Assault Girls [Asaruto gâruzu] (2009)

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Wow, so Zack Snyder got the idea for “Sucker Punch” from “Assault Girls.” Interesting. Watching 2009’s “Assault Girls,” it was tough not to compile that thought, considering this film and Snyder’s upcoming film all involve gorgeous women having adventures in their imagination to stave off suffering in their own reality, all the while they’re instilled with their own individual personas as applied to their personalities that reflect their powers and weapons during battle. The only difference is, “Assault Girls” chronicles this imagination through a virtual reality system called Avalon that allows the women (whom we never see in actual origin) to become warriors. With “Sucker Punch,” it’ll be based more around fantasies and delusions.

After a thermonuclear war gives birth to a new middle ages, three women are thrown in to a digital warzone to test their skills and engage in destruction and battle for entertainment sake, a program initiative that remains controversial even in the state of the world. A majority of “Assault Girls” is one giant over the top fantasy and one I adored every single solitary second of. Director Mamoru Oshii creates a visually brilliant pulp-like landscape among this fictional war that is over the top and surreal in small portions while offering up a world that many gamers and fantasy enthusiasts would revel in being apart of. Each level presents the women with a new task and a new limit, with level one offering the women god-like powers and ammo that can take down their serpentine foes who drill through the ground and threaten their safety at every turn.

Director Mamoru Oshii’s film is breathtaking at times resembling “Tron” in some moments where the women venture in and out of barren landscapes to take on their beastial foes, while the over the top limitless premise allows him a chance to provide some wonderful and insane action sequences, one of which involve the striking Rinko Kikuchi as the eccentric Lucifer dropping in to a giant crater and revealing her massive black wings. Moments are like moving paintings with fuzzy digital computer generated imagery, and “Assault Girls” is rarely ever without an exciting sequence. I loved Meisa Kuroki as the valiant Gray, a player out for her teammates seeking points as the gathering storm of war ships lingers in the clouds. Yoshikatsu Fijiki is also a notorious scene stealer as the only male player Jager, a mysterious drifter and long gunman who refuses to join a party and save on his lives, which ultimately comes to the interest of the girls who seek his help and his advantages.

“Assault Girls” is one part of a larger story, and a film that deserves another chapter to complete the ultimate objective of battling and confronting the wicked game master. I loved what Oshii served up for genre buffs and in spite of not being all too versed in his premise, I found myself entertained and enthralled. And most times that’s all I ask for. Director Mamoru Oshii’s unofficial sequel to his 2001 “Avalon,” is a masterful feast for the eyes and ears, and while delightfully nonsensical, will provide anime and Japanese cinema fans with genre fare to snack on with excellent performances, iconic characters, and a premise that has limitless possibilities in the realm of fantasy and science fiction.