Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Weather Woman (1995)

Directed by Tomoaki Hosoyama
Starring Kei Mizutani, Takashi Sumida, Yasuyo Shirashima, Saori Taira
Rated X
Japan

“God! She's got no knickers on! That's what I call a woman!”

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Based on the adult manga series ‘Weather Report Girl’, Weather Woman (known as Otenki-oneesan in Japan) was a straight to video affair when first released. However, after showings at numerous film festivals – including awards at the Stockholm and Oslo International Film Festivals – it was pulled from the shelves and given a proper theatrical release in 1996. It ended up being one of the highest grossing films in Japan that year. It’s also, in that great tradition of Japanese film, totally batshit insane: a sex and violence filled live-action cartoon, with martial arts, magic, songs and nudity galore.

Plus, as a bonus, it functions reasonably well as a satire of the nature of ratings and celebrity. I even had a media studies teacher who claimed it was his favourite film around the time it came out, so that must mean it’s clever. Well, maybe.

Things start as all good films should – with the main character dressed in high school uniform masturbating on a roof top.

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It’s not really clear what Keiko Nakadai (Japanese softcore queen Kei Mizutani) is doing up there, but it’s not really important either. Watching her – again, for some unexplained but unimportant reason – is Minoru Yamagishi (Takashi Sumida), a classmate who is totally obsessed with her.

He interrupts to confess his love to her, so she jump kicks him in the head. “You're the first woman I could give my life to!” he exclaims.

“Alright,” she replies. “Jump off the building.”

He climbs to the edge, but can’t quite bring himself to do it, so Keiko jumps off first, telling him to follow. A pole gets struck by lightning while he watches her fly off and then the opening credits roll.

The action cuts to a few years later – Minoru is flipping burgers for a living, while Keiko is masturbating in a cubicle in a flashy TV station office building.

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Regular weather woman Michiko Kawai (Saori Taira) is off sick, so Keiko is set to fill in for her. She reads through the weather demurely and politely, until she gets to the end of it.

“In Sapporo 40cm of snow fell,” she says, stepping out from behind the desk. “As my skirt is 10cm above the knee, 40cm will be...this high!”

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Minoru, who’s watching from a ramen shop, is stunned. Then the whole city goes bananas for Keiko. She’s on the front page of the newspaper, and copies are selling like some kind of heated cake product.

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Unsurprisingly, she’s brought in to face the station’s board of directors, although she arrives late. Also she flips into the room.

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“What have you been doing?” one of them asks.

“Masturbating, actually,” she replies calmly. “A part of my morning routine.”

She goes on to point out that the ratings are the best the station has seen in some time. The chairman of the board enters the conversation and gives Keiko his blessing. There’s a little argument from the rest of the board, but he silences it quickly. “Don’t you like panties?” he asks.

Keiko is given her own executive suite, and then sings a song.

Minoru helps bring some of her furniture in, then proceeds to hide while she goes off to do her panty-flashing weather segment.

This time, she’s being watched by ousted weather woman Michiko and her boyfriend, Masao (Kunihiro Ida). “She’s not bad,” he says. She gets whiney, so he promises to find a way to get her the position back. Then he feeds her cold jelly noodles from his mouth while wearing just a towel.

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Keiko finishes her segment and begins to berate one of the station’s workers for leaving her with such an austere corridor to walk down on her way to the executive suite. So he fixes it up.

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She flips down it to her suite. When she gets there, she masturbates in the bath for a bit, then begins to organise her chest full of sex toys in a display cabinet.

Before she can get through more than one handful of toys, Minoru pops out and once again declares his love for her. She tells him to jump off the roof, then jump kicks him in the head.

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Meanwhile, Michiko and Masao are in bed, both dressed in girl’s school uniforms. He’s also wearing some kind of miner’s lamp headset. He tells her it’s because he works for an ad agency and knows all the top trends, which she seems pleased about. “You and I are creating a new era right now,” he mumbles, checking out her feet with the lamp while rubbing her butt.

“Oh, Masao?” she says suddenly. “I'm having my period now. Is dry humping okay?”

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Next day, the two of them are at a restaurant, talking with one of Masao’s bosses. He promises to do what he can to get Michiko her job back. She’s a little concerned that it might make things worse for her, but it’s not long until they get a phone call telling them to come to Keiko’s suite.

Unfortunately, when they get there, Keiko’s well and truly taken control of the situation.

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It definitely makes things worse for Michiko. Not only does Keiko make the ad executive bark at them while riding his back, she orders him to come up with an “interesting new program” for Michiko to host.

And so, Michiko ends up hosting ‘Hello, Mr Pervert!’. The first episode is about an enema enthusiast. Michiko has to hold the washbasin in order to catch the, erm, exiting fluids, but doesn’t quite get the angle right.

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Meanwhile, the network chairman’s daughter, Kaori Shimamori (Yasuyo Shirashima) catches some of the media frenzy about Keiko on TV while she’s over in France. She’s incensed because the entire reason she’d been sent over there was to learnt how to be the best weather woman ever, so she immediately heads back to Japan. “She looks like the girl who spilt milk on my lunchbox at school,” Kaori rages to an assistant at the airport. “Unforgivable!”

She yells at her father – who’s busy putting together a Keiko jigsaw puzzle – but he’s not about to fire the network’s biggest star without a reason. So Kaori hatches a plot: Michiko will serve as Keiko’s maid in order to dig up dirt. Mercifully, in exchange, ‘Hello, Mr Pervert!’ will be cancelled.

So, this time, when Keiko finishes her segment and flips down a corridor of half-naked men, Michiko is waiting for her. She explains that she’s the new maid, and the two of them end up in the bathroom. Michiko is just about to begin sponging Keiko off after her bubble bath when she’s stopped. “Doing it like that might damage my skin,” says Keiko. “Use your tongue instead.”

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So she does.

Things take a turn for the worse the next day though. Keiko’s segment is dropped after a breaking news story comes in at the last minute: a self-confessed Keiko fan robbed a young girl of her ice cream. Keiko seethes at the humiliation of being bumped off air, while Kaori smirks upstairs in the control room.

Next day, the police ask Keiko and the station chairman to tone down the segment. And so, she reads the weather politely, dresses conservatively, and stands behind her desk the whole time.

Not that this changes anything in her executive suite.

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However, not only is Kaori concocting news stories – she’s watching and taping the lesbian action in the bathroom too. The next night, she gets the tape put to air mid way through Keiko’s segment, and Keiko’s career is ruined. “This old man really enjoyed seeing you flash your panties...” says the chairman, mournfully.

Kaori steps in as weather woman, and begins to plan a weather report that will be more than a segment – it’ll be it’s own show. Michiko still has to work as a maid though.

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But Keiko hasn’t given up yet. She enlists the help of Minoru, and the two of them go off to a hut in the forest to train with the legendary Heavenly Whip, which Keiko has tracked down in an effort to defeat Kaori.

Apparently, the training involves hanging Keiko from the roof while Minoru whips her. Seems valid.

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Eventually, the training is complete, and Keiko – in blonde wig and an outfit made by Minoru – crashes the debut of Kaori’s new show.

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What follows is battle of the weather women, complete with magic, martial arts and also two commentators. It’s almost crazy enough to make the rest of the film look sane in comparison.

Despite (or maybe in addition to) its rampant insanity, Weather Woman is a truly great film. It shoots for an absurd number of genres – comedy, satire, martial arts, softcore, occasional musical – and somehow manages to succeed on every front.

Plus, it all moves at such a pace that it’s never for a single moment of its very economical 85 minutes boring; and even if it were, there’s enough sex, violence, laughs and nudity to keep things entertaining. Easily, and highly, recommended.

- Alistair Wallis

Thursday, April 21, 2011

House Where Evil Dwells (1982)

Directed by Kevin Conner
Starring Edward Albert, Susan George, Doug McClure
Rated R
USA/Japan

"There's an awful face in my soup!"

The sick, sick 70's spewed up a steaming gutpile of genuinely frightening haunted house flicks, from Amityville Horror (1979) to the jarring Burnt Offerings (1976). While House Where Evil Dwells gamely attempts a similar sense of atmospheric dread, this early 80's culture-clash spooker - a sort of proto-Grudge - fails to dredge up any scares. In fact, it's one of the silliest horror flicks of the 80's, and that's saying something. Directed by Motel Hell mastermind Kevin Conner, House takes a seriously dumb premise and plays it so straight that it's a miracle the actors got through it without bursting into fits of laughter with every take.

In the super slo-mo prologue - set a hundred years or so prior to the main events - a samurai warrior comes home to find his wife banging his buddy. Naturally, he goes berserk, lopping off heads and arms in a frenzy of blood and gore, before committing harikari. Done. Roll credits.


Fast-forward to the present. As "present" as 1982 ever got, anyway. Ted Fletcher (Edward Albert), a porn-mustachioed journalist of some stripe, is taking his family on an extended trip to Japan to work on a "story". His job and his work is never clearly explained, but it involves wearing headbands and carrying a camera around. Anyway, said family consists of wife Laura (dentally-challenged 70's scream queen Susan George) and mousy daughter (Amy Barrett, last seen getting menaced by fishmen in Humanoids from the Deep).


They are met at the airport by Ted's best-bud Alex (lantern-jawed Doug McClure, also from Humanoids. Also RIP), who has set them up with a house nestled in a hillside. It's got a garden and all the modern conveniences, and it's only $250 American a month! Wow, what a deal! There's only one hitch: it's haunted. That's right, he rented them the killer samurai's joint.


Of course, being forward-thinking westerners, the Fletchers laugh off the notion of ghosts and move in to their sweet new digs. Guess what? Weird shit starts happening almost immediately. During a celebratory toast, Alex's shot of Saki flips over right in front of his eyes. Later that night, Laura switches on a light, and it repeatedly switches itself back off. Still, could be wind and faulty wiring, right? Of course, the audience knows differently, because we can actually see the kimono-sporting, ashen-faced spooks wandering around the joint, upending the furniture. This risible "special effect" looks exactly like all the 'hauntings' in Scooby Doo, and undercuts any sense of anxiety the film was hoping to muster. If there was ever a textbook case of "unintentional humor", these fuckin' ghosts are it.


Ignoring the bumps in the night, Ted and Laura christen the joint by doing a little bumping-in-the-night of their own in a dimly-lit, agonizingly prolonged softcore fuck scene. I didn't know it was possible to get bored by Susan George's boobs until I saw this movie.


The next morning, the local exorcist - he lives right up the road, very convenient - drops by to tell Ted his house is cursed. Ted tells him to beat it. The exorcist laughs at the foolish American, telling him to drop by when things get crazy. I get the feeling we'll be seeing him again.


So, Ted has some business meetings. I don't know why, sense he's supposed to be a journalist, but he does. One of 'em's held at a sushi bar, and he ends up dancing and making out with a Japanese woman who bears a striking resemblance to the ghost in his house. Also, Laura starts having an affair with Alex, essentially repeating the same mistakes that got the original occupants of the house murdered. So that's not good.


There's also a scene where the ghost shows up as a topless pearl diver (? Something like that) and tries to drown Ted while he's shooting photos of other (non-topless) pearl divers.


Oh, and what about little Amy? Well, at one point, one of the ghosts invades her cup of soup, and when she refuses to eat it, dad pours the hot spectral goo right down her throat. If that's not bad enough, one evening while she's being watched by her tutor, the house is attacked by a pair of angry crabs (they chatter away like grumpy Japanese businessmen!) who eventually chase her up a tree. True story.


Eventually, Ted figures out that the legend may actually be true, and pays a visit to the exorcist. He drops by the house and says a few magic words, which chases the ghosts out the door. And then he tells them not to let anybody in. These, apparently, are the kind of ghosts you can actually lock out of the house.


Unfortunately, Alex stops by to have a fistfight with Ted over Laura, which lets the ghosts back in. And then the craziness really begins. I will not spoil the blood-caked finale for you, but I will say this: there's an awesome dummy-head-on-a-string decapitation to look forward to.


House Where Evil Dwells is as goofy as it gets, so if you're looking for chills and thrills, you'll definitely be disappointed. But if you're in the mood for a delightfully cheeseball b-flick, then you'll want to give this one a spin. Hardcore Susan George fans (like me!) will find all of her signature moves here: scowling, grousing, pouting, awkward 'love-making', throwing things in fits of anger.


She also sports lots of ill-fitting designer jeans and flashes those crazy Chiclet teeth a lot. There's some awesome HG Lewis-esque gore thrown in there too, and Albert's mustache is so fuckin' sleazy looking that it's honestly the scariest part of the entire film.


The more I think about this one, the more I like it. I just think the title is a little misleading. How about House Where Nonsense Dwells?



- Ken McIntyre 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection (2010)

Directed by Various
Starring Various
Unrated
Japan

"What kind of crazy hospital is this?"

On November 9, 2010, Impulse Pictures, an imprint of Synapse Films, will release the Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection - a remastered archive of 38 Nikkatsu trailers plus a 30 min. short entitled Ryoko's Lesbian Flight.

What is Nikkatsu Roman Porno, you may ask? Allow me to explain. The Nikkatsu Corporation, founded in 1912, is Japan's oldest major movie studio. In 1971, Nikkatsu introduced their "Roman Porno"(which is short for "romantic pornography") line in order to keep afloat, as television had hit the film industry pretty hard by this point. Over the course of their run from 1971 through 1988, Nikkatsu released over a thousand of these "romantic pornography" films, and Impulse Pictures now has rights to many of them; hence, this collection.

Impulse Pictures will be releasing more than 25 full length titles from the "Roman Porno" back catalogue in the near future, but until then, they offer this trailer collection to wet your whistle for what's to come. In this volume, we have over 60 minutes of film trailers that run the gamut from schoolgirl/nurse motifs to bondage, food play - and beyond.
Films of this era can lean on erotosized rape themes a bit, apparently in part as a reaction to the strict censorship laws in Japan at the time and that are still largely in effect today. Sure, you won't see any offensive genitalia, but as a trade-off, you get an increase of torture and sexual assault as arousal material to compensate. Don't get me wrong, rape is not the sole theme in these films, but if titles like "Rape Me", "Rape Shot", "Rape!", or "Rape Apartments" don't tickle your fancy, you may be better off staying clear of this (or simply taking advantage of the skip button on your remote).


On the other hand, if you like Asian cinema - particularly of the erotic variety - you probably already know what you're getting into and will find plenty to enjoy here. The production values of these features are significantly higher than typical soft-core fare, being that Nikkatsu was quite the powerhouse studio at the time, and many of these films were helmed by "legitimate" directors and actors.


It's great that lost or endangered cinema such as this gets another chance to be seen by a future generation and I highly suggest, if your constitution is strong enough, that you pick up a copy of Nikkatsu Roman Porno Trailer Collection and start filling out your wish list today.


Other titles in this collection include: Coed Report: Yoko's White Breasts, Female Gymnastics Instructor: Jump and Straddle, I Love it From Behind!, Nurse's Dormitory: Assy Fingers, Pearl Diver: Tight Shellfish, and The Lovers are Wet.

- Jeremy Vaca

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kekko Kamen (2004)

Directed by Takafumi Nagamine
Starring Shino Saito, Juri Inahara, Moa Arimoto
Unrated
Japan

"Once there was a person who fought for the dreams and liberty of young people by exposing herself."
Reading about Japanese pop culture history before my visit there earlier this year got me to appreciate the importance of Shonen Jump. In Kyoto, I loved the manga museum and bought two recent copies of the thick weekly comic anthology from a 7-11. Hell, I could even follow some of the stories despite the language barrier. The Kekko Kamen story began in Shonen Jump in 1974 and has since spawned 10 live action films, more comics and Anime. Students get abused and Kekko Kamen fights the bad people as her small, exposed boobs bounce around in lovely fashion. That's it.

The 3:30-long opening credit sequence is a music video montage of the movie you're about to see (a device I'd expect to see perhaps open an Argentine telenovela). All essential plot twists aren't necessarily spoiled there, as they will be here, but it's an absolutely fucking ridiculous way to begin.

Having been accepted into a prestigious Japanese boarding school for future TV anchorwomen, adorable Mayumi (played by Juri Inahara) returns to her homeland and dreams of being a star. Cue dramatic music and look at the moon. This school is strict, though, and Mayumi's life there becomes increasingly difficult when everyone learns that she can't read Kanji very well (fun fact: school children in Japan are expected to know more than 1,000 Kanji characters by sixth grade). This lapse of basic Japanese education is explained simply: Mayumi's family is Japanese but she's been raised in New Zealand. The entire purpose of this back story is to get Mayumi into the basement torture chamber for "special lessons."

And that officially launches this 69-minute-long film. You see, Kekko Kamen is some kind of light, general and all-encompassing Japanese fetish project masked as a nudie action film. We've already got a schoolgirl stripped to bra and panties, in restraints on a carousel horse while suffering light whips and spanks from authority figures of both genders. These violent bastards then force Mayumi to read out loud...and then they brush her teeth while she screams for help.
These screams do not go unanswered--Kekko Kamen (played by Shino Saito) responds, gaining entrance into the chamber using her sexy legs as distraction. ZAM! The full image of our heroine is not unlike a red Power Ranger clad only in vinyl boots and gloves, a mask complete with something like floppy stuffed bunny ears and an exaggerated scarf which continually flirts with her asscrack and magically manages to hide her genitals.

"Even if heaven forgives your evil doings, I will not!" KK declares before summarily kicking ass. Her finishing move? "Muffication!" as she descends, beav first, onto her opponent's shoulders, her legs snapping the neck. The filmmakers seem to think the bad guys are suffocated by KK's vagina, but this film isn't smut, people, she just freezes her opponents with the sight of her special place and then...snap. Before scene end, KK promises Mayumi that she'll be protected as long as she doesn't give up on her dreams. How sweet and profound.

The evil headmaster, watching live surveillance footage from throughout the campus (which he apparently peddles on the voyeur porn market) sees KK in action and is horrified. He claims she's his "greatest enemy" as she "completely obliterated" his first school.

Mayumi shares her ordeal with several classmates while looking up at the moon...as professional newscaster Mizuho Sakuragi (played by Keiko Kubo) listens in, sort-of-but-not-really hiding behind a wall.

An ugly-faced, large-breasted student who bought her way into the school is next snatched up for special lessons of her own by a school authority figure I know in my own mind only as "Red Boss Man," the evil tooth brusher from Mayumi's earlier encounter. Naturally, he pushes her down onto a table, straddles her and explains his special gift: the ability to suck energy out of breasts and turn it into other energy. He laughs, moving his head stupidly between her breasts and inhaling a green fog that has emerged--her boob power. This student is then transformed into Akira, a young man with the mission to catch KK once and for all. Akira is, hilariously, typical androgynous Tokyo rentboy fare.
Mizuho, the newscaster, meets with the headmaster in search of a top student to begin working at her channel. The ensuing rivalry and stress leaves students sweating torrents and dosing friends/competition with laxatives. The latter, of course, leads to fart and poopie jokes. And I laughed. Then realizing this was just another fetish for the filmmakers to exploit, I laughed harder.

Akira squeals on his supposed mentor (for lack of a better term) for some nonsense I can't recall and the student ends up in the basement, restrained and surrounded by lovely, fresh tomatoes as well as the usual gang of molesters. This time, one has a chainsaw--and of course slices up some tomatoes--and in cutting the student's clothes off, they're shocked that it's a girl. OMG! Well, yeah, that's a girl, she looked like a girl with clothes on. Then KK enters...kicks ass. This scene exists only to fill time and incorporate more fetishes.
Underwear starts disappearing the same morning that news reporter-ballroom dancing hybrid skills are to be tested. Wakana, the student responsible for the laxative dosing and a supposed friend of Mayumi, couldn't find her panties that morning and, expectedly, falls on her back...cameraman (for the school, not this film) zooming in with her legs spread for an upskirt shot. For this offense--not wearing underwear in a holy room (WTF?)--Wakana is ordered special treatment...and is locked in a glass box with eels while she's poked with a spear. Mayumi comes to Wakana's rescue, despite their personal issues...and just as the headmaster had planned. So, Mayumi gets tossed into the eel box with Wakana in order to attract KK, the real target.

And the headmaster planned this well, he's got an extra fighter this round. And what a secret weapon it is! Yeah, an obese transvestite (or a woman seemingly dressed up as one) that looks like comedian Bobby Lee in drag. As they struggle with KK, Akira "rescues" Mayumi and they flee the room...no, it's not over. Akira takes this moment to reveal his super-hero secret: "An illusion in my heart, an orange muffler around my neck...they call me the Illusionary Panty! Come panties, provide me with your powers!" Yeah, he said that...then transformed into some asshole with an orange scarf, panties on his head (Mayumi's favorite pair, no less!) and panties attached to his dumb black clothes. What a piece of shit.

The Illusionary Panty pulls down Mayumi's panties, but she escapes with them back into the torture chamber. Without the extra power of that one additional pair of underwear the Illusionary Panty has to play dirty, whipping out a handgun...eagle eye on KK. Oh noes! Mayumi ain't no dummy, though, as she lifts up her skirt (panties still pulled down) and temporarily blinds all of the bad people with the sight of her beautiful, unseen vagina, which glows with magical censorship just like KK's during "muffication." And one of KK's gloves floats across the room and takes the Illusionary Panty's gun, shooting the Bobby Lee monster. Geez...Freud would have had a field day with this mess.

So, KK kicks ass again and frees the boob power of the ugly-faced-large-breasted-girl-turned-Akira-turned-Illusionary-Panty, the neon green chi chi essence returns and she wakes up...wearing only a bra and skirt, of course.

To save face, the headmaster unveils his three "androids" created to destroy KK. More secret weapons? Yup. Well, not so much as the "androids" are all donned in last-minute Halloween costumes.
1) "Iron Steel Kamen" - his "body covered in steel" is just a shirtless man in silver boxer shorts and a crappy metal-looking mask/helmet.
2) "Turtle Kamen" - some dummy in Speedos wearing a turtle shell strapped to his back.
3) "Healthy Kamen" - a dude in tighty whiteys.

The headmaster created three stupid "androids," this is true, but his gold, multi-purpose, penis-shaped remote control was rocking 12 number buttons!
Cage match time...and Mizuho and her own cameraman emerge from the shadows, broadcasting the battle live, with Mayumi giving the play-by-play. KK is again victorious, but her "muffication" destroys Mayumi's promised TV job with Mizuho (who gets fired) for broadcasting the spread-leg attack.
The headmaster, from a hospital bed, vows revenge and even names the next battle...segue into another KK fight scene (presumably footage from a sequel). Oh yeah, there are more of these shit gems.

It's almost a kid's movie with subversive kink (and KK's bouncing boobies) throughout. Amusing as a 20-minute short film, absolutely. But multiple feature-length films? C'mon.

- Michael P.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Battle Girl: Living Dead in Tokyo Bay (1991)

Directed by Kazuo Komizu
Starring Dynamite Kansai, Shinobu Kandori, Katsuhiro Fukudo
Unrated
Japan

"You are...so gross!"

A paper mâché meteor slams into Tokyo Bay, instantly submerging most of Tokyo. That's not the worst of it, though. The dust and debris, combined with the outer space "heavy metals", causes a chemical reaction called "Cosmo-Amphetamine" (!), which reanimates the dead as kill-crazy "Flesh robots". These green-blooded ghouls feast on the living while the military attempts to seal off the area. K-Lo, the daughter of a high-ranking Colonel, slips quietly into the warzone to retrieve the special "Battle Suit" her father stashed for her. Seems that a renegade colonel has set up a mutant "Human Hunters" squad inside Tokyo to massacre every shuffling creature, whether they be still-breathing or undead. It's up to K-Lo, the Battle Girl herself, to make it safely to the survivor camps and bring the still-living back to safety beyond Tokyo's doomed borders. But with zombies, human hunters, and crooked soldiers all gunning for, does Battle Girl have a chance?

Oh, she'll live through it, sure. The viewer? That's a different story.


Battle Girl clearly aims for a Road Warrior/Day of the Dead mash-up with it's post-apoc punks and mad scientist zombie experiments, but it's so cheap and grubby and sluggish that it's actually a lot closer to bottom-shelf 80's VHS gunk like Neon Maniacs or Warriors of the Wasteland. Filled with ugly make-up and laughable special effects and saddled with a muddy, confusing script, Battle Girl is a merciless, sleep-inducing slog. Even at its bare-bones 74 minute running time, it feels like an eternity.


Undiscerning zom-flick completists may want to check this snoozer out, but sleaze-beasts and skin-fans are encouraged to use the hour and fourteen minutes more wisely. Porn, perhaps, or a nice nap.


- Ken McIntyre

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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