Sailor Suit and Machine Gun

Year: 2016
Koji Maeda
Rating: 5.0

Godard said something like you only need a girl and a gun to make a movie, but the Japanese do that one better - a girl in a school uniform and a machine gun is all you need to make a movie. They proved this with the original Sailor Suit and Machine Gun back in 1981 with idol star Hiroko Yakushimaru famous for an iconic image of her blasting away with a machine gun at a bunch of Yakuza hooligans to deadly effect. This spawned two TV series and now this film some many years later. It wasn't quite clear for a while whether this is a sequel or a remake but I think remake is closer to the mark.

This time around it stars another idol singer, Kanna Hashimoto, who is as cute as the dickens and who has acquired such nicknames as "beyond cute local idol" and "beyond angelic idol". And she is, being lucky if she hits the 4 foot mark. If they had a Japanese version of the Hobbit she would not need special effects to portray one of them. So seeing her with a machine gun seems a bit ridiculous but at the same time who can resist that. At the end of the film she sings the same theme song that Hiroko sang in the first film.

I went into this thinking that with the intervening 35 years that there would be a lot more graphic violence just to reflect the times we live in - but if anything it was more family friendly and as soft as a kitten - till - till around the 70 minute mark when it explodes into mayhem and bloodshed with a huge shootout leaving bodies littering the floor like leaves in an autumn wind. Where did that come from but to paraphrase Hiroko in the first film when she shoots up the joint "It felt so good". After cuddly sentiments for more than an hour, this was like a welcome stick of dynamite in a bouquet of flowers.

Izumi (Kanna) is just a normal high school girl who inherited a Yakuza clan through bloodline when her uncle was assassinated. But she disbanded the clan and opened up a café with three of her uncle's old followers now helping her out. They are not exactly threatening as they are closer to the Three Stooges than three Yakuza stooges. And that sets the tone of the film for much of the way - comical, sweet and goofy. But circumstances force Izumi back into the Yakuza world again and she has to don her sailor suit school uniform and load a machine gun and go to war.

But in the end the film lacks the guts to go where it needed to go and that is very much to its detriment and not at all what fansboys wanted. Still outside of Ma Barker and a few other films such as Brigitte Lin in Pink Force Commando, how often do we get to see a woman yield a machine gun. In this case, a 4 foot teenage one. Not as good as the original but it has its moments.