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Silver (1999) Silver (1999)
Takashi MIIKE
Kenji HAGA
Hisao MAKI
79 mins.

You can tell just by looking at the box that Silver is not going to be a good movie. It did, however, sound like a fun movie, especially with Takashi Miike directing. The plot is hilariously stupid - the heroine's family is killed by yakuza, so she draws upon her karate training to go undercover as a pro-wrestler, questing for revenge.

Based on a manga by Hisao Maki (also responsible for the Miike-adapted comic book Family), this was clearly intended to be the first in a series, since the actual killers never appear again. Instead, she goes after a female don, who doubles as a dominatrix. She actually invades her domicile dressed in her wrestling costume. There's also a guy who throws darts running around; she matches him with her superb coin flipping technique.

Sadly, the best that can be said about all of this is that it's good for a laugh, echoing the results of Miike's previous foray into pro-wrestling territory with the 1992 cheapie A Human Murder Weapon (Ningen Kyoki, also scripted by Maki). The blame can almost entirely be placed on the shoulders of lead actress Atsuko Sakuraba, one of the blandest women in motion picture history. I suppose girls with big tits who can fake wrestling and karate and want to star in movies like this are in short supply. She's so astonishingly boring you can't even be bothered to root against her; she sucks the life out of every scene she's in, like a black hole.

Still, acting is not the point of a movie like Silver; the point is sex and violence. The violence is reasonably entertaining, especially when her fist actually caves in a thug's face, but the sex is sort of a disaster. The dominatrix herself manages a number of nice, creepily perverse scenes, but the sexy scenes involve his lead seem to have been directed by someone else entirely. They're the complete opposite of Miike's normal active, sweaty, writhing and thrusting approach to sex. Instead, he goes for soft focus, slow motion, languid pans, and generally bores everyone to tears. He even manages to make a scene where she's tied to a chair and being whipped bone dull. Puzzlingly, though topless, this scene goes out of its way to hide her assets, apparently on some sort of Victorian "modesty must not give way to torture" motto.

Still, as I said, Silver is good for a few laughs. You'll just have to fast forward a good bit in between. Shed a single tear for the glorious piece of crap cinema this might have been with a lead who doesn't come across like she's selling cosmetics.

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