When it comes to Japanese approach to zombies, many people can think towards video games such as "Resident Evil" (Biohazard) or even creepy monster like video games such as "Silent Hill". When it comes to the films, where Western films tend to want to feature more gore, humor but retain that creepiness and eeriness, sometimes that Japanese direction of zombie films tend to want to titillate the viewer.
With the release of "Attack Girls' Swim Team versus the Undead" (aka "Nihonbi 2'), the film utilized porno actresses and thus the film seemed very softcore despite being a zombie film. And not exactly scary or eery but more comic and sexual in nature. Now we have the followup titled "Zombie Hunter Rika: Unrated Limited Edition" (aka "Nihonbi 3') from Switchblade Pictures. This time, minus the porn stars and higher production, we get bikini model Risa Kudo as Zombie Hunter Rika.
The film revolves around a scientific program gone haywire. While the emergency sounds are blaring in the background, the main scientist seemed to have slept after having an erotic dream after looking at a porn magazine. When he wakes up, he finds out that his colleagues are now zombies and instead of running away, he looks at his comrades in the eye and ends up being bit by one and thus becoming a zombie.
We then see the exploits of a European wandering zombie hunter via a streaming video clip that a guy is watching on his computer. But somehow in this film, the main protagonist is defeated by a huge zombie monster which ends with the hero's arm being cutoff (and evidently, the hero is killed). We then see the monster take the cut off arm (which is still holding the sword) and throwing it towards the forest. It appears that this was not a fake movie but a real clip that had happened.
Enter Rika and her high school classmate and BFF Nami as they ride in the subway and talk about Rika's grandfather who is a skilled surgeon who moved away and Rika still missing him. The two suddenly have an idea to run away and visit her grandfather Ryuhei at his summerhouse. We then see the grandfather who seems to be an invalid and just sits down with hardly any movement. A woman named Sayaka is seen taking care of him and happy that her brother is to be coming to visit.
While at this village, we see Rika and her friend at the village and come face to face with a zombie. The town seems to be filled with zombies and now Rika and Nami try to run away and encounter some gangster guy named Tomoya. The three are then chased by zombies and end up escaping together and go to the summer home where Rika's grandfather is at. Meanwhile at the village in which zombies are growing and growing, three guys (who are like the comedy support of the film) try to find a way to escape the village.
The three managed to make it to the village and we learn that Sayaka is the wife of Rika's grandfather and Tomoya is her brother (fake). Sayaka explains to her that her grandfather has Alzheimer's and Dementia but in truth, it was a plot by Sayaka and her boyfriend Tomoya to get money from Rika's grandfather and plans to kill him off in order to get the insurance money.
But not all is good at the summer home of Rika's grandfather as the zombies have made their way into the residence and all of a sudden we learn that Rika's grandfather is well and pretending he was sick. While everyone tries to fight off the zombies, Rika is bitten in the arm. For Rika's grandfather, being the master surgeon that he is, knowing that a zombies bite can turn a person to a zombie, the only way to save her is to chop off her arm and replace her arm with... the original zombie hunter's arm.
Also, arriving to the residence is the original scientist who was responsible in everyone turning to a zombie. Supposedly, despite now being a zombie, he has resisted his zombie urges and wants to help Rika and everyone.
Now, everyone tries to fight off the zombies and find the one major zombie monster (the one who killed the original zombie killer) and supposedly, if they kill him...everyone will return back to normal. Meanwhile, American forces are set to drop a nuclear bomb on the zombie infested village. Can Rika and friends defeat the zombie monster in time?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Zombie Hunter Rika" is presented in 16:9 and for the most part, similar to "Attack Girls' Swim Team Versus the Undead", you can tell the video is shot digitally. But the main difference between both films is that there is higher production value with this film compared to the other. This time, there are a lot of zombies and you see them walking through the cities of a village. More zombies visually eating human body parts but most of all, more scene locations and shots in various areas. Where the last film was confined to a school, we see the talent in the film in a variety of locations.
As for audio, audio is still in Japan 2.0 stereo. So, front channel driven but I preferred to have my receiver set with stereo on all channels but for the most part, the film is dialogue driven.
Subtitles are in English.
"Zombie Hunter Rika: Unrated Limited Edition" comes with only trailers.
When it comes to Japanese zombie films, I suppose it depends on the viewer what they want to see more. More sex or more gore? If there was one thing that "Zombie Hunter Rika" needed, was better and higher production and for the most part, you do get that. Personally, I felt "Zombie Hunter Rika" was much better than "Attack Girls' Swim Team versus the Undead" because there is actually a plot and there are more scene locations and more zombies.
Granted, this film is nowhere near the production value of a Hollywood zombie film but still, there is a good amount of humor, sex and of course gore to make "Zombie Hunter Rika" enjoyable in some ways. For those who are familiar with the anime or manga series "Blackjack" (a story about a doctor who has the ability to save anyone, even through bizarre surgery), it's interesting to see that character in Grandpa Ryuhei and the fact that he also happens to be a kick butt samurai.
But of course seeing the original zombie hunter arm on Rika looks pretty much fake, the film does have its share of disgusting moments and as for the sex scenes, unlike "Attack Girls' Swim Team versus the Undead" which utilized porn stars to make the sex scenes much more realistic (although not much is shown), the most you will get in this film are three maids who want to show off who has the biggest breasts and one of the supporting characters topless. The film relies less on sex and more on fighting or getting eaten by zombies.
So, overall "Zombie Hunter Rika" still manages to be laughable and humorous in some parts but you also get a good amount of gore (again, I emphasize that this film is not that scary at all but some parts are a bit creepy) and maintains that Japanese zombie humor as well. Definitely not a dark and twisted film but much better in execution and higher budget in production but less sex than the previous film.
If you are a fan of Japanese zombie films, then definitely give "Zombie Hunter Rika" a chance.