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I’m not here to be some kind of dissenting opinion or anything like that. I won’t try and persuade anyone that Samurai Princess is actually a good movie in the conventional sense. It’s very much the type of movie that Troma has become so well known for. It’s over the top, it’s violent, it’s bizarre and it’s without any kind of logical wisdom. The cartoony gore is overly done and the bad CGI really hampers your viewing (will get to this in more detail a little later on) but I can’t sit back and say I wasn’t entertained. I really was. It’s a dumb movie, I’m not exactly clamoring for a sequel here or anything but I liked it for all of it’s craziness. Whether or not you will can probably be determined on your hype going in and just how much you enjoy low grade gory exploitation. I think the really great trailer for this released on the net, featuring a lot of the best moments found in the movie, could have had an effect on many. Going into it you might expect a lot of the over the top violence found in Tokyo Gore Police as well as maybe some of that film’s moody atmosphere and adventurous attitude. Samurai Princess though is a completely different sort of beast. It truthfully really isn’t as gory as you might come into it expecting.
The gore is there for sure. There’s a really great bit where our Princess from the title squishes the head of one of her enemies that really ranks as one of the best of it’s kind. Almost as memorable as that head explosion of the police officer in Tokyo Gore Police. There are several pretty decent gory executions along the way, but a lot of it is either CGI gore or something relatively tame like the use of severed body parts as set decoration. Essentially we have a few really spectacular bits of gory violence spread throughout ninety minutes. It’s definitely bloodier than your average horror movie, but it’s not quite what you might expect after seeing some of the previously mentioned movies. Then of course there’s the previously mentioned CGI gore present in the movie. Director Kengo Kaji (as well as Yoshihiro Nishimura, director of Tokyo Gore Police, who did the FX work here) definitely has a love for the practical gore FX, and although there was definitely some CGI use in Tokyo Gore Police, the digital stuff here takes it to new lengths for this genre. Like most, I’m a big fan of digital FX work when it’s mixed with practical effects. When you can’t tell that any computer work was actually done, that’s when you’ve really accomplished something. That’s not the case here in Samurai Princess. At all. There are some head explosions and various other bits of nastiness throughout but it comes across as being very digital and as a result very cheesy. The epic final showdown almost becomes comical by the pretty cheesy work done in the FX studio.
It’s a silly movie to be sure. In a serious movie you can’t have a guy start whaling on his electric guitar, complete with a Mech hand doing the strumming, and have it create a hurricane that transports our heroes to another place. Still, I can’t help but feel there are at least some pretty interesting ideas at work in this film , mostly thanks to Yoshihiro Nishimura and his innovative creature FX. What’s interesting about the movie isn’t just the gore, which is still it’s best asset even if its limited, I like the take on body modification that the movie has. It could be something as simple as this tight knit community of filmmakers all just like playing with new prosthetic, but there’s something to all of these movies about gonzo body modification. It’s a demented version of Shinya Tsukamoto’s mechanical fears or the many nightmares created by David Cronenberg. Granted, this is the exploitation take on those filmmakers, and I can hear the huffing and puffing of many readers out there growing angry that I could even use those awesome filmmakers in a review of Samurai Princess but I can’t totally discredit these ideas because the movie is cheesy and over the top. I still think the amazing creature work and the general sense of being carried over into another world is done well enough that it seems as if these filmmakers were actually trying.
With all of that said, sure, this is a b-movie without a doubt. If it wanted to be taken that serious, it could have focused more on the serious stuff than just making a lot of gore effects. This isn’t Blade Runner, as if it even needs stating. This is a very cheap gore flick, like something Andreas Schnaas would make only done with a little more pizazz. They do a good job of creating an alternate reality, but if you lift your head out of the haze the movie puts on you every now and then you’ll take note on just how much the movie takes place in the forest. There are also scenes that take place in what appears to be an empty parking garage as well as the actual scenes shot on sets. It’s all rather low rent to be sure and should be obvious to anyone just what’s going on with this movie. The digital video camerawork actually says more about that than anything else really could I suppose. So yeah, it definitely looks like a rather cheap movie. The acting, well, let’s just say it’s befitting of its cheapness. Although you can tell they’re all trying their best to treat the content as serious as they can, Samurai Princess isn’t the type of movie that is going to compliment any thespian.