere" has much more to offer but it happily plods along, giving several nods to various films, throwing in a little slow-motion and twin-gun action along the way.

The movie opens quite interestingly, airing a sense of mystery that does manage to stay that way until the final scene, before introducing us to some of the secondary characters, the worst of which (two military soldiers) hopelessly walk around acting really badly. I can't tell if they've been dubbed over by different actors or not because the delivery is quite poor and comes across as being artificial - anyone more familiar with Hong Kong movies will have seen this done a dozen times or more. When it comes to the Japanese cast, particularly the bad guys there are plenty of instances that require a good hamming up - and in true V-Cinema style it is done nicely. It is clear that Muroga is far more interested in directing an action film rather than concentrate on the dramatic range of his cast, which varies from being quite poor to over the top madness, and if one actor were to stand out then it would be Takeshi Yamato as the American/Japanese, Fujimoto - an actor with a strong presence who comfortably carries his scenes and brightens up the film a little.

Not unsurprisingly his main priority is to offer action and plenty of it - plenty of "seen it all before" stuff that is so choppily edited that it is almost impossible to enjoy. I won't deny that Ryoko Yonekura looks mighty fine in leather pants and on occasion looks as good as a female heroine but occasionally isn't really good enough, as if each take was done once - which wouldn't be surprising given the fact that Muroga would often say "don't worry, everything will turn out fine", like he had figured that it would all come together well in the editing room. But I can say one good thing for the one rare moment of originality here - the final scene is so hilariously entertaining that it wouldn't look out of place in a Takeshi Miike production. This is the sort of thing that makes straight to video Japanese cinema so worthwhile, there's a lot more freedom in making these films where bending rules and embracing the absurd is done so passionately and here, like Miike's Dead or Alive (which also happens to star Shingo Tsurumi) the film has moments that look as though they may well have been lifted from the pages of a manga novel.

I suppose I could finish up by saying the ending does remain a surprise. Most of the movie is ludicrously predictable and I thought by the end I'd seen it all, but Muroga does make the effort to offer a neat little twist that is kind of satisfying and makes me think that the guy may have a little bit of something going for him. With that said he also glosses over several other areas that I can't help but wonder why he bothered bringing them up in the first place, for example: the female baddie whose purpose it is to do nothing more than look sexy in black before having a brief little brawl with Saki, after which Saki asks her for her name, only for her to respond "I can't remember" - or some rubbish like that. Why mention it? Like we're meant to care or something?
By the end I suppose you have to wonder just what is important. Certain quibbles can be overlooked in favour of more positive elements and although "A Woman from Nowhere" isn't the most original action movie (it is certainly an average one) it does entertain enough for its 1 hour run time.


The DVD

ADV films have done a respectable enough job in presenting the first of Atsushi Muroga's Gun Crazy series.

Picture
Presented anamorphically in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio "A Woman from Nowhere" looks pretty decent. It is worth pointing out that V-Cinema productions are often cheap and never really match the look of cinematic films so what you see here is likely as good as you'll ever see for this feature. The contrast levels are a little off and black levels are acceptable. There is a slight soft look but generally detail is good, with a small amount of grain running throughout.

Sound
As with their anime titles ADV present the movie with two language tracks to choose from - the original Japanese track in 2.0 or a re-mixed 5.1 English dub. Naturally I chose the Japanese track which delivers the goods reasonably well. The 5.1 mix makes better use of the surrounds, notably during gunfire but the dub itself is a little lifeless and acted out as if it was another ADV animated series. Okay if you hate subtitles I guess.

Extras

Interview with Ryoko Yonekura
At 16-minutes this is a decent enough interview, although it doesn't get into any really serious territory. Most of the questions are very simple and Ryoko is all too happy to answer. She talks a little about working on the film, her attitudes toward action films and how her perceptions have changed since making her first action movie. She throws in a few comments about her director, clearly not quite having realised that he wasn't doing a very good job with this one.

ADV Previews
Trailers for Noir, Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe, You're Under Arrest, Najica: Blitz Tactics and Gun Smith Cats.


Overall

"A Woman from Nowhere" isn't a good way to start off the Gun Crazy series. Despite its mix of exploitation, western and action genres it is at times bland and has too few moments worth savouring. Atsushi Muroga went on to direct part two - "Beyond the Law" and I'm curious to see where he will take the series. A review for this title will be coming soon.

Film
5 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
2 out of 10
Overall

6

out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:05:29

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