Thursday, September 24, 2009

In short: Zombie Hunter Rika (2008)

Initially, Japanese schoolgirl Rika (idol Risa Kudo, who is not one of those members of her guild with any acting ability) and her best friend Nami skip school to visit Rika's grandfather and get some important life advice. When they arrive in the small town where the genius surgeon ("Just like Black Jack!", we are informed) and swordmaster lives, they stumble into the beginning of a localized zombie outbreak - "zombies" is how you call camembert-faced people with movement disabilities, right?

The Japanese government is at fault this time. An experimental euthanasia drug to get rid of all those pesky old people has turned out to have some problematic side effects.

Worse for Rika, grandpa is utterly senile and his gold digger wife is trying to poison him to finally be able to spend his riches with her low-life boyfriend. The first larger zombie attack ends with Rika getting bitten. Fortunately, grandpa has still enough brain juice left to amputate his granddaughters bitten arm, well, to hack it off with a sword to be precise, and stitch on a new one.

Rika's new member is the arm of a dead American zombie hunter (don't ask) in a sort of package deal together with his magic sword, which will come in handy.

The local exposition machine, made corporeal by the zombified but intelligent scientist Takahashi (only genuine with his self-built muzzle to stop him from spontaneously eating people), explains that all problems will be solved and all the undead people will become alive again if just someone kills the zombie boss Grorian. So our obligatory motley bunch of survivors (Rika, Gramps, Nami, Takahashi, an otaku, a sushi cook and hippie/drop-out type - a representative cut of Japan's population) proceeds to stumble through the woods in the traditional manner until it is time for the final fight.

Yes, this is definitely one of those films, consciously silly, full of loving but moronic references to Japanese pop culture clichés and only peopled by the worst possible stereotypes. There are bad (but mostly physical, yay) special effects, terrible acting, but also maid zombies, a rubber arm, a zombie who has stolen Godzilla's breath weapon, sword-swinging schoolgirls and zombies.

Zombie Hunter Rika was produced for the DVD market and has the obvious non-budget that comes with the territory, but its director Kenichi Fujiwara tries a bit harder than many others in his part of the business and gives the film a little more drive, sometimes even a sense of silly enthusiasm, although there still are some dull moments. However, if one is inclined to, (and I always am) one can find a lot of love for the less savory parts of pop culture and moronic entertainment in general in the film, which seems to me to be a perfect fit for a film that is definitely situated in the less savory parts of pop culture and generally quite moronic entertainment.

As I said, acting and special effects are bad, yet they are also exceedingly enthusiastically done, and a little enthusiasm goes a long way in the realm of the bad zombie movie, even if it might be misguided.

Compared to something like Onechanbara, this is genius-level entertainment, measured with a slightly more strict standard, it is a fun little film if you don't expect it to be The Machine Girl.


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