Japan has arrived at the pinnacle of what makes all modern societies great. It finally has zombies of its very own! It finally joins Haiti, the United-States, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and Britain into OZEC, the Organization of Zombie Exporting Countries. Let’s break out the champagne! Hooray!
Tokyo Zombie was directed by Sakichi Satô, whose past credits include screenplays for two Takashi Miike movies: The ultra violent Ichi The Killer and the ultra weird Gozu. It also stars Miike regulars Sho Aikawa and Tadanobu Asano as Mitsuo and Fujio; two employees at a Tokyo fire extinguisher factory who spend more time goofing off and practicing Jujitsu than working.
When their boss catches them sparring and flips out Fujio accidentally kills him. Well… as accidentally as you can kill someone when you bash a ten pound fire extinguisher over the back of their head. Luckily for them, in the middle of Tokyo is a gigantic mountain of garbage called Black Fuji where people throw can throw anything away with no witnesses and no questions asked. Containing everything from toxic waste to still twitching rape victims to old bloody washing machines to nagging mother-in-laws, what’s one more corpse to the mountain?
One too many it seems. Our intrepid duo has picked a really bad day for a clandestine body dump. It’s the day the dead start coming back to life.
What follows defies any description I could give it. The plot unleashes itself onto the viewer like a fireworks display, violently going in every direction at once; albeit with much of the story elements firmly based on established zombie lore. If you thought Shaun of The Dead was a not-too-subtle nod to Romero, wait until you see this movie. But don’t think you can expect what’s going to happen with my pitiable attempt at a synopsis. I haven’t even touched upon the running joke about child molestation or how one character announces he has cancer through song, or how the film features the world’s most laid back mugging, or how an entire post-apocalyptic society is powered by exercise hand grips connected to an electric generator.
Satô’s is like a Japanese Kevin Smith. The direction doesn’t really stand out, but his screenplay is wickedly inventive and has great pacing. He’s written an irreverent send-up of the genre that never quite becomes a parody even though it has a scene with an alcoholic firing a s**t cannon at old ladies. Yes, you read that right. (…and yes it’s playing again on July 12th at Fantasia just in case you were wondering.) Satô’s also gets awesome comedic performances out of Aikawa and Asano, letting them play against each other like a violent, homoerotic Laurel and Hardy.
Tokyo Zombie isn’t the best zombie film I’ve seen, but it makes up to us with sheer exuberance and energy. From one minute to the next you don’t know what you’re going to see and that’s the greatest experience in the world when you’re watching a movie.