A lot of fans seem quite excited over the long-awaited North American release of Tokyo Zombie on DVD, and I can't say I blame them. I've seen some seriously wacky Japanese films in my day (and you don't really know what wacky is until you've seen the Japanese variety), but this over-the-top zombie comedy thoroughly revels in its zaniness. I have to say that some parts of the film didn't really click with me, but Tokyo Zombie's originality and sheer chutzpah go a long way toward minimizing whatever complaints I might have - and I'm sure many a fan will enjoy Tokyo Zombie more than I did, especially those familiar with the original manga by Yusaku Hanakuma (illustrated in the "so bad it's good" heta-uma style). Heck, just thinking back on it makes me realize I like this film even more than I thought I did as I was watching it. It does have a little bit of everything - zombies, black comedy, social commentary, class warfare, gore, sex (including a zombie BJ, which really isn't the way you want to go out), etc. - and it features cult film stars Tadanobu Asano (Ichi The Killer) and Sho Aikawa (Dead Or Alive) as the best buddies at the center of the weirdest zombie apocalypse I've encountered in quite some time. I might also mention that the film is directed by Sakicho Sato, the man who wrote the script for Ichi the Killer.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
One of the wackiest zombie comedy adventures of all timeFeb. 22 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
A lot of fans seem quite excited over the long-awaited North American release of Tokyo Zombie on DVD, and I can't say I blame them. I've seen some seriously wacky Japanese films in my day (and you don't really know what wacky is until you've seen the Japanese variety), but this over-the-top zombie comedy thoroughly revels in its zaniness. I have to say that some parts of the film didn't really click with me, but Tokyo Zombie's originality and sheer chutzpah go a long way toward minimizing whatever complaints I might have - and I'm sure many a fan will enjoy Tokyo Zombie more than I did, especially those familiar with the original manga by Yusaku Hanakuma (illustrated in the "so bad it's good" heta-uma style). Heck, just thinking back on it makes me realize I like this film even more than I thought I did as I was watching it. It does have a little bit of everything - zombies, black comedy, social commentary, class warfare, gore, sex (including a zombie BJ, which really isn't the way you want to go out), etc. - and it features cult film stars Tadanobu Asano (Ichi the Killer (Unrated Edition)) and Sho Aikawa (Dead or Alive (Unrated Director's Cut)) as the best buddies at the center of the weirdest zombie apocalypse I've encountered in quite some time. I might also mention that the film is directed by Sakicho Sato, the man who wrote the script for Ichi the Killer.
Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) and Mitsuo (Sho Aikawa) - or, for the sake of convenience, Afro and Baldy - are two blue collar workers at a fire extinguisher plant who spend most of their time practicing jiujitsu (which involves far too much rolling around on the ground together, if you ask me). Their mean boss doesn't appreciate their dreams of becoming fighters, which leads to his accidental death. The two friends decide to bury him on Mount Fuji, a huge trash dump that has grown up in the middle of Tokyo (and a popular place for disposing of future mothers-in-law and other folks you want to get rid of). Unfortunately, the place is so full of dead bodies and dangerous contaminants that some sort of chemical reaction begins reanimating the dead in the form of shambling zombies. So the rest of the film must be your basic survivors trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, right? Au contraire, my friend.
The two friends are separated before they can follow through with their "real men go to Russia" plan, at which point the story leaps five years into the future. Tokyo is now a three-class society, as the rich and elite who managed to survive the zombie apocalypse have enslaved their fellow survivors and like to pit the strongest of them against zombie opponents for their own amusement. Fujio has become one of the human champions, even though his commitment to jiujitsu makes him a "boring" fighter that the crowds love to hate (although the fight promoter is overly fond of him). Don't let the film's abrupt transition mid-way through get you down, though, as the zany comedy continues in full force all the way through the film's sequel-begging conclusion. I hesitate to say any more than that about the plot.
I don't think there's much middle ground to be had here, as most viewers will either love or hate this film. Many Western viewers will undoubtedly watch this film expecting to see a typical zombie bloodbath, and some will be disappointed because that isn't what this movie is about. Yes, there's a limited amount of gore, but it's far from realistic. Those who can't adapt to what they are seeing and embrace the story as an exceedingly weird and far-reaching comedy may feel cheated. That being the case, I certainly wouldn't recommend this film to anyone unfamiliar with Asian cinema. The more familiar you are with Asian - especially Japanese - horror in all of its amazing and oftentimes brilliantly original guises, the easier it will be for you to recognize and embrace the dark, wacky genius of Tokyo Zombie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Silly fun.March 16 2010
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Tokyo Zombie (Sakichi Sato, 2005)
Put Tadanobu Asano (Mongol) and Sho Aikawa (Ley Lines) in a movie based on a manga. Get Sakichi Sato, writer of some of Takashi Miike's most beloved movies (Ichi the Killer, Gozu) to direct. Throw in a very hot rising star, Erika Okuda (who has since scorched the screen in films like Topless), as the female lead. How can you go wrong? Well, you can, but if you take Tokyo Zombie for what it is, it's an amusing little ride.
Asano and Aikawa play Fujio and Mitsuo, a pair of slackers who work as garbagemen in a near-future Tokyo where the garbage problem has so gotten out of hand that the center of town is now a huge landfill known as Black Mt. Fuji. Black Mt. Fuji is a haven for those working outside the law, including the Yakuza (who use it as a body dump) and toxic waste dumpers, as well as job security for wastrels like Mitsuo, who'd rather spend all his time teaching Fujio jiu-jitsu, and Fujio, who'd rather spend all his time napping. Life goes on as usual until the toxic waste and the bodies get together, and everyone who's buried in Black Mt. Fuji starts rising from the dead. They infect others, and within a couple of months, zombies have taken over all of Tokyo save a few complexes where humans still live. The focus of the second half of the film is life in one of those complexes, where Fujio is now employed in the zombie pens, using the jiu-jitsu Mitsuo taught him to entertain the rich by fighting zombies in a makeshift arena.
When you read manga, which is episodic by nature, it's sometimes possible to see where the author got off track, and then decided to take the tangent and make it into an entire storyline. The film adaptation of Tokyo Zombie is the first time I've seen that tendency faithfully translated to the screen; the first and second halves of this movie could have been a Part 1 and Part 2, had each been long enough. In the manner of film-and-sequel, they're tangentially related by a few characters and the setting, but otherwise, they're different movies entirely. The disconnect between them is bridged by a long voiceover that gets kind of annoying after the first minute or so (it could have probably been replaced with a simple "fast-forward five years..."). The action itself is episodic as expected, but more, there's nothing really new here; the screenplay borrows heavily from a number of other zombie (or kinda-zombie) pictures of very recent vintage (this came out not long after 28 Days Later... and Land of the Dead, both of which are strongly referenced), and that does leave a sour taste in the mouth sometimes. Still, Asano and Aikawa are both actors who are capable of turning in strong performances no matter how bad the material they're working with, and they do so here. Okuda is gorgeous and shrewish, and Isao Ishii's cinematography has an appealing grubbiness to it, even before zombies take over the world. It's slapstick, and silly, but kind of appealing every now and then. ***
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3 ½ - Stars: The Power of Jiu-Jitsu versus Zombies?!April 8 2009
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Zombies have contributed to film enjoyment almost as much as vampires and werewolves--witches and monsters in the horror genre. Hell, they've even a good run in comedic satirical misadventures in "Shaun of the Dead" and "Fido", even Thailand had a go at it with "Bangkok Zombie Crisis" and Japan`s own "Wild Zero". Heck, I guess it is Japan's turn once again to create another zombie comedic spoof. "TOKYO ZOMBIE" is based on the manga by "U-saku Hanakuma" and has been remade and directed for the screen by cult director Sakichi Sato. Yes, the film is another "ssooo bad, that it is good" entry in the annals of Japanese cinema.
"Black Fuji" is a man-made mound that is located in the outskirts of Tokyo; it is full of junk, trash, poisons, and even dead bodies. (much like "smokey mountain" in the Philippines) In a fire extinguisher plant, Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) and his mentor, Mecchan (Sho Aikawa) practices the moves of jiu-jitsu to entertain themselves and to attain "spiritual fulfillment" and they are unaware of the dangerous occurrences nearby--Tokyo is being overrun by zombies due to the mixing of poisons and human flesh in "Black Fuji". The two are on the run and they run across an ill-mannered young woman called Youko (Erika Okuda). This leads to tragedy, and we fast-forward 5 years in the future. Because of Tokyo being overrun, the rich have established themselves as the ruling party of the Japan with the poor as their slaves. They use them to generate electricity and to provide them food. The poor has a chance to be accepted in this elite class though, women can become prostitutes and physically capable men can compete in a ring against zombies to provide entertainment for the wealthy. Fujio's jiu-jitsu skills is being put to good use, that is until he has to fight a "super-zombie".
Granted, this movie isn't going to win any awards with its mild violence, dumbed down visual effects and humor that feels a little geared towards those used to Asian humor. The film's first half focuses on Fujio and Macchan's relationship, their petty squabbles, and rude behavior. The film also has a bit of eco-disaster commentary as to how we manage our planet, our wastes and our trash. I thought the manner of which human life is taken fore granted and murder seems pretty routine in this world created by the director says a lot of today's current events. The film has a dark tone in its humor as we see citizens burying folks they've killed (luscious Maria Takagi makes a cameo) and even hints of child abuse were fairly visible to the viewer. Count on the Japanese to blend in a powerful social commentary in a horror-comedy.
The second half of the film is heralded by an animated short that at first gives us the hint of a change of pace, but it was just the vanguard for the film's next act about social status. I guess director Sato thought it best to add certain hints of George Romero's "Land of the Dead" (the high-rise building), "Fight Club" (zombie fights) and even "the Running Man"(hunger for entertainment) in its narrative. The rich takes full advantage of the unfortunate as they use their slaves to produce "grip electricity" (I don't know its logic), and to provide entertainment. Fujio is a man using the means he only knows (his fists) to provide for Yoko (the woman they encountered in the 1st act) and a small child named Fumiyo (Hina Matsuoka). Yoko is a little abusive (but good-looking) and wants Fujio to entertain the pig-like women in the audience so they can have a decent apartment in the high-rise structure of the rich. Fujio just wants to pay tribute to his mentor, Macchan for teaching him the art of Jiu-Jitsu. I suppose a clash between principle and immediate need is being reflected upon by Sato in the sequences.
The chemistry between Asano and Aikawa is truly the film's major selling point--they characters are eccentric and bizarre--complete with an afro hair-do and a bald head that looks like a dick. Their humorous exchanges do provide for good entertainment. Aikawa's character Macchan is the type of person who is easily fooled by his own perceptions. Hey, the film does have some complex sequences of jiu-jitsu and I was pleasantly surprised in the way they were shot. The film's cinematography has that "whatever" feel, director Sato does have a talent for visual flair; from the mild CGI, animated short, and deadpan finesse. But I was a little confused whether it wanted to be comical since it has a strong dark tone, or it wanted to be horrific, the blood and gore is pretty toned down--the shameless prattling just kills its attempts at a horror comedy. (How come they used the word `retard' too much?)
Anyway, such narrow-mindedness forms a little disconnection to its audience. The film does think it is being ironic and in a funny way, it is. It's just that it is too silly to be taken seriously and too serious to be laughed at. I guess it's all part of its B-movie charisma that may be a little lost to me. The story may feel a little goofy but Sato and his leads do provide a good entertaining diversion. I do have to admit that I had a kick watching "Tokyo Zombie" but I have to say that it is NOT the type of film for everybody. A lot of folks just won't `get' the movie and it's not really anybody's fault. Sato and company knew what they wanted to do--play the movie for Japanese film fans and the heck with anyone who doesn't like it. For better or for worst, the film sidesteps almost all expectations.
Recommended with caution, Rent it first! [3 ½ - Stars]
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HEY LOOK! IT'S THE GUY WE RAN OVER.Sept. 10 2013
THE MOVIE GUY
- Published on Amazon.com
Mitsuo (Shô Aikawa) and Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) are two friends who work near Black Mountain Fuji. It is at this mountain people bury toxic waste, trash, and corpses of people they have killed. Our pair start out like dumb and dumber. About half way through the film, it shifts gears into Thunderdome where Mad Max is played by one of the stooges and fights zombies in the arena.
The film is meant to be a comedy, there is no horror in spite of the zombies. It does have some slow scenes. The movie can be watched in English or Japanese with subtitles. The extras have only subtitles.
Interesting cult film.
Parental Guide: F-bomb. Male rear nudity. No sex, suggested near oral sex.
Worth being in your zombie collectionJune 10 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
TOKYO ZOMBIE is a good film for a zombie collection, but not such a great one for a general collection. Obviously, it's geared towards the zombie fans, but it is geared quite tightly in that direction, and it loses a little bit in this loss of accessibility.
The back claims it the "japanese Shaun of the Dead" which isn't so, since it's humor is not so in-your-face or continuous as that film. The humor comes more in the form of subtle absurdity the whole way through. Granted, it's a funny, tongue-in-cheek movie, but don't expect comedy that will have you roaring all the way through. It's clever and outrageous for sure, but it's more of a rollercoaster between the more subtle and the more outrageous rather than a continous good blend.
There's enough absurdity overall though to lock it into place in my b-movie zombie collection. There's thought put into this movie, a reckless kind of thought, but it's not just a complete rehash of anything. Though comparisons and parody are quite clear throughout the film, it keeps itself original, especially with the twist that our protaganist is an aspiring jujitsu master, which means of course that we have jujitsu being performed on zombies.
The story is a little disjointed, cutting the film in two parts with an animated segue in between, but it's much less disjointed than a lot of asian film I've seen, and you'll never be lost or confused to any of it. There's even a few good twists and a masterful ending tying it all together.
TOKYO zombie is a great original absurd zombie film. The humor's a little off at some point, the story a bit jumpy, but it's great and I'm glad I picked this film up.