“Because nothing says post-apocalyptic zombie killer like a maribou-trimmed bikini and a cowboy hat.”
The Japanese title Onechanbara [variously Oneechanbara], is a portmanteau word, combining “onee-chan”, which means “big sister”, and “chanbara”, the term for sword-fighting movies. But, since this aspect would be lost on a Western audience, who can blame US distributors Tokyo Shock for adding the helpful subtitle, “Zombie Bikini Squad”. Y’know, in case the sleeve left doubts in this area. It’s based on a very popular series of Japanese video games, which consists of the heroines, in a variety of costumes, slicing and dicing their way through an apparently endless line of the living dead. With admirable faithfulness to the source material, the movie also consists of the heroines, in a variety of costumes, slicing and dicing their way through an apparently endless line of the living dead.
There’s Aya (Otugoro), the stoic sword-wielding one seen on the poster, and Reiko (Hashimoto), the leather-clad one with the infinite-ammo shotgun. Along with fat sidekick Katsuji (Waki), they’re looking for Aya’s sister, Saki – and also Dr. Sugita (Suwa), the mad scientist responsible for the zombie outbreak which has swept the world, setting sister nibbling on brother, daughter on mother, etc. On the way to their goal, they meet other survivors, a zombie version of GoGo Yubari from Kill Bill, and several million gallons of digital blood, including a good chunk sprayed onto the camera lens. Now, I’ve never played the game at all, so can only assume everything makes perfect sense in that universe. Still, as adaptations go, this seems to capture the inherent spirit of mindless slaughter admirably, with Aya’s power-up the most devastating video-game weapon since the Defender smart bomb. I just dated myself horribly, didn’t I?
Anyway. Is it any good? Not by objective standards, no. But it is a hell of a lot of fun, soundly kicking the ass of the last two Resident Evil movies there. While the characterization is, of necessity, composed of broad strokes, that’s forgivable, and it touches all the necessary zombie bases e.g. a character who gets nibbled and has to be put down as a result. An escalating series of encounters helps provide copious action, and despite the clear CGI, this is well-staged and edited, with the actresses doing a more than credible job. Besides, Chris’s snort of disbelief when Aya threw off her cloak to reveal the fur-trimmed bikini was priceless.
Dir: Yohei Fukuda
Star: Eri Otoguro, Tomohiro Waki, Taro Suwa, Manami Hashimoto