It seemed to take forever….. but “The Masked Girl”, part two of the Japanese Grindhouse style “double feature” action extravaganza with “Hard Revenge Milly” finally surfaced in, of all places, Hong Kong, all subtitled and english friendly. Yay!
Our synopsis for it reads: “In “The Masked Girl” an ordinary high school student named Ai Hoshino (Yuki Shimizu) is kidnapped on her way home from school. She later wakes up and finds herself held captive in the hideout of “Joker” and the evil Black Maria (Aiko Sato). Luckily she’s able to escape with the help of Aoyama (Tsuyoshi Kida), but not before being genetically altered by Joker—giving her super-human powers. While being pursued by agents of Joker, Ai confides in her friend Yumi (Shizuka Nakamura), but discovers Yumi has also been altered by Black Maria and brainwashed into swearing allegiance to Joker. Ai is forced to fight Yumi, but more powerful enemies will soon arrive. Eventually Ai gets a superhero outfit from Aoyoma and becomes “The Masked Girl” to confront Black Maria’s minions.”
Soooooo then….. can super powered Japanese schoolgirl vs monsters action stand up to the violent butt kicking standards we saw in “Milly”? Let’s all “Read On” and find out!!
Let’s see…. first off it should be said that this one, as with “Milly”, is only a short 45 minute or so in length, so we can’t really expect it to be an epic now can we? The story starts off quickly, with a young frightened girl being chased through darkened streets by an unknown menace. We never quite get to see exactly what it is, but eventually it catches her in a blind alley and we fade to black as she screams in sheer terror! Next we meet our heroine Ai (played by Yuki Shimizu) and her best friend Yumi (played by Shizuka Nakamura) (called Alice and Eunice in the subtitles, strangely enough, but Neko understands just enough Japanese to know that’s just plain wrong….). They discuss the rash of disappearances of healthy young girls… all of them excellent sports enthusiasts. Luckily Ai figures she’s completely safe from any danger of abduction, as she has to be the single most awkward and uncoordinated girl in school. Yumi, on the other hand, is a physical genius at sports and this worries her friend Ai, as she’s almost definitely the type of girl in the most danger of disappearing.
Wrong!!! Oh, so wrong…. As soon as the girls split up poor Ai gets chased and abducted by a couple of creepy thugs in a back sedan…. Next thing she knows, she awakens all chained up in a bathrobe in the evil lair of the Joker Organization and their leader, Black Maria (played by Aiko Sato), does the whole “tell my victim all about the details of my evil plan” thingee…. Boy are villains stupid when it comes to this…. Worse, it seems they did the super augmentation surgery before the Brain Washing surgery…. (Note to all Evil Villains: Always…. and I mean always, do the Brain Wash Surgery first before making your victim all super powered….. D’oh!!!)
Before they can get to that part of their nefarious plan, alarms start sounding and as they run about trying to figure out what the heck is going on, Ai’s gym coach Aoyama (played by Tsuyoshi Kida) shows up to rescue her…. Huh? Say what? Naturally before they can get safely away, the two of them get cornered by Maria and her henchmen. Aoyama grabs a hold of Ai and tells her to jump through the skylight located waaaaay up on the ceiling. Despite the impossibility of it, Ai finds she is able to leap 50ft into the air, explosively smash through the window, and land safely outside with her teacher, then beat up a half dozen thugs so they can escape. Zap… Biff…. Whammo!!
Maria lets them escape…. not to worry she’s got a plan to fix things. Oh yeah….. she’s just that sort of villain to have a backup plan all in place….. We get a little bit of Ai worrying about the whole mess she fallen into… Why is she so important to Maria’s schemes? What will she do now that she’s all super powered and stuff? How come her creepy gym teacher was following her around with a bag of her clothing?…. and most importantly…. How is she going to tell Yumi about all of this?
That stops being much of a problem, because before you know it Yumi gets captured by Maria, super powered too… and Brain Washed to become Maria’s loyal minion!! GASP!! The girls have a big ol’ no holds barred super schoogirl smackdown… Yumi trying to kill Ai for betraying the Jokers (although… as Ai quite correctly points out, over and over… she never did join the Organization in the first place..) and Ai trying hard not to hurt the friend she loves. Luckily she manages to knock some sense back into Yumi in time for the two of them to team up and fight on of Maria’s cyborg monsters….. Cyborg Monsters? Where the heck did they come from? No time for the plot to tell us…. instead it’s creepy Gym Teacher to the rescue again…. this time equipped with some fancy “Power Ranger-y” style battle armor. Since it only fits Ai…. she gets the chance to put it on and destroy the evil monster. Still…. before it dies, the monster promises us that we’ve not seen the end of Maria’ the Jokers, and more monsters who he promises will take a terrible revenge!! Cue the credits!!
But…… Wait!! There’s a wee bit more!! Following the credits… we find ourselves in Black Maria’s secret lair where creepy gym teacher Aoyama reveals that he has been Maria’s loyal minion all along…. that saving Ai… letting Ai save Yumi… and even giving her the special battle armor is only part of Maria’s great scheme!! OMG!!! Will we ever find out what in heck is really going on? Only if there turns out to be a sequel……
So….. how was this one overall? Hmmmm? I’d have to say it wasn’t as nifty a lil’ film as “Milly”. The plot is too sketchy, and the action sequences lack the feeling that anybody here is actually a trained fighter at all…. Effects are passable but not remarkable. About the only nice thing is the comedic elements thrown in here and there along the way. Most are very “anime” inspired…. lots of Sailor Moon type of stuff…. nice but not remarkable at all. Neko can only give “The Masked Girl” a simple 3 “Meows” out of 5 for not being terribly original, but at least being a good hour of fun. Will I watch a sequel? Probably… especially if it’s a inexpensive as this one was. I saw it on the HK All Region disc for the nice price of about 8$ US. Not too bad for a film like this.
Trailer? Well…. if you’ve seen the Trailer for “Hard Revenge Milly” you’ve already gotten to see it, but it’s worth linking in here again for the sake of completeness, so here goes!