Archive for japan

Tokyo Zombie

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2012 by splatterpictures

Sometimes when I grab something off the DVD shelf I never know what I’m going get. I had a feeling about Tokyo Zombie: A movie with Jiu-Jitsu, zombies and comedy? Sold!

While I’m the first to admit that with all of the over-saturation of the zombie genre in the last few years I tend to roll my eyes at every new title announced I do find it fun that some things get region one releases where they might never have if zombies weren’t hot right now.

Tokyo Zombie was released in 2005 in Japan, and was given a region one DVD release in 2009. It’s based off the popular 1999 Manga written by Yusaku Hanakuma. The films directing duties were handed to Sakichi Sato and it stars Tadanobu Asano and Show Aikawa.

The year is unknown, I guess modern times but in this version of Japan there is a massive garbage dump at the epicentre of Tokyo. It’s full of toxic waste, garbage and the discarded bodies of the dead. The people call it “Black Fuji” because of the black ash that surrounds the mountain. Death and murder are treated pretty differently. If you kill somebody you just dump the body and forget about it. It makes for a few hilarious situations.

The main characters are Fukio and Mitsuo, (Asano and Aikawa respectively) they are you typical idiot and straight man buddy picture duo. The fun thing is how the pair are obsessed with becoming Jiu-Jitsu champions. They train all day instead of focusing on their jobs at a fire extinguisher factory (where they seem to be the only ones who work there). Their boss shows up and after a brief argument they accidentally kill him. So off to Black Fuji they go to get rid of his body.

This is about where the zombies start popping up and then it’s their fight for survival as they make their way to Russia where apparently the manliest men live and they can perfect their fighting styles.

The films take an interesting turn about midway through and does a time skip. I’m certain that’s just how the Manga ended up but as a movie it’s pretty weird. A lot of zombie movies take place either at the initial outbreak or well after the fact in sort of a post apocalyptic scenario where humans are barely surviving. A good example of the two extremes would be if Night of the Living Dead and then Land of The Dead were one movie.

When it gets into this portion the whole buddy comedy thing is over and now it’s just Fujio fighting in arena style matches against the undead. There is a hilarious twist towards the end of the movie though that I thought was fantastic. I usually don’t like it when movies switch gears like this so dramatically but in this case I felt it worked.

The jokes are mostly physical comedy which is good. A lot of times when you’re watching a movie from Japan the jokes can be lost in translation but I found myself laughing out loud at more than a few scenes.

I wouldn’t say it’s very gory so people looking for that type thing will be disappointed. It’s also plagued by some pretty bad CGI but I think in this case they knew it looked ridiculous and in a lot of ways it serves to enhance the comedy. Check it out!



Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by splatterpictures

Well no sense in straying too far from the mark; we’re going to tackle another Tokyo Shock production. This time we’re looking at the very first Shock picture I ever saw, and boy was I spoiled. I used to check out this site, Veoh, and one day I happened upon a little Thumbnail that said “Versus,” and I had no idea what was in store for me.

A lot of both action and horror movies come out of Japan, and Versus is really one of those special combinations that shouldn’t be passed up.

The film was released in 2000 and was directed by Ryuhei Kitamura. Originally Kitamura intended to do a sequel to his film, Down to Hell, but somewhere down the line there was a disagreement regarding whether or not a Japanese action film could compare with an American one. The result was that Kitamura found a lot of inspiration from classic 80’s genre films such as Mad Max and Evil Dead. He felt traditional special effects were missing from modern action/horror and felt that traditional effects could bring impact and power to the screen without being overly expensive to produce. He also felt that filming with one or two cameras would make things a lot cheaper and allow more continuous shots with less cuts (in the style of older Asian cinema).

One thing that I found strange was that he claimed not to like a lot of Japanese animation or things of the sort. I find this odd because when I first saw it, I honestly felt like I was watching a live action anime or videogame.

Kitamura also has a reputation for disliking the film industry. He chose his cast based on their looks or if he had worked with them before rather than their skill. He works with story boards but never follows them completely and, furthermore, he’ll completely change an actor’s role in the film if he likes them and they are doing a good job.

He said he wanted to make a movie that was really simple, which might be why none of the characters really have names. There is not a lot of character detail or full explanations about why certain characters are even there. He felt that action and horror films from the 80’s had it right, that they were there to entertain and not try to be something they aren’t.

Okay, so the idea behind that film is that there is a forest known as the forest of resurrection. It’s essentially a gateway from this world and the “other world,” so I would assume they mean the afterlife. It starts off with two prisoners escaping into the woods to meet up with a bunch of gangsters. Things get tense quickly and people start dying, and then coming back to life. It seems that because they are in the forest of resurrection at this specific time, the dead will rise. The gangsters also have a girl in their possession for no reason other than their “boss” desired it. Prisoner KSC2-303 (Tak Sakaguchi) takes off with the girl after his partner is killed and they head into the woods… time to let the no-holds-barred action begin!

They fight off seemingly endless zombies with amazing gunplay and martial arts. All the gangsters are pretty badass because you think that the zombies would pose a challenge, but they just destroy them. My personal favourite is the Yakuza Leader (Kenji Matsuda) because he is just completely insane. His movements are wild and crazy but somehow get the job done.

The way he delivers his lines are great, too. Matsuda said that he wasn’t much of an action star, so he relied more on his acting to make it good. Two other great characters are the cops chasing them. They really have no roles other than comic relief and it’s great. The one cop with the Barrett just randomly spouts off lines about how he’s the best at everything such as being the ultimate martial artist (which leads to a hilarious scene). The other cop has his hand cut off at the start of the film and just walks around like he doesn’t even care!

The film takes an even more bizarre turn when the boss finally shows up. Everything starts to fall into place and we soon realize that it’s a film that is really about reincarnation. Also, just when you thought zombies were bad, they now have “Hyper-Zombies”. What are hyper-zombies? Well hyper zombies are like regular zombies but they know kung-fu. Honestly, you have to see this to believe it. This movie also has a great twist ending that I won’t spoil.

The special effects really shine in this one. These guys really seem to rip the undead apart with flashy sword and gun play and, I know I’ve said this before, but everyone could learn from this film. Traditional special effects are always going to just look great if done right and you don’t always need to do everything on a computer.

The actors and crew on this film had a lot of passion for their work and it shows in the film. They even all got together four years after the film was completed to film new scenes and expand upon others that they couldn’t because of cost or time.

Tak Sakaguchi did all of his own stunts and he ended up breaking three ribs and losing a tooth in the process. Another amusing note is that a lot of the actors pulled double or even triple duty cooking meals or doing behind the scenes work. It really goes to show that, although unconventional, Kitamura has some method to his madness. I highly recommend you all check this one out.

Tokyo Gore Police

Posted in Horror Showcase, Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2011 by splatterpictures

Well it’s time to dive head first into another horror showcase, and do I have a twisted one for you today. We’re going to be Talking about Tokyo Gore Police.

Let me just preface this entire thing by telling you that you have never seen anything like this. I’ve tried countless times to explain this movie to a lot of different people and I usually get about half-way through before I get “the look”. You know the look I’m talking about, the “what the fuck is he on” look. I’ve talked a lot lately about older horror films and looking back on my blog as a whole, they are all pretty tame by today’s standards. (Obviously not including Cannibal Holocaust on that one)

I’ve lectured a lot of people on horror movies over the years and what I’ve learned is that most people just aren’t aware of the stuff that comes out of other countries. Italy, Japan, Brazil, and Mexico, for instance, all push the limits of gore.

Oh, but we aren’t talking about just any gory movie. We are talking about Tokyo -GORE- Police. It’s right in the title, so buckle up. Just a word of warning: the trailer I’m linking you is -not- safe for work.

It’s hard for me to even know where to start. Tokyo Gore Police was released in 2008 by the good people at Media Blaster. They were so impressed by Yoshihiro Nishimura’s special effects work on their previous hit, Machine Girl, that they asked him to hold the reins of this one. Media Blasters has a reputation of pulling out the stops of their films before. The really crazy stuff gets released through their Tokyo Shock label, and “Shock” is putting it mildly.

Alright so I bet you’re just dying to know what this movie is about, so I will try my very best to make it as simple as possible. It’s the not-too-distant future and the Tokyo Police have become privatized. There is a single mandate to all crime, and that is to kill the criminal as quickly and brutally as possible. Of course nothing is as simple as that. Among the people that have been targeted as criminals are what are known as “engineers.” These are people that have strange key-shaped tumours in their bodies, tumors that allow –any- injury to be reformed into a weapon. That’s right. Did you lose your arm? No problem, you now have a meat-like sword arm. Did you lose the top of your head? No problem, you now have an exposed brain with eye-ball guns. There is absolutely one scene I have to mention. A guy gets his dick bit off and yes, he gets a giant dick gun. No I am not kidding!

The main character is, as usual, a sexy katana-wielding cop named Ruka (Eihi Shiina). The actress has been in a couple of Media Blasters pictures that I can think of, but nothing major and performs well in her role. Her character has a dark past and a nasty habit of cutting herself that she seems to have gotten from her mother. Her father was killed by an unknown assassin and the movie shows her battling these engineers and piecing together who killed her father and why. It has a surprisingly solid story for this kind of movie that is easy to get into.

The actions scenes are intense. The first five minutes alone set the tone and, I promise you, they have things you’ve never seen before. Girls with blades for arms and legs, acid breast milk, flying chainsaw arms… I could go on and on. It is also important to note that, despite being a dark movie, it contains a lot of comedy. I find that the gore effects are so over the top that they end up being funny. You laugh just because it’s to so bizarre! They also have a lot of propaganda commercials and other ads throughout the film that are pretty funny.

One thing I really like about this film is that, for the most part, it uses traditional special effects. A lot of these Japanese grindhouse movies over the last few years have relied heavily on CGI and, while I get that some CGI is required to produce images that would be otherwise difficult, I would like them to return to the visual style of this movie. They have some CGI sure, but only in scenes where it would be nearly impossible without it.

Tokyo Gore Police has enough blood and guts to satisfy –any- gore hound (the last killing montage is just insane), and also has a good mix of story and comedy. Of all the Toyo Shock Films, it’s probably one of my favourites. Check it out if you think you have the stomach.