Written by Takeshi Hamazaki, Michiyo Nomura, and Atsushi Muroga
Directed by Atsushi Muroga
Starring Rei Kikukawa, Toshiya Nagasawa, Kouji Shimizu, Eugene Nomura, Kaori Shimamura
- Interview with Rei Kikukawa
Released by: ADV
My Advice: Rent it if you dig gun fu.
Yuki (Kikukawa) is a cute young lawyer trying to make a name for herself in the incredibly patriarchal world of Japanese justice. Despite the unwelcome advances of her boss and some of her opponents, things seem to be going well. Then, after one shocking trial loss and a further fiasco regarding a crooked client and falsified evidence, she rapidly loses faith in the legal system. Enter Takita (Nagasawa), a remorseless hitman who rubs out Yuki’s crooked clients but spares her life. Fascinated by the power to dispense justice that this gun-toting hitman commands, Yuki sets out to become a pistol-packing vigilante herself.
[ad#longpost]Of course, once immersed in this world of criminal violence and vigilante justice, Yuki loses touch with her friends, discovers that Takita isn’t nearly the Robin Hood figure she imagined, and becomes more and more disenchanted with the life of a yakuza hitwoman. Then, as is wont to happen in such situations, some of her friends get caught in the crossfire as her mentor attempts to wipe her out before she turns over a new leaf and rats him out.
Beyond the Law is the second installment in the Gun Crazy series — Atsushi Muroga’s direct-to-video gun fu/femme fatale experiment. The aim is to take the conventions of the spaghetti Western and rework them in modern Japan with a different female gunslinger for each installment. It’s an ambitious project, and this installment certainly delivers. Kikukawa is best known as a swimsuit model, and part of Muroga’s scheme seems to be delivering leading women that aren’t really thought of as action stars. Despite a relatively thin filmography, Kikukawa delivers a reasonably competent performance. Nagasawa is pitch perfect as the hitman Takita, absolutely exuding cool in every shot.
You’re not going to see anything ground-breaking here. What you will see is a solid action flick, neatly translating traditional over-the-top Western themes into contemporary Japan with a stylish femme fatale blowing shit up. There’s also not a lot of bonus material here: some trailers for other ADV flicks and an interview with Kikukawa, who is very enthusiastic about her chance to be something besides a delivery system for beachwear sales. She’s obviously a fan of the action genre, and her enthusiasm is infections.
If you can’t tolerate brain-dead action flicks, this one won’t win you over. On the other hand, if you can make a bowl of popcorn, dim the lights, and put your brain in neutral, this makes a highly entertaining rental.