Lady Hunter: Prelude to Murder

3 out of 5

Directed by: Takashi Miike

A twist on the “you’ve pissed off the wrong person” revenge flick – i.e. an ex-Navy, ex-SAS, ex-whatever person is drawn into taking the fight to some baddies after a heist, or a murder, or etc. – Lady Hunter was Miike’s first directed flick, though released after Eyecatch Junction.  Interestingly, it’s a lot more confident than Eyecatch, while still showing some tendencies for experimentation, although the confidence might be because Lady Hunter is much more straight forward in tone than the other film; indeed, when there’s not much going on – such as an expository conversation which fills in some backstory – Miike’s framing is as standard and boring as it gets.  But surrounding that, as Seiko (Yoshie Kashiwabara) helps shelter, and eventually rescue, Riki from his father’s heavies, the movie delivers some pretty solid B-movie action – and sort of an amusing Home Alone riff in its opening half hour – with Kashiwabara convincing as the ex-soldier from the stereotypical setup mentioned above.

As the version of this I watched was on Youtube, and missing a lot of subtitles, it’s not exactly clear why Riki’s father – the ‘king of Moldova’ – is pursuing the kid, or why Seiko decides to tie up a nurse in a random bondage scene, or if there was something more relevant besides never pursued feelings between Seiko and her ex-army buddy, who’d been taking care of Riki in daycare at film’s start, or why the movie poster for this features Seiko in a bra, which never happens in the movie…  But following along with the B-movie cues was easy enough, and even from film one, we get a sort of precursor to the Miike non-sequitor ending.

Certainly only for fans of the director, but appreciably tolerable and competent for a first outing.