Monday, November 12, 2007

Tokyo Zombie 東京ゾンビ (Japan 2005)

It's been far too long since my last review, and for those that give a crap, I do apologize. Formalities aside, I've returned with a review for Tokyo Zombie (東京ゾンビ), the craziest, and possibly one of the most disappointing zombie movies I've seen in a long time.

The citizens of Tokyo have really given up on caring about the overall cleanliness of their environment, and as such, have begun dumping everything (and I do mean everything) you can think of into a gigantic pile in the center of town. The pile begins to become so massive that it takes on a similar shape and appearance to that of Fuji-san, or Mt. Fuji, which leads citizens to refer to this massive heap as Black Fuji. Two slacker garage workers, Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) and Mitsuo (Sho Aikawa), really seem to have nothing to do all day except practice Jujitsu. Mitsuo, severely balding and the more "skilled" of the two, is always training Fujio on the arts of Jujitsu. When their boss shows up to check up them, he isn't happy with what he sees and an altercation breaks out amongst the three men which results in the boss being beaten to death. So where can our boys take the body? Black Fuji! Where else!? Remember, I did say everything gets dumped there. For reasons unbeknownst to the viewer, or maybe it's just plain unnecessary to tell us, the zombies begin to rise from Black Fuji and take our heroes off-guard after returning to the garage. After a slightly amusing display of Jujitsu skill, Fujio and Mitsuo are officially on the run from the zombie threat. Mitsuo explains to Fujio that all great warriors and martial-artists train in Russia, so that's where they need to go if Fujio plans to be a master of the arts. On their long drive north, they run into a young woman by the name of Yoko (Erika Okuda), who is under attack by the zombies after trying to clean out a convenience store. After their convenience store run doesn't quite work out as planned, Mitsuo takes the protesting Yoko with them. The boys reach a point where they can longer travel together, so Fujio and Yoko are left to fend for themselves and that's where everything changes. Why couldn't Mitsuo continue traveling with Fujio and Yoko? And will Fujio ever make it to Russia to complete his training?

I really had to stop my description of the movie at that point, because the minute Mitsuo decides to leave Fujio and Yoko, is the same time the movie decides to bash me over the face with the "out of nowhere" plot change. Don't get me wrong, I understand that this is a dark-comedy zombie movie, and nothing that happens in it is supposed to be "realistic" or meant to be taken even remotely serious, but the third act ruined the entire film. I will say that things get even more wacky and post-apocalyptic, but not in a good way. It seriously just takes everything you saw in the first three-quarters of the movie and does something completely different. Which is really a shame, because I was on board with the style that Tokyo Zombie had going for it. The biggest offense is the fact that this is above-all, a buddy movie with Fujio and Mitsuo needing to be together to make everything else seem interesting, and once Mitsuo leaves the picture, it's no longer interesting to watch. I'm sure it's a ploy from director/screenwriter Sakichi Sato to drive home the dark zombie future isn't all fun and games, but to make everything about the movie seem like "fun and games", only to flip a 180 is a move that takes away from the enjoyment of the film as a whole.

I'm a huge fan of zombie movies (minus that Dawn of the Dead remake and House of the Dead), and I'll watch them whether they are on the comedic side or the horror side. That being said, I really wanted to like Tokyo Zombie if for nothing more than it's original take on the genre. It almost succeeded in being an interesting, funny, and original zombie movie, but the keyword here is almost, making it a major disappointment no matter how you slice it. (Lee)

Buy Tokyo Zombie (Normal Edition) (Japan Version) on DVD from YESASIA!

*No English Subtitles

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