Friday, May 15, 2009

Tokyo Zombie

While I'm not a big fan of zombie flicks, sometimes one comes along that has just the right balance of innovation and humor to make it pop (Dead Alive, Shawn of the Dead, The Signal, Slither). In this regard, Tokyo Zombie fits the bill. For one thing, it's based on a manga (a somewhat primitivist effort by Yusaku Hanakuma). Manga movies are always culty and outrageous and I can't get enough of them (Lady Snowblood, Oldboy, Female Prisoner Scorpion, The Story of Ricky, Lone Wolf & Cub, Ichi the Killer, The Razor, etc. etc.).

Then you've got two Japanese cult cinema stalwarts, Miike's go-to guy Sho Aikawa and everybody's favorite spaced-out, too-cool-for-school dude Tadanobu Asano. They're a pair of lamebrain laborers at a toxic Tokyo dump known as Black Fuji. Seems the blend of industrial and consumer waste products has begun to spawn zombies, and before long the city has morphed into a post-apocalyptic nightmare society in which the elite class has enslaved what's left of the non-zombie population and entertain themselves with neo-gladiatorial battles between the slaves and the zombies. Then things start to get weird ...

For a low-budget film, Tokyo Zombie delivers, thanks largely to a low-key, deadpan vibe that both contrasts and enhances the bizarre doings in Tokyo town. It's also the first film of it's genre to advocate the use of jiujitsu as the primary defense against zombies. Check it out, Sid.

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