Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island (2009) [Blu-Ray + Dvd]
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Akira and his ragtag group of teenage friends enter a world of danger and action when they land on the shores of Higanjima, an uncharted island that’s overrun by vampires. After learning that his missing brother might be somewhere on the island, Akira leads his friends on a chilling adventure that takes them from Higanjima’s highest volcanic peaks into the subterranean chambers of the island’s ancient ruins. They’ll face entire villages of sword-wielding vampires while racing to stay a step ahead of winged she-beasts and giant gargoyles. Worst of all, the gang will encounter the deadly master of the island’s monsters: the pale, blood-sucking freak show known as Miyabi. If the devilishly cruel Miyabi gets his way, none of the young heroes will live to see Akira’s brother – or the mainland – ever again.
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The plot really is that simple. A group of friends opt to endanger their lives by going to an island littered with vampires to embark on a suicide mission to rescue some guy's brother. Waiting for them is the undead head-honcho, a pale-white monster with flowing Edgar Winter locks and a thirst for the red stuff. He's got an island full of vamps ready to roll out, and pretty much the entire movie documents this hapless band of heroes trying to survive.
How can a few Japanese young adults with no proper self-defense training possibly hope to defeat a horde of homicidal maniacs? Good question, and one that is attempted to be answered in one of the most laughable training montages I've seen in some time. Akira gets a quick lesson from an enclave of Vampire Island survivalists and, after a few quick edits and a chirpy theme song, he's slicing through falling leaves with his sword. This would be a bit easier to digest if Escape from Vampire Island didn't take itself so seriously.
But we'll go with it, because it allows for more vampire bloodletting, which is what the production traffics in. And, to be frank, it's the only thing that will get this movie a look from horror connoisseurs. Luckily, there's much vampire immolation, as the gore pops from kill to kill, culminating in a fun, if thoroughly hard-to-believe, encounter with a giant lizard monster.
That's all there is to Escape from Vampire Island: slashing, bleeding, some quasi-erotic necking, and a hefty dose of dodgy CGI. But, you know, that just might be enough.
The Blu-ray sports a slick 2.35:1/1080p transfer, awash in clarity, which allows the voluminous effects--both visual and practical--to pop. The two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks (English and Japanese) are both active, though you should always ignore the dubbed option when you can. Two extras: a lengthy making-of featurette, and a DVD copy.
-Full review at dvdverdict.com
I did see the movie though and was surprised that it was actually pretty decent.
I'm not gonna rave about it, but it held my attention through to the end and got me to search for the manga it was based on.
I read through the entire manga that was produced for Higanjima and, of course, the manga was better. but that was because there was more time to flesh out the characters.
Thinking back to the movie after reading through the series, I feel they did a decent job at filtering it down into a 1.xhr movie w/o taking away too much of what made the manga series what it was.
Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)