Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman (Cert 15)
Distributor: Clear Vision – Running time: 73 minutes approx.
A young club DJ Santiago Fernández (Matías Oviedo) works for an Argentinean gangster Che Longana (Jorge Alis), who has put a bounty on his ex-girlfriend and bounty hunter known only as The Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola). Santiago happens to overhear the discussion and to save his skin claims he can deliver Che his prey to him. Che gives Santiago twenty four hours holding his mother (Francisca Castillo) hostage until the mission is completed.
The last few years has seen a minor resurgence of the 70’s style exploitation and Grindhouse movies thanks to the likes of Quentin Tarentino and Robert Rodriguez and like any movement that gathers momentum everybody wants to throw their hat into the ring with their take on the genre. Step forward Chilean director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza who shares with us his entry, the clearly unambiguously titled Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman – and if you wanted any further proof of Espinoza’s dedication to the genre, the film is produced by a subtle named group called LatinXploitation. No pretensions here folks.
Espinoza is keen not just to appeal to the horn dogs who will be slavering over the titular sexy mamacita assassin but to the gamers in the audience, incorporating elements of game play into the film. As each character is introduced their bounty appears on the screen. Our star – known hereafter as MGW – has a 300 million peso prize attached to her. Conveniently Santiago is an avid gamer who spends his time blasting baddies and getting up to no good with games such as Grand Theft Auto, so each stage of his journey to bring MGW to Che is broken down as a mission which is either accomplished or failed as per the on screen graphics.
We first see MGW in a pre-title sequence sashaying through a small village square in a fur coat and little else under the hot Chilean sun, before entering a shop and blasting two would be assassins to hell in quick and bloody fashion. Talk about starting as you mean to go on. The sequence is rendered in a shaky picture style withy scratches and lines over it to replicate the authentic low budget veneer of the very films this is a loving paean to. Santiago is unfortunate enough to have been in the toilet when Che and his men are discussing MGW’s bounty and with a gun pointed at his head and his trousers round his ankles, he is forced to think fast. Thankfully he knows a friend of MGW’s and seeks out her advice in tracking her down, leading him to a garage where the code words are “I want my oil checked, very deeply”. Like I said, no pretension here.
It’s not long before the body count starts to pile up and the claret starts to flow in great quantities. This may be a low budget affair but having to rely on real, old fashioned blood creates a much more realistic look than the GCI heavy outings from the US, thus making for a more satisfying viewing experience. The violence is spread out quite evenly so the viewer isn’t bludgeoned by it as other films would be tempted to do so. While often graphic, some of the grislier scenes thankfully happen off screen but the viewer is given enough to be aware to squirm anyway.
Everything is as one would expect it to be with the dusty roadside shootouts, sleazy strip clubs, shady characters and every other possible genre convention you could imagine but Espinoza manages to keep the audience engaged in Santiago’s hapless mission for all of the film’s very brief 73 minute run time. Despite this handicap the story feels quite complete and the exposition we are given is enough to become invested in the characters – well, the one’s that aren’t blown to smithereens anyway!
The cast, to their credit, take the same tongue-in-cheek approach to the film as Espinoza does keeping themselves on the right side of being committed to their roles without being tempted to overact. Matías Oviedo has that Ben Stiller “manchild” lost look about him that makes him the perfect hero in the making, while constantly treading water. Jorge Alis appears to have a lot of fun as chief villain Che Longana remaining a safe distance from caricature territory despite sticking close to the familiar trademarks of his characters nefarious traits. Taking centre stage is Fernanda Urrejola who, I am pretty confident, has won a new legion of fans thanks to this role. She may be underdressed and living up to the exploitation fantasy but Urrejola does so with a sexy, confident swagger and an awareness that makes MGW a surprisingly credible character.
The greatest compliment I can pay Bring Me The Head Of The Machine Gun Woman is that it exceeds the expectations its title, retro poster and genre association would have encouraged, delivering a solid, trashy but overall good honest slice of sassy, bloody fun.
English, German & French Dubbed Languages
English, French, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish Subtitles
Behind The Scenes
Rating – ***
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