Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gaming the System

Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad
Dir. Yohei Fukuda


Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a katana-wielding Japanese chick dressed in a bikini, feather boa and cowboy hat; Pinky Tuscadero’s slutty Asian twin; and a fat, bumbling bit of so-called comic relief go trekking through the zompocalyptic wasteland in search of revenge for the most clichéd of reasons. The multifarious problems with Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad, adapted from the hack and slash video games of the same name, are painfully apparent 15 minutes in when a promising zombie-slashing sequence grinds to a halt for a solid five minutes of uninterrupted, shoe-horned exposition. After that you know the whole plot and how this will inevitably end. The next hour is just shuffling lethargically toward the inevitable confrontation with the madman behind the zombie outbreak, his murderous minion and a horde of undead brain-munchers sporting identical hooded ponchos. Along the way, all of the trials are telegraphed well in advance and dealt with so perfunctorily that not even the cast has any investment in this flick. Because of that, none of the ham-fisted attempts to strike a dramatic, emotional beat ever ring true.

Zombology: Some time in the near future Sugita, a madman researcher at the D3 Corp. (producers of the game in an Easter egg) has figured out how to revive the dead. Predictably, the dead turn into virus-spreading shambling corpses. Undeterred by a world slowly depopulated by his creations, Sugita keeps working on his formula, needing only the blood of the heroine's family line (why? who knows?). While that all seems to comport with the Romero Rules, St. George would probably look askance at bullet proof kung fu zombies.

Though Onechanbara continues Japan’s tradition of women in swimwear facing off with the living dead, it is, put simply, not a good movie. It doesn’t even work as an 85 minute commercial for a game that debuted on the PS2 seven years ago. In fact, Onechanbara highlights the difference between gaming and watching movies. The lack of coherent plot and appreciable characterization (at one point we’re told the titular bikini-clad samurai can no longer emote after the death of her father) can be glossed over when you’re button mashing your way through a horde of pixilated zombies. In a movie, it’s just piss-poor filmmaking and a tedious waste of time. For proving Uwe Boll hasn’t cornered the market on half-assed video game adaptations, Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad sucks its way to a 71 percent on the Hell of the Living Dead scale.

No comments:

Post a Comment