Movie Review: Lion-Girl (2023) – Cleopatra Entertainment Blu-ray

December 16, 2023

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, director, producer, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Beginning the way you’d imagine a live-action flick created in part by Go Nagai (Devilman, Violence Jack to name but a few… ) would; namely with a shit-ton of nudity (more on that in a bit) and folks turning into demons!

After that bit of biz we learn that the world has been turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland due to meteor strikes with the resulting remains of said strikes turning compatible humans into space demons known as ANORAC (that’s Corona backwards, and more on that in a bit as well).

Meanwhile Japan, now known as Neo-Nippon, has fallen under the rule of the tyrannical Shogun Nobuhide Fujinaga (Tomoki Kimura) and his cadre of bondage-gear clad samurai lead by Kaisei Kishi (the ever-popular Derek Mears, who has been in a ton of stuff, so let’s go with 2009’s Friday the 13th update and the 2019 Swamp Thing TV series… and really goes all-fuckin’-out in this role to comic book super-villain perfection!).

Standing against the ANORAC is the wasteland’s greatest hero, Lion-Girl (Tori Griffith); a super-powered, half-ANOROC, yakuza ninja who dons skin-tight spandex and a helmet that looks like, you guessed it, a lion… albeit a metallic one with an electric-blue mane… which again is a very Go Nagai way of going about things, which in my not so humble opinion is a rather kick-ass way of doing business!

Before long our heroine, along with her Sensei, Ken (Damian Toofeek Raven) and a straight-up Spaghetti Western gunslinger wearing shades named Marion (Joey Iwanaga) is charged with an escort mission/bodyguarding gig involving a mysterious young woman named Mayumi (Shelby Lee Parks) and her father Herbert (Matt Standley)… and it seems plenty of evil-type mother fuckers are balls deep into getting their malevolent mitts on that lass right quick!

Will our heroine be able to deal with all of the kinky samurai, monsters, and the pneumonia she surely caught from being sans costume so frequently?

Coming from the aforementioned Go in conjunction with genius writer/director Kurando Mitsutake (2014’s Gun Woman), Lion-Girl is completely batshit, over-the-top, weird, and absolutely Grade-A fucking awesome!

Running just over two hours in length, the film contains so much insanity (admittedly like the brunt of Go Nagai’s oeuvre) that absolutely anything goes in a psychotronic parade of absolute bonkers material that contains: exploding heads, constant nudity (though while we get full frontal male nudity, and female breasts and butts… all female pubic areas are covered in some sort of flesh colored panties… there is no way to not sound like a complete pervert in this situation… ), melodrama, transformations (both from human to demon, but a few of the Magical Girl variety ala Go’s 1973 costume changing android heroine Cutey Honey, as well), an intersex villain (the outrageous Devil Gemini (the incredibly game Katarina Severen), themselves a seeming call-back to Go’s Baron Ashura from his seminal giant robot manga Mazinger Z, also from 1973), a glowing tattoo, sword fights, practical monster make-ups, Robocop-esque social satire (involving both the Coronavirus and the Trump presidency), and plenty of bloodshed… pretty much exactly what you’d want from a production like this!

Up to the task is an incredible cast that are totally into whatever utterly demented awesomeness the script (and Go Nagai’s imagination) can conjure, and Griffith is charming and fearless in the eponymous role and gets moments of warmth and even humor among all the madness and monsters that truly endear her to the audience.

As for the effects, they are thankfully mostly practical, but some CG is used sparingly which ends up making it more effective… but you can expect a ton of fun things to tickle the ol’ eerie eyeballs and ping the sweet tooth of you gore-hounds and monster-kids out there!

Special mention must also be paid to the excellent Synthwave score utilized here (which also features a solid pseudo-New Wave ballad as well) that gives the fever-dream proceedings even more energy than they already possess!

As for special features on this Blu-ray from Cleopatra Entertainment we get a spandex enrobed booty’s worth and it all begins with an intro to the film from nonother than Go Nagai himself, followed by a commentary track courtesy of Kurando; who takes us through the film’s creation and production, as well as his creative inspirations, and pledge to keep this film faithful to Go’s aesthetic, in fascinating detail… and let me just say, this is very much appreciated as film’s such as this seldom have such tracks.

After that we get an interview with Go Nagai (conducted by Kurando Mitsutake), followed by a nearly hour-long “making of” doc that provides interviews with cast and crew, fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes access, and a look at even more art created for the film by Go Nagai (a real treat for fanatics of the legend’s work)!

Also included is a cast and crew Q&A sesh from the film’s Hollywood premier, the film’s trailer, and an image slideshow.

If you are a fan of the work of Go Nagai, and in particular the more gnarly (read: faithful) adaptations of his work (think the ’91 adaptation of Kekko Kamen rather than the bigger budget, sanitized versions of Devilman (2004) and Cutey Honey (also from 2004) Lion-Girl is an absolute must own; it’s full of colorful characters, gobs of violence and nudity, a ton of heart and a real understanding of what a Go Nagai-inspired flick should be!

Now can we get Kurando Mitsutake on a down and dirty Devilman or Violence Jack adaptation?!!


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