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Japanese zombie killers - dress code: Minimal
on 3 October 2010
For some reason I've spent a bit of time watching zombie films of late, and while the likes of Evil Dead II (classic horror comedy) and 28 Days Later (modern fast zombies) are genuinely excellent films - most others are pretty lame. Chanbara Beauty sits comfortably in the seemingly popular 'scantily clad women - and zombies' sub-genre of horror movies which are ever popular these days. It's certainly not a cinematic classic, but it's not the worse zombie flick either.
There's little in the way of originality here but it would be unfair to say that the film doesn't make an effort. In places it looks impressive and for every bad fight scene there's a decent one, there's also a semi-compelling plot involving two sisters who eventually must fight each other. Chanbara Beauty is based on a series of video games and game-to-big-screen translations are rarely successful, but here the film manages to break free from its console origins and it works as a standalone film - as long as you don't expect too much.
Gore fans will appreciate the spatters of blood but won't see anything new other than a seemingly magic sword which glows when swung (surely a nod to the video-game heritage), and the zombie effects aren't very convincing with computer generated blood looking a bit too fake and the make-up appearing a tad amateur. If you look at this as a studio production it's a poor effort, but think of this as a piece of fan fuelled amateur work and you can't help but buy into it and enjoy it on some level. The basic premise is explained and is actually pretty plausable (compared to other zombie films) with the undead state being caused by a virus which was initially seen as a cure for, well ...death! It's not very scary though, and those wanting a viewing experience leaving them on the edge of their seats may feel a bit let down.
In a nutshell: This is a low budget Japanese film, and instead of exploring creative ways to maximise the budget as Sam Raimi did back in the early 'eighties, it relies on semi-impressive martial arts, dodgy CGI effects, and women wearing leather and fluffy bras. I was going to give this 2 stars but it doesn't compare too badly compared to other similar films (the dire Zombie Strippers an example!) and so I'll sick my neck out it give this 3.