Geisha of Death (2015)

Rating: C

Dir: Pedring Lopez
Star: Cesar Montano, Meg Imperial, Maria Ozawa, Cholo Barretto 
a.k.a. Nilalang or The Entity

Despite the title and the poster, this does not contain any actual geisha, as far as I can tell. Quite where that title was plucked from, remains a mystery, whose answer is known only to the marketing department of the US distributor. The original Filipino name makes considerably more sense. Events unfold as cop Tony (Montano) investigates a series of killings which have an eerie parallel to similar murders a decade before. Which is odd, because they ended with him killing the Japanese citizen responsible. Turns out that a supernatural spirit, Zahagur, capable of taking over people and forcing them to do its bidding, was actually to blame, and has returned to complete its mission.

Turns out this is quite a specific task, though I must confess, it felt as if the script was less clear on the details than it should be. There’s a book about demon-hunting, written in the blood of samurais, and the entity is targetting the members of a specific Japanese clan, who are the guardians of it. Or something roughly around that kind of thing. I have questions, such as why it also appears to go after Tony’s partner, sending him into a brief downward spiral of drinking and random gunfire. Still, he soon gets over his depression and starts working with new partner Jane (Imperial), with the help of Japanese clan daughter, Miyuki (former porn star Ozawa), who conveniently knows one end of a katana from the other.

While competently enough made, it never feels like it gets out of second gear. Montano is perhaps the biggest problem, bringing no notable personality to his role. Tony is just your stereotypical Troubled Cop™, all rugged good looks and no discernible character to speak of. I think sidekick Jane manages to do more in terms of development, in considerably less screen-time. Ozawa is fine when delivering her lines in Japanese, but struggles in English, which is a little odd since she’s half-Canadian. There are occasional moments of humour around the edge to enliven things, yet I was never grabbed by the central storyline, and nor was I ever invested beyond the surface in proceedings.

The action isn’t bad, particularly towards the end when Tony, Jane and Miyuki prepare to storm the stronghold of the demon, and the backup they summon basically gets its ass handed to it. That might be the best scene in the film, the spirit hopping from body to body and turning the cops against each other. It’s so well-staged, you wonder why they didn’t have more of this energetic mayhom in the preceding eighty minutes. Somewhat oddly, having spent most of the film setting up Tony as the hero, it’s not him who gets to battle Zahagur in the final fight, it’s Miyuki. This isn’t particularly up to much, though I guess it’s as close as the film ever comes to justifying its title.