Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman (a.k.a. Tráiganme la cabeza de la mujer metralleta), 2012.
Written and Directed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza.
Starring Fernanda Urrejola, Matías Oviedo, Jorge Alis, Sofia Garcia, and Alex Rivera.
Ruthless Argentine kingpin Che Longana uses everything in his power to stop the woman who wants to kill him – a sexy and bloodthirsty mercenary known as “the machine gun woman”. The staggering sum of cash he offers for her head sets in motion an army of hitmen. Caught up in the action is naïve DJ and avid gamer Santiago Fernandez who overhears a secret meeting with Longana and his henchmen. At this point Santiago’s life turns into a violent video game complete with missions, guns, sexy women and brutal violence. His ultimate mission is to bring in the Machine Gun Woman and he has only 24 hours to do it.
In recent years, largely thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, the ode to the 70’s Grindhouse film has been a popular choice among low budget film-makers. From the big screen to the small screen we’ve been inundated with the nod, wink and smilingly trashy films like Death Proof, Planet Terror, Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun. That said we’ve all obviously been waiting with baited breath for Chilean Cinema to deliver us yet another Grindhouse flick…haven’t we?
Whether or not you’ve been clamouring to see what Chile has to offer to the recent Grindhouse trend, you’ll have to wait no more. Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman plays out as a cross between Run Lola Run, El Mariachi and Grand Theft Auto. A quiet Chilean DJ, who works at the club of a ruthless local drug dealer, overhears his boss ordering the death of his ex-girlfriend, also known as the Machine Gun Woman (who happens to be a hard as nails, notorious hit-woman). When Santiago is discovered hiding in a toilet cubicle, he is to be taken away to be killed and disposed of, but in a desperate bid to stay alive, Santiago suggests that he kills the woman. Despite the hilarity in which the murderous gangster takes the news, he allows Santiago to have a try. With little choice, Santiago proceeds on his mission, watched like a hawk and with himself and his family in danger if he doesn’t complete the mission. Meanwhile, The Machine Gun Woman is intent on wreaking revenge on her ex.
It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s weirdly endearing. Stylistically it embraces its trashy side with great wit, humour and a similar pace, and bass beating drive that you saw in Run Lola Run. Whilst it doesn’t offer quite the imagination of Tom Tykwer’s classic film, director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza handles proceedings with more than enough flair. There’s plenty of action, all filmed on a minimal budget, and as expected in this genre, pretty bloody.
The cast are good. The somewhat hapless Santiago is well played by Matias Oveldo. He’s a likeable hero of the piece, who persistently feels out of his depth. As the gangster head Che Longara, Jorge Alis has great fun. Fernanda Urrejola is fantastic as the titular assassin. She smoulders and oozes sex appeal as she spends most of the movie half naked wielding heavy weaponry. It’s a knowingly exploitative role, but with a great degree of charm.
The film breezes by at an incredibly brisk 75 minutes. It feels more genuine and a bit less indulgent than most of the American modern grindhouse films. I think there was just a little more concern in making something enjoyable, that worked in its own right, whilst adhering to a grindhouse sensibility, where-as certainly Death Proof was far too indulgent, and Planet Terror was also a bit excessively trashy, taking it beyond homage and irony and a bit too much into spoof. Likewise the overuse of CGI in that, almost defeats the initial concept. Here there’s almost no such problem as the film lacks the budget to be overloaded with CGI, and the streamlined, charming cast make it worthwhile. It probably won’t stay long in the memory but it’s a pleasant enough trip and won’t leave you with a headache.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★