Black Angel (1997)

Directed by
Vague recommendation
Reviewed by Simon on 2012-05-22

I started watching this some months ago, but after half an hour was bored senseless and switched it off. I finally felt in the mood to give it a chance again the other day, and found it more palatable this time. The movie is a long way from the stylish surrealism that my memory of Takashi Ishii's Gonin contains, but it has a similar nihilistic quality and low level perversion.

The movie follows the fortunes of a young girl called Ikko, whose family is massacred in front of her when she is 6 years old. A mysterious female calling herself the Black Angel rescues her from the assassins, and ships her off to a relative in LA. 14 years later, Ikko returns to seek vengeance, calling herself the Black Angel. She hopes to meet up with the woman that saved her all those years ago, but finds that 14 years have changed a lot.

The movie has a made for TV kind of feel, but makes a good effort to create atmosphere given budgetary limitations. There's some interesting lighting and camerawork, probably quite Noir, though I've never really understood what that means so I could be way of the mark There are a lot of long takes in the movie, which may be Ishii's style, or may simply be that the budget didn't allow for too many takes to cut together. This is the main factor that gives the movie a slightly cheap feel.

The idea of a young girl taking on a yakuza gang with nothing but good looks and firepower is inherently appealing, I'm sure most of you will agree. Black Angel doesn't have quite the excitement and class of other female assassin type movies such as La Femme Nikita or Naked Killer, but it is generally darker and slightly twisted. The characters are all pretty messed up people, and treat each other quite unpleasantly. The production values for the movie aren't great, but there's a few moments of inspiration, or at least effort, that make the movie fairly interesting to watch.

Vague recommendation (but I'll probably put it up for sale)