A marked improvement on Episode 1 (but unfortunately still no robot ninjas).
A Woman From Nowhere, Episode 1 of Asushi's Muroga's Gun Crazy series, left me a little disappointed with it's lack of action scenes, uninspired spaghetti western style plot, and poorly realised gun-play. I'm happy to report, however, that the director's follow up, Beyond The Law, is a much more satisfying experience: its vigilante/revenge narrative is more involved; the action is much slicker; and its beautiful star, Rei Kikukawa, seems more at ease handling her handguns than predecessor Ryoko Yonekura.
Kikukawa plays Yuki, an idealistic young lawyer whose faith in the law is rocked when she is unable to prevent a rapist from walking free. Her disillusionment of the judicial system is complete when her next case goes disastrously wrong, her corrupt boss is killed by her disappointed gangster clients, and she only narrowly escapes the same fate when a gun-toting stranger bursts into the office and shoots the men dead.
Realising that the power of the law cannot possibly match the power of a gun when it comes to dispensing justice, Yuki puts down her law-books and picks up a pair of pistols. Under the tutelage of her saviour Takida, a criminal determined to get even with the men responsible for his imprisonment, she learns the art of assassination, and proceeds to help her mentor send his enemies to their grave. But once Takida has finished settling his score, he begins to build a criminal empire of his own with little concern for the lives of others, and Yuki finds herself turning her gun on the man who taught her how to kill.
The plot might veer dangerously close to cliché at times, but Muroga's handling of his material is so good that it's easy to forgive the occasional sense of over-familiarity: the hi-octane, ballistic action is superbly choreographed, and star Kikukawa, clad in leather and PVC, is a delight to behold; the pacing is excellent, with never a dull moment; and the finalé delivers that feel-good factor, with our sexy protagonist arming herself to the teeth with weapons (courtesy of her obligatory goofy pal) and introducing her foe to a whole world of hurt. When the whoop-ass includes a mini-gun, you know you're having fun!
7.5 out of 10, rounded up to 8 for the lovely Kikukawa.
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