Having watched his previous film, “Sapphire”, I had high hopes for “Steel Angie”, since the director showed a knack for the extreme action with female protagonist category. Let us see if my expectations were met.
The story is somewhat messy. It revolves around Angelica, codenamed Margarita, a Russian Interpol agent, who is tasked with infiltrating the Russian mafia to take back a secret serum called RC, which gives super powers and has been stolen from her government. However, she is captured and injected with the RC, but because her body does not have the necessary antibodies, she must be injected with another type of RC or she dies. The plot also involves a Yakuza organization named San Mon Kai, who has been hired by a military company called West Night, Angelica’s step father Inaba, a master swordsman, her childhood friend Alex who is investigating the case for the American, and the police, who also seem to have ties with Inaba. As a number of secrets come to the fore, the clash between the Yakuza, the West Night Company and Alex and Angelica, seems inevitable.
Let me start with the obvious: the story is quite chaotic, even more than usually in the category, with Yonishi trying to incorporate too many elements in the 101 minutes of the film. The second obvious fault is the use of music, with Yonishi selecting a rather epic score which appears, though, at a number of inappropriate moments, while in general, does not fit the overall aesthetics of the movie at all. This is however, where the faults of the film stop.
Once more, the visuals of the Yonishi’s film are excellent, with the film featuring a rather polished production, impressive cinematography and great SFX that point towards a production of a much bigger budget, additionally due to the use of the many different locations the movie was shot. Particularly the sequence in the factory, and in general the last part of the film, when the action takes over, are excellent, highlighting the direction, the fast editing and the action choreographies in equal proportions. Regarding the last aspect, Ken Kensei, who also plays Inaba, has done a great job in the sword action, with both one-on-ones and one-against-many scenes being rather exquisite.
The acting, as usually in these kind of films is not on a very high level, but the cast suits the action and the narrative in general, nicely. Angelina Varlakova in the titular role presents a great combination of “deadly and sexy” as the titular character, with the camera focusing much on her undeniable sensuality. Vlad Volkhin as Alex is functional, while Ken Kensei and Megumi Sekine play their parts with gusto.
“Steel Angie” and Toshinari Yonishi seem to have embarked on a path that I would title “polished messy exploitative action” and despite some faults, the result is definitely one that will satisfy fans that of all of the aforementioned terms.