Gonin 2 (1996)
Takashi Ishii's GONIN really blew me away when I saw the dreadful Ocean Shores DVD many moons ago - I think my review at the time contained phrases like "masterpiece" and "hard to fault in any way". I've got the UK DVD (which is hopefully an improvement on the HK disc) waiting to be watched, and am curious to find if it holds up as well as I remembered it, or maybe its flaws were masked by the presentation. I have my suspicions because the other Takashi Ishii movies I've seen haven't been nearly as cool as I remember GONIN being. GONIN 2 being an example.
GONIN was about 5 guys who tried to steal some Yakuza money, GONIN 2 flips the genders but presents a similar scenario. 5 quite different women find themselves caught up in a jewellery robbery, and strange turns of circumstance see them running off with a case full of jewels and the Yakuza on their tails. It's a mixture of feminine bonding experience and nasty yakuza violence.
GONIN 2 shares a certain low-budget feel with Black Angel, though perhaps not quite as low. It starts off a little slowly and awkwardly, but becomes progressively darker and more perverse as time passes, to the point where it becomes almost inspirational. The 5 girls are all interesting characters (and cute, naturally), each with their own back story that made the act of desparation and possible escape a valid choice for them at that moment in time. The Yakuza on their tales are (luckily for them) mostly quite a thick bunch - but vicious and persistent too. An enigmatic figure with a long coat and a sword also gets entwined in their fate.
The movie has a certain amount of style-on-a-budget charm, and a darkness & perversion that is uniquely Japanese. It takes quite a while to really get anywhere, but develops enough momentum to engage the viewer eventually, and ultimately proves worth watching, if not unforgettable.