Yay!! A day off at last!! So how about a new Review for all my Gentle Visitors? Well… I’ve got one for you, and given your Favorite Catgirl’s recent cranky anti-social mood of late, I suppose it’s downright appropriate to do one for the Chilean Action comedy exploitation mash-up “Tráiganme la Cabeza de la Mujer Metralleta” or as it’s known here in the US, “Bring Me the Head of the Machinegun Woman!”.
Our synopsis reads like this: “Santiago Fernandez is an aimless young slacker in Chile who is content wasting his life away spending hours on the couch at his Mom’s apartment playing Grand Theft Auto and fantasizing about an exciting life of crime and gun fights. By night he works a dead-end job as a DJ at a club owned by ruthless Argentinian gangster boss Che Longana. One evening, Santiago finds himself trapped in a bathroom stall as Longana holds a secret meeting to make known his offer of $300 million pesos for the head of Machine Gun Woman, his once ex-girlfriend now turned lethal hit-woman, who wants him dead. Discovered eavesdropping on the conversation, Santiago’s only choice to avoid being executed is to lie, claim he knows Machine Gun Woman, and offer to bring her in for the reward. Although the Gang-lord doesn’t believe his story for a moment, he is still given 24 hours to make good on his claim. It’s then that Santiago’s loser life turns into a real live action video game of its own chock filled with missions, guns, sexy women and brutal violence.”
Crazy exploitative action, 70’s Grindhouse style, with all the sexy “bad girl” action a bad movie junkie like me could want. Ooooohhhh yes!! Is our bad girl anti-heroine gonna go hog wild crazy with her personal Arsenal of Doom? Are ridiculous numbers of slimy scumbags gonna get their butts kicked? You betcha!! 😉 So… for a look at the details, all you have to do is “Read On” o’ Gentle Visitor and enjoy all the guilty pleasures of revenge cinema melodrama, South Americano style.
It’s been a brutally busy last month or so for this wee kitten. The kind of month that drives you crazy and has you wondering sometimes if you aren’t maybe one step short of running amok… going postal… and just plain kicking the bejeebits outta the next idiot stupid enough to mess with your life. Some people let that stress drive them to heart attacks or to the funny farm, but this wee lady prefers to work out her “anger management issues” with a few seriously violent “revenge melodrama” movies. Hey… certainly beats acting one out for real, eh? 😉
Luckily for me, just when I badly needed a serious fix of “female empowered cinema revenge rampage” to make life bearable, the UK Region 2 release for this one became available. Snap up a copy? Oh yes…. yes indeed. I’d been looking for a copy for a while now, but South American DVD’s are hard for me to locate sometimes. Usually I end up finding them in places like Australia or Taiwan, but this time out, the Movie Fairies were kind and an excellent British release with good English subtitles beat all those others to market. Ahhhhh…. Amazon UK, how I love your ease of use and ready Region 2 DVD availability… 😉
Chilean director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza is no stranger to yours truly… having done the odd lil’ Martial Arts meets masked wrestlers film “Kiltro” staring Marko Zaror waaaay back in 2006, so when word of this one popped up I was immediately interested. “Kiltro” took the simple idea of the Martial Art revenge flick and put it through the “cultural filter” to end up with a film that not only captured the feel and spirit of all those old Asian action stories but still managed to do so while making the movie a very Chilean one as well. I liked it… liked it a whole lot in fact. So the idea of seeing what could be done with the notion of the cartoonish world of the video game GTA crossed with a 70’s US style Grindhouse shoot em’ up and flavored with a big ol’ slice of Latin American culture seems a given road to exploitative movie goodness for sure. Hey… it worked for “Machete”….. 😉
In our story, a feckless slacker named Santiago Fernandez (played by Matias Oviedo) begins our story living a meaningless life of obsession with two things…. computer games and music… neither of which will ever lead him to a life beyond the parasitic comfort of his mother’s couch. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. He’s just lacking in any ambition or drive to succeed and just as happy to continue that way forever. Too bad he does his DJ work at a nightclub owned by the most vicious and psychotic gang boss in town, Che Longana (played by Jorge Alis).
As our story starts, Che Longana’s got himself a problem. A big sexy dangerous problem. Seems for reasons never really explained in the film, his ex-girlfriend the infamous hired assassin “La Mujer Metralleta”, the Machinegun Woman, wants him dead. Worse… she’s just the deadliest killer alive and more than capable of dumping a world of hurt on him, big time. What to do about that? Why put a huge price of 150,000,000 pesos for her head out to anybody willing to take on the job. Ummmm? Did I mention she’s the deadliest killer in all of South America?
Let’s just say it takes our girl all of 5 minutes screen time to waste the first group of bad guys out for her bounty in a bloody shootout in a convenience store that shows Che Longana he’s gonna have to up his price if he wants to keep breathing good clean air for too much longer. Unfortunately for Santiago, the gangster boss chooses to tell his henchmen all about that in a “secret” meeting in his club’s bathroom… while poor Santiago is trapped in a stall taking a dump… Awww crap… literally.
Of course, once they catch him listening in, our hero’s life isn’t worth a peso. In desperation he rolls the dice and swears that he can succeed where all those other killers failed…. he tells Longana that he can find and deal with the Machinegun Woman. It’s such a ludicrous notion that it actually works. Amused… Che Longana gives Santiago 24 hours to make good with his boast…. or else.
Here the film starts going a wee bit weird. Taking a cue from GTA, each of Santiago’s adventures are treated as level mission goals right out of the game…. some he succeeds at, some he fails, each bringing him closer and closer to the object of his quest, the deadly Machinegun Woman herself. It’s a neat lil’ framing device, probably perfect for an audience raised on GTA and similar games, but this wee lady found it a bit tedious after a while and a bit out of place with the whole 70’s Grindhouse look of the film. Maybe not being much of a Gamer myself I didn’t get some of the “in joke” elements necessary to make that all work, but that’s hard to say. My sweetie Carolyn… a definite non-gamer if there ever was one… was completely clueless about it all.
But at least by this point in the film we get the Machinegun Woman (played by Fernanda Urrejola) herself as a main character. She sexy, dark, and dangerous… wandering around in high heels, black leather bikini, and a waist length mink coat, festooned with an arsenal of guns and the ready impulse to use them. There’s an immediate vibe between her and the hopelessly inept Santiago who seems to have peeked, however briefly, into her soul once upon a time while she danced at the club to a song he picked just for her.
Will they get together by the end of our film? Of course they will. Mind you… Santiago can only make love to the dangerous killer while she’s safely tied up and you get the very real sense that she’s the sort used to biting the heads of her lovers at the penultimate climax of sexy playtime…. and that’s the fate of those she actually likes.
Ultimately our hero finds that Che Longana isn’t a man to be trusted, and with his mom’s life at stake he’s forced to choose between her or the deadly beauty he’s become entangled with. Let’s just say there’s a big gun battle on hand and leave it at that, shall we?
So all in all how did this one sit with you Favorite Catgirl? Well, I can say it’s a spunky lil’ movie that captures that vintage 70’s vibe pretty well for a Spanish language film, but it’s not without it’s problems. Biggest among those was the lack of any backstory to explain our anti-heroine’s desire to see her former lover dead. He’s a grade A butt head… but just what he did to motivate our girl to such extremes is never mentioned and that left me feeling somewhat let down. Good revenge stories need that backstory to make you accept the violence as righteous and justified no matter the level of horror that it might reach. Here that’s absent making it somewhat hard to sympathize with our anti-heroine on a basic gut instinct level.
Also… while our heroine is so incredibly striking and charismatic, she lacks any colorful opponent truly worthy of a final “Battle Royale” at the movie’s climax. C’mon guys… I mean it’s supposed to be a video game come to life… so where’s that final “Big Boss Battle” any good video game would have right at the ending? A missed opportunity in this lady’s book.
Still much of what is on hand is some pretty good stuff, with little elements of quirky humor thrown in for flavor and all in all I can admit it worked for me pretty well. I can give this one 3 easily earned “Meows” out of 5 for doing a fairly good job of entertaining me for an evening. Mind you… with the month I’ve had lately, a bit of guilty pleasure watching a strong sexy woman get her revenge on some nasty scumbags was exactly what I was looking for movie-wise, so I may be a bit biased. 😉
The Region 2 UK DVD is excellent with multiple audio options as well as 7 subtitle options, English included. Price was around 15$ US and it was certainly an easy film both to find and order. No matter where you are, if you’ve got the urge to catch it, it’ll be a breeze to find a copy. So… if you, like this lil’ Miss Cranky Pants, need your thirst for violent revenge sated, you could do a whole lot worse than this one. Try it… I’ve a feeling you’ll like it. 🙂
Trailer? Oh yes…. complete with subtitles and all the sexy Machine-gun action you could ever hope for! 😉