Ikko is the much-loved six-year-old daughter of a Yakuza boss whose home is attacked one night by a rival gang. He is killed, along with his wife, but Ikko is saved by a mysterious female assassin called Mayo, better known as the Black Angel. Ikko is packed off to the States but returns 14 years later to take revenge on her family’s killers.
In the tradition of Nikita, Riona Hazuki’s beautiful assassin certainly looks the part, striding around in black leather and proving herself as efficient with her fists and feet as with her an automatic in her hand. Ikko returns to Japan having adopted the Black Angel moniker herself – Mayo, her predecessor is now the drug-addled mistress of the very gangster who murdered Ikko’s father.
But despite the fact that all the elements are there – gun fights, martial arts, moody direction and mean looking gangsters – something doesn’t quite click here. Even though the basic plot is relatively simple, Ishii does his best to overcomplicate it with an excess of characters and by keeping the dialogue a little too sparse. And the film never really finds the right tone either – a bizarre scene where Hazuki and a companion simply sing and dance around their room seems to be in the wrong film, especially considering the harrowing one-take rape scene that occurs later on. But there’s no denying Ishii’s skills as a director and stylist – his use of blacks and shadows is sometimes stunning, and his wide-angle style of shooting makes for some incredibly dramatic action scenes. Followed by a sequel in 1999.
Japanese writer/director who gained attention in the 1970s as a comic book artist. Ishii’s first work in the film industry was as a scriptwriter, penning a variety of fantasy/sci-fi/horror flicks throughout the 80s, including the notorious gore flick Evil Dead Trap. Began directing in 1988 – his stylish and often shocking films are heavily influenced by adult manga strips, the most notable examples being the Black Angel films, bloody crime thrillers Gonin and Gonin 2 and rape revenge drama Freeze Me.