Gun Crazy: Beyond the Law Review
Atsushi Muroga returns to helm the second in his Gun Crazy series, Beyond the Law starring former model, Rei Kikukawa. Like A Woman from Nowhere the emphasis in on bullets and babes.
The story follows a lawyer named Yuki (Rei Kikukawa) who has just lost another case due to a technicality that sees a criminal defendant get off free for raping a woman. Acknowledging the corrupted law system Yuki still fights on despite the odds that are stacked against her. Now her firm has taken on new clients - gangsters, and in this she learns that the company helped to deceive the courts by faking an alibi. Yuki confronts the mob, endangering her own life and just as her time on Earth is about to come to an end in bursts Takita (Toshiya Nagasawa) - a hit man who declares that the gun can do more justice than the law, quickly and efficiently. Yuki decides to quit her job and track down Takita in the hopes that he can train her to be a professional killer, so that she can take care of justice her own way. As she works more closely with Takita she learns about the code of the assassin and betrayal that would result in her death and the ones she loves.
I didn't think that Beyond the Law could possibly be as dull as the previous film but thanks to a sheer lack of originality it is just that. Taking inspiration once again from so many action films before it and even A Woman from Nowhere Atsushi Muroga hasn't really learned anything and I don't think he cares. Muroga would likely think that what makes these films original is the fact they have female stars who used to be models, not much else really seems to matter as long as they fit tight clothes and shoot off endless rounds of bullets.
I never thought I'd say that an action film was too violent but I have to say it here. Beyond the Law has far too much unnecessary violence in my opinion, used as a way to continually add twists to the story. People die who shouldn't really have to and I understand the point that is being made, that in the end Yuki has to deal with the bad things that are happening around her but to me the violence is done purely for the sake of it and when twists comes this cheaply (and I'm not talking money wise) I find it quite off putting. Violence can be entertaining but I fail to see how anyone can be bothered with little girls getting shot in the back and best friends being blown up in their shop, just when everything seems fine. Muroga shows a lot of disregard for his material but still goes on preaching about the same thing that makes this movie what it is.
I'm referring to the forceful message that is rammed over our heads that basically says in a pro violence manner that guns are the law. It wouldn't be the first time that this has been done and that is the problem. Again there is little here of worth and for 60 minutes it feels like Muroga is just trying to fit in as many explosions and different types of guns as possible to please fans of the genre. Mindless violence is fine as long as it is interesting and I wish something new could have been done here as in all honesty it's a boring film, but alas there must surely be a market still for these exploitative and hampered movies, with Beyond the Law feeling a little sleazier than A Woman from Nowhere.
This time around the acting is even worse than before. Rei Kikukawa does not make for a good lead character. Yes she is pretty, yes she fits the tight pants but in the acting stakes she struggles. If prompted better I would say she could achieve more but she has a hard time at trying to convince us of her character's inner feelings that are so weighed down by the pain she feels. But the main trouble with characterisation, not only that of Yuki but the rest of the cast is that the film runs for just 62 minutes, credits and all so there isn't much room for development. This film features every cliché in the book and puts them all together in one tiny package, making the film extremely hurried so that it carries no emotional impact.
When all is said and done the film does exactly what you might expect. In a different frame of mind they might be more fun but for me the disappointment comes from the fact that everything you see has been done better before and V-Cinema can be brilliant as we've seen from so many capable directors but Atsushi Muroga just isn't amongst them. The end song by Iyiyim is good though...
ADV present Beyond the Law on a good disc with attractive artwork.
Presented in anamorphic 1.85:1, the film looks as good as it possibly can. The Gun Crazy films are low budget productions so it is too much to expect them to look pristine. What we have is an image that's a little soft and grainy but transferred over to DVD reasonably well. Colours are good if not too dark and black levels are particularly suitable.
ADV provide the original 2.0 Japanese mix as well as a newly mixed English dub in 5.1. The 5.1 track does come across better but it doesn't do the film any favours with the dub. I'd suggest sticking with the original track. It is perfectly clear and delivers enough of a kick to satisfy.
There are optional English subtitles which are easy to read but one occasion crops up that has them flash on and off too quickly, this is when a newspaper headline is translated.
Interview with Rei Kikukawa
Running for 12-minutes and recorded on March 25th 2002, Rei talks to us about her experiences as an actress, with her first major role being in Beyond the Law. She enjoyed her time making the movie and expresses her interest in action films, but I’m not entirely convinced by her character summation as I just don't think it goes as deep as she or Muroga would have you believe. I also have a hard time in accepting her claims of just how passionate Muroga was toward this film. Still, she's a nice girl with a positive attitude who goes on to say that she'd love to do more films but with swordplay, so best of luck to her.
Trailers for New Cutey Honey, Conduct Zero Last Exile, Mahoromatic: Automatic Maiden and Hellsing
Beyond the Law is a bitter disappointment after the last film; it ends up being worse in many ways. There's still more to come from this series and I have doubts that it'll improve, but there's always hope so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Last updated: 21/06/2018 20:25:42