Pistol Opera

Have you ever wanted to watch a stage play, an action movie,  and a sapphic romance-all with a progressive jazz and reggae sound track? Congratulations! Pistol Opera is the movie for you!

The movie starts with an Asian version of Andy Warhol (Nagase) taking out another guy who was trying peg someone with a hunting rifle.

Cut to our protagonist, Stray Cat (Esumi), practicing gun-fu behind a rice paper wall.

Apparently there's some sort of ranking and competition for best shootist in Japan and Stray Cat is ranked third so says her handler, who is dressed like a Jedi at Mardi Gras.

I think one of the best parts of this movie is it is so willfully abstract and obtuse that everything comes as across as silly. Weapons are delivered via courier and jobs are accepted via breast groping.

"Kill this dude" :: honk honk :: "I will kill that dude" :: honk honk::

Speaking of the weird sexual things going on, our Stray Cat is also a chronic masturbator, and in addition to having a weird relationship with her handler, she also has another strange sort of tense mentorship with a school girl. It reminds of Léon (The Professional in the US), except the young apprentice is much more blunt, to the discomfort of most audience members.

Stray Cat met her apprentice/bath mate during weird chase scene that felt like Scooby Doo if Jon Woo directed it. Which isn't to say it wasn't inspired, I mean, I certainly didn't know a dude in a wheelchair could move like that.

So apparently Stray Cat has to run around Japan killing other assassins . . so that she can remain number 3. Or be number 1. I'm not sure. Her next opponent is a very obviously Caucasian man (Jan Woudstra ), whose Japanese is actually quite good. It's really disquieting to hear this guy get most of the words right when he dresses a cattle driver and has a beard like Rob Zombie. Also, he doesn't feel pain-so he calls himself the "Painless Surgeon,"  and it's at that point I realize all the assassin's names in this movie would sound really cool if I was 14 and reading an online forum about Anime.

Turns out, Andy Warhol isn't actually much of a threat at all, as Stray Cat drops him like third period French with almost 30 minutes left. Her her opponent is the Mardi Gras Jedi, who is Japan's number one assassin, Thousand Eyes.

The climatic battle of the film takes place in at a Terror Expo, a Grand Guignol fun-house with actors sets and great lighting for Stray Cat to face off against Thousand Eyes. This is after Thousand Eyes has swiped Stray Cats apprentice, shouted at said apprentice in English, and then smacked her around a bit. Then going on to shout at Stray Cat in English and smack her around with a swagger stick, culminating an entire movie of weird antagonism mixed  with sexual tension....during a pistol vs. sub-machine gun battle.

You get the idea. This movie is solidly strange in an entertaining way.

Couple this with Miike's Hazard City (City of Lost Souls) or Levinson's Toys and you have a fine combination of gleefully strange movies.