Monday, January 17, 2011

ZomBlog Review: "Junk"

Stars: Nobuyuki Asano, Shu Ehara, Tate Gouta, Yuji Kisamoto, Miwa, Natsuki Ozawa, Kaori Shimamura, Koutarou Tanaka, Deborah Joy Vinall
Writer: Atsushi Muroga
Dir: Atsushi Muroga
83 minutes

Sometimes, a low budget and ambition make a good film.
In the case of “Junk,” the love of the films it tips it hat to, a low budget, and attention to tiny details make for a film that should not work under other circumstances. The detailed selection of plot points, actors, and respectful execution of film references make it work particularly well.
The film begins with a handful of jewelry-heisters meeting up with well-armed yakuza — yakuza that could have been labeled as the low-rent “Reservoir Dogs.” After a botched money exchange, “Junk” launches the zombies on both the thieves and yakuza, and begins a cinematic win for this Japanese take on zombies.
I have watched “Junk” on many occasions prior to this blog. I have recommended the flick to many a pal, with the response always the same: “Why the hell would I watch a film called ‘Junk’?”
The film is ironically named, unless you own the Unearthed Films’ transfer DVD. While so many parts look pristine, there are others that look like they were taken from a worn-out VHS tape. The DVD version I own is labeled “UNCUT.” I only hope the terrible-looking scenes were due to archival elements to make the film “uncut” rather than a lazy transfer.
I digress…
“Junk” is really a Japanese homage to “Re-Animator,” “Return of the Living Dead,” and “Zombie.” The whole film takes place in a former nuclear/military facility. The yakuza and the thieves play a game of cat and mouse through the facility after a neon-green re-agent (an obvious nod to “Re-Animator) creates a super-zombie (the beautiful Miwa, who remains naked most of the film); then guts are torn out, sheet-and-rope-bound zombies rise, zombies lumber from one place in the facility to the next, and plenty of gory, humorous, yelling, and explosive moments ensue.

Romero Rules Followed: Since this is a film made prior to “Land of the Dead,” the “smart-zombie” rule does not apply. Therefore, it follows almost every Romero-rule.
Gore factor: Plenty of gore here, mostly excessive gun-fu related, but also zombie-carnage.
Zombies or Wannabees? Zombies
Classic, fine, or waste of time: Classic
Additional comments: The subplot involving a scientist and the “Queen Zombie” are melodramatic and serve no purpose, but are a weak attempt to actually give a “serious side” to this homage. The storyline helps to introduce English-speaking characters, but doesn’t do much to move the film along. I could have done without it. Overall though, “Junk” is a solid zombie-fest.


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