Samurai Chicks
(Dokuritsu shojo gurentai) (2004)
Directed by Mari Asato

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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While studying dance at the Orion Academy, Yuki (Megumi Shoji) is chosen for a special program. Together with three other girls from the school, she is trained to be a spy so that she can work to free the 'Kingdom,' an unnamed island south of Japan, from outside rule. Once Yuki and the others have become skilled martial artists, they are sent to Tokyo to work for their cause, the details of their mission being communicated to them through secret signs revealed in a music video.

Mari Asato's Samurai Chicks is a reasonably entertaining if utterly mediocre movie. There really is not that much I can say about it.

a f

The story is, frankly, pretty forgettable. The director does try to engage the viewer by revealing details about Yuki's past, such as how her mother died when a bolt fell from an airplane passing overhead, struck the woman, and killed her, but such elements, other than explaining why Yuki wears a necklace to which a bolt is fixed, do nothing to increase the viewer's emotional involvement in the film. Even the deaths of a number of important characters are unmoving. There really was no point at which I found myself caught up in Yuki's tale.

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The action sequences are a little better, however. I will hardly claim that any of them are thrilling, but they are still fun to watch. Moreover, all of the protagonists are athletic and do a good job performing these sequences. A few are even enlivened with a little humor, such as one in which the heroines attack their enemies by tossing out a fake breast that promptly sprays gas from its nipple, another in which the women dress in ridiculous costumes, and a third in which an attacker rises from a body of water, having concealed himself there as a duck, using a stuffed duck that is stuck to the top of his head.

ff s

Visually, Samurai Chicks is as dull as it is in almost every other way. It was recorded on video and, although it is never ugly, it is still plain. Sadly, the sets, costumes, imagery, and so on that the director has included are just as pedestrian. Other than his lead actresses, who are all quite pretty and appealing to look at, there is nothing in the film that is likely to catch the viewer's eye.

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Lastly, I should say that none of the leads is especially memorable, but, as I already noted, they are all very attractive young women and so are appealing to watch. Megumi Shoji is especially adorable and does manage to lighten every scene in which she appears.

aaa k

Though I was hardly impressed with Samurai Chicks, it is never boring. It is an uninspired film, but it still can provide a brief diversion on a sleepy day.

Review by Keith Allen

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