Onechanbara: Vortex

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“…and now, everything bad about a movie based on a video game.”

If the original film was a pleasant surprise, being shallow entertainment and mayhem of the most fluffy kind, the sequel is a real disappointment. It doesn’t help that it behaves entirely as if the first movie hadn’t happen at all. Different director, different cast, and the story here fails to acknowledge anything that happened previously, dead people being resurrected with no explanation. Not that some of this makes all that much difference – one Japanese actress swinging a sword in a fur-trimmed bikini and cowboy-hat, is much the same as another. But the story is laid out here with a horrific lack of clarity that makes it perhaps the most confusing zombie film of all time. Yeah: it takes a special kind of talent to screw up “Dead come back, hungry, so we have to kill them.” Instead of focusing on essentials, the movie lobs in a bunch of tedious guff about Himiko, a new threat, who is seeking to use the blood of Aya and her sister to… mumble something mumble. If they ever explained it clearly, by that stage, I’d lost interest.

However, far and away the film’s biggest single mis-step is the director’s total obsession with splashing digital blood on the lens. Once or twice, it can be cute, in a ‘breaking the fourth wall’ kinda way. But here, every slice leads to you having to peer through a red fog for a bit. It gets old after about five minutes, and after 10, you’re wishing desperately for a pair of digital windscreen-wipers. Rarely has a visual trick been so badly mis-applied, through monstrous over-use. The only thing keeping the movie going is the basic concept, but the film proves that, yes, even with a film about a bikini-clad zombie-slayer, it is possible to go badly wrong. Chris may have snorted during the original, but only once: for the pseudo-sequel, it felt like the living-room had been invaded by a herd of buffalo, and I am largely with the derision being expressed. If they ever make a third, I’m only interested if the original director, etc. come back.

Dir: Tsuyoshi Shoji
Star: Chika Arakawa, Kumi Imura, Rika Kawamura, Akari Ozawa

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