Tokyo Zombie
Director: Sakichi Sat˘
Writer: Yűsaku Hanakuma
Screenplay: Sakichi Sat˘
Producers: Yuusaku Toyoshima, Haruo Umekawa
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Sho Aikawa, Erika Okuda, Arata Furuta, Hina Matsuoka
Country: Japan
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 103 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     Despite my thrist for any zombie film, a slightly bad taste was left in my mouth after an ingesting of Tokyo Zombie. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but it's definitely a rip-off of Shaun of the Dead and pretty much any "serious" zombie flick, but most notably Romero's "Land of the Dead."

      Two unshakable friends spend their days honing their skills in ju-jitsu constantly while at work at a fire extinguisher warehouse. After they accidentally kill their boss, they bring his corpse to a towering man-made mountain of refuse on the outskirts of Tokyo. Everything from human bodies to child porn is disposed of at this monument to human waste. So it is no surprise when some sort of chemical reaction takes place and bodies start to emerge from the earth to feast on human flesh. The duo seems fairly oblivious to what is going on and retreat back to their warehouse to continue practicing their martial arts. When it finally becomes apparent to the two what is going on, it is too late and Tokyo has been totally changed into a desolate wasteland, populated mainly by only zombies. They decide to road trip it into the heart of Tokyo where they meet other travellers and a huge thunderdome-esque zombie wrestling facility.

      The duo are sort of a Jay and Silent Bob or maybe an R2-D2/C-3PO archetype who would never do anything to hurt each other, but still constantly bicker and slap each other around in a slapstick kind of way. The characters are charismatic and well acted, but the schlock starts to wear off as the jokes and moments are not truly funny, just mildly amusing.

      Since the whole zombie infestation is never taken very seriously by the characters or film makers, so enters the obvious similarity to Shaun of the Dead; but with less comedy substituted for an attempt at an actual storyline of love and loyalty that is both uninteresting and predictable.

      The zombie wrestling matches are extruded straight out of Land of the Dead, where a carnival of undead are used as entertainment and a for bookies to continue to make a living. These wrestling scenes are long and boring. There are never enough zombies on screen at any one time to make me really feel creeped out of a sense of impending doom. So there goes the horror aspect of the movie.

      For me, the interest was really attached to the two lead characters who work well together and make the audience happy to be a part of their journey. But unfortunately they are split up halway through the movie and it is here, that most of fell off the band wagon.

      It comes down to the fact that the movie can never decide what it is. Is it comedy? Is it lame drama? Or is it an action thriller set in a zombie filled landscape? Sometimes a movie can intersect all of these aspects and make an enjoyable experience. Other times, as is the case with Tokyo Zombie, the entire mood of the films shifts on a dime several times and I found myself wanting to take a nap. Add to this the fact that I could see everything that was going to happen from a mile away.

      Other than some funny, slapstick moments, and maybe one or two laughable instances that take advantage of the usual zombie disadvantages and handicaps, the film completely lost my interest about halfway through. It had potential to be something really good, but submerged itself in a sticky, predictable, uninteresting mess of a storyline with new characters introduced that I had no possibility of liking or even caring about (besides the little girl - the most adorable little kid I've ever seen). True zombie fans will find little to appreciate; and unless you have a very easily amused sense of humor, you'll be scratching your head most of the time wishing you were doing something else. I feel bad saying all this as it really did have potential, and I'm ready to give this filmmaker a second chance at life.

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Links: - full cast and crew