Gun Crazy 2: Beyond the Law is straight, good ol', unabashed b-movie fare. Actually, that might not be fair. It is actually a tad closer to z-grade fare. My theory is, the enjoyment one gets out of this kind of action flick, aside from the low budget thrills, is the lack of originality. Honestly, while that is a detriment to most films, for your not-trying-too-hard, straight to video, action flick, the audience for this sort of thing is actually looking for those old stereotypes. I think it has something to do with the reassuring nature of knowing what is coming next.
Yuki (Rei Kikukawa, who I assume, based on her "talents", is some model turned actress) is a lawyer who is tired of seeing her cases fail and clients not get justice because of the systems corruption. At least we assume that is the reason and not that she is a terrible lawyer. Her firm takes the case of some mobsters, but she finds out her firm helped forge a fake alibi that the opposing lawyers uncovered. The mobsters don't like the prospect of losing and just as they are about to execute her, a hitman, Takita, comes in and blows them away.
The film then makes the same "the gun is more powerful than the law" point three times in just as many minutes- I guess they assumed they needed to hammer that one home. Her firm goes in the toilet. Yuki loses her licence to practice law, starts buying gun magazines, and conveniently sees the hitman again and begins to follow him around. One doesn't need a vigilante training manual to know what comes next- pretty soon she's getting pointers from Takita, sporting a black trench coat, blowing away corrupt thugs and gangsters, and everything is hunky dory until she realizes Takita is, after all, a freaking gangster and she is forced to take on the man that trained her.
Observant and half comatose viewers watching the film will notice little bits taken from El Mariachi, True Romance and La Femme Nikita. If they were executed with more skill, I would have said they were nods/references, instead they come off as reminders of far better films. For instance, the La Femme Nikita bit is Yuki's first hit at a restaurant, just like in Bessons's film, only there is no bravado escape, and in the Gun Crazy 2 universe she gets away because the restaurant patrons laughter covers up the sound of two colt .45's being shot? Yeah.... okay.
To be fair, I guess, it isn't about realism. It is about action cliche, from double barreled shotguns being capable of exploding a car, to Gatling guns stolen from Jesse Yentura in Predator, to the obligatory abandoned warehouse shootout finale. But, Junk and Gun Crazy 1: A Woman from Nowhere director Atsushi Muroga just paints it by numbers and it all comes across as pretty sub standard. Part of me is almost happy and utterly shocked that this kind of late 80's early 90's action, shoot em' up, fare is still being made, but unfortunately it just didn't have enough cheap thrills or character to keep me very interested.
So, it is a yawner, which doesn't say much considering the short running time. Though the back of the DVD says "Approximately 70 mins", when the credits were rolling my player was somewhere around the 62 minute mark, and I guarantee the credits didn't last eight minutes.
The DVD: ADV
Picture: Anamorphic Widescreen. Well, it is a low budget film, so the image isn't exactly top notch. The transfer is fine, giving the best possible presentation of lesser material. So, yeah, it is a little soft, the contrast is a little grayed, and the colors aren't exactly eye-popping or rich, but that is the way it was shot.
Sound: Dolby 5.1 English dub or 2.0 Japanese language with optional English subtitles. The 5.1 dub vocals really pop out. Though they may technically be sharper, the last thing a b-film needs is a lackluster dub because that just makes it seem ten times sillier. The original Japanese track is adequate, and though lacking in sharpness, comes across even and full. The subs have some spots where you'll have to be a speed reader.
Extras: Rei Kikukawa Interview (12:15)-- ADV Previews.
Conclusion: Well, really it is scant all around- the films budget, acting talent, plotting, the DVD extras. It is very difficult for me to recommend purely based on the fact that it is so damn short. Maybe if this were a double DVD with the first film, I'd say it was worth a casual purchase for some trashy fun. Skip it or a make it a rental, but only if all the HK era John Woo and Kinji Fukusaku films are out.