With a resurgence in grindhouse cinema thanks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, it’s no surprise that film makers around the world are continuing the renaissance of the genre.
What’s more of a surprise is that it’s taken this long to find a film which has been so heavily influenced by modern video gaming, and especially the Grand Theft Auto series. The latest from Chilean director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza successfully blends the two styles together to create an over the top experience which will suit the attention spans of even the most impatient gamers.
Mathias Oviedo plays Santiago, a DJ at a night club, who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. To save himself from execution he offers to bring in The Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola). Chief gangster Che Longona – which translates entertainingly as Don Che Sausage – gives Santiago 24 hours to bring back the head of his former lover and chief antagonist. Everyone in this world has a price on their head, cheerfully introduced by an onscreen caption with their price in pesos; and there’s no greater reward than the 300 million peso ransom Don Che Sausage puts out on the woman.
… a disposable but consistently enjoyable package of mild gore and cheap thrills.
BRING ME THE HEAD OF MACHINE GUN WOMAN follows an episodic style that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s picked up a joypad in the last twenty years. Onscreen captions in the GTA style frame each of the missions, which also call back to other staples of the video game – taking your car into the garage, getting a gun – and the film is populated with exactly the kind of brainless hoods and thugs that you’ll find in its gaming counterpart. Santiago is tracked from mission to mission in the third person POV style of GTA’s driving scenes, and the film is almost painfully authentic, even allowing Santiago a chance to play a GTA-spoof game before his first mission begins. The episodic structure also ensures that the simple plot whips along at a high intensity, and the seventy-five minute running time is never in any danger of outstaying its welcome.
What is packed into that brief running time is a disposable but consistently enjoyable package of mild gore and cheap thrills. Those cheap thrills are most directly embodied in the ridiculously fetishized Machine Gun Woman, whose enormous gun and unfeasibly skimpy leather outfit fall somewhere between a video game and an S & M shopping catalogue. Her occasional baby voice and obscenely teasing demeanour leave Santiago trembling, but if anything her insanely amped-up character goes missing for a little too long in the middle of the film. As fun as Santiago’s missions are, at least one more with the Machine Gun Woman would have pushed the fun factor even higher. Still, for fans of rough and dirty fun, BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN delivers just enough in a compact package to satisfy fans of grindhouse and GTA alike.