Thursday, February 25, 2010

Zombie Bikini Squad (2009)

Directed by Yohei Fukuda
Starring Eri Otoguru, Chise Nakamura, Manami Hashimoto
Unrated
Japan

"Well...this seems promising."

From the man who brought you Tokyo Gore School - to say nothing of Schoolboy Crush, AKA Gay Love 2 - comes the impossible-to-ignore Zombie Bikini Squad, AKA Oneechanbara. A sort of live-action splatter-toon shot and edited with teenage speed freaks in mind, Oneechanbara is based on a video game (which, in turn, is based on a Manga) that I have never played, and know nothing about. Luckily, 95% of the movie is just a hot chick in a bikini killing zombies, so a working knowledge of the back story is not really necessary.

There is a plot, of sorts: Aya (adorable Eri Otoguro), her plump sidekick Katsuji (Tomohiro Waki) and a sad-sack, leather-clad female assassin, Reiko (Manami Hashimoto) team up to find Aya's long-lost sister, Saki (Chise Nakamura).

Unbeknownst to our heroes, schoolgirl Saki has joined forces with mad scientist Dr. Sugita (Taro Suwa), the man responsible for the devastating zombie invasion that has decimated the planet. At least that's what I think was going on. This movie is very distracting. Did I mention it stars a Japanese cowgirl in a skimpy bikini?

Anyway, that's basically it. A wisp of a plot, non-stop violence, and hot Asian chicks in fetish-y outfits. The perfect prescription for an adolescent-baiting video game, but does it work as a movie? To be honest, I wasn't always sure it was a movie. Many of the jump-cutting, dimestore CGI-laden action scenes - and they pour one on every 45 seconds - look as though they were lifted directly from the X-Box console. In that respect, Oneechanbara: Zombie Bikini Squad often seems like the world's laziest video game, like some new innovation wherein you don't even have to play the thing anymore, where it just plays itself until you fall asleep on the couch, having exhausted yourself from an 80 minute-bout of two-fisted, hot Japanese chick-inspired masturbation. I can see something like that working.

Unfortunately, 'looking just like a video game' is not one of my favorite film attributes. The problem with Oneechanbara is that it never elevates itself beyond its game adaptation roots. That's a shame, because with just a bit more attention to character and dialogue - and with a few gratuitous nude scenes - we'd really have something special on our hands. It does look pretty awesome, but there's nothing but a bunch of sputtering wires and circuits under that fur-lined bikini. It ain't got no heart.

Umm, game over, man. Game over!



- Ken McIntyre

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