Beautiful Killing Machine (XX: utsukushiki kinou)

Director: Takahito Hara
Year: 1996
Running Time: 91 minutes

Coiffed like a runway model, Cheryl (Rei Natsume – "Fudoh 2") is a deadly and proficient bodyguard for hire who prefers working in high heels and short skirts. She has a certain Jade Leung/Black Cat ambience about her. She is employed by a small boutique agency in which the boss is missing an arm and the assistant is stuck in a wheelchair. Cheryl fits right in though because she is missing her womb. She doesn’t care who the client is or what he has done to earn the enmity of people who want to do him harm. A job is a job and her job is to keep him safe for the proscribed time in the contract – she doesn’t have to like him or respect him – just keep him alive. Her first client in the film is a small Caucasian boy who she has to deliver to a helicopter pad. Three bad guys want to stop that from happening – with her kick boxing skills and a little gunfire she makes sure they don’t.

Next she takes on the task of protecting the odious Ko, a Japanese businessman from Hong Kong, who has been cheating his partners and is in Japan to pick up some hidden gems. Cheryl checks him into a hotel but after being rejected sexually by Cheryl, Ko calls an escort service to keep him a happy boy. She shows up but has more in mind than a massage as she and a coterie of killers try to get to him – but the cool implacable bodyguard takes them out one by one – until she meets Owl. Owl is the number one hired killer in Japan who takes an ear off his victims as a souvenir and he has a reputation of never giving up. Cheryl has him in her sights, but can’t pull the trigger – she knew him from years before and killing your first love isn’t easy.
There isn’t much new here – though the gender roles have been reversed from the typical bodyguard film  – until a freaky twist near the end that may seem astonishingly silly and contrived but makes for a fascinating turn of events and a splashy bloody ending of regrets and sorrow. Director Takahito Hara doesn’t have a lot of credits that I could find – perhaps this is a pseudonym – but he shows a very able hand and a still photographic sense of imagery (of an adult nature). His shots of Cheryl immersed in the water, of an ear sinking in a pool by an underwater swimmer and an overhead look at kickboxers surrounded by hanging red cloth are surprisingly artistic and give the video production a certain sheen. The action in this film is more plentiful than in any of the other films in the series – with some hand to hand fighting as opposed to simple gunplay – and a few decent if still vastly under-budgeted set pieces of killing. In these days when girls with guns has hit rock bottom in Hong Kong, we will take what we can get from anywhere.

My rating for this film: 6.0