Zombie Self-Defense Force (2006)

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Overall Rating 46%
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Ranked #7,019
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When a UFO crashes and releases radiation, the dead begin to rise in a cannibalistic frenzy. A group of soldiers and civilians make their way to a hotel and must fend off the zombie hordes. --TMDb
Kenji Arai
Kenji Arai
Norman England
Norman England
Masayuki Hase
Masayuki Hase
Y Machimura
Y Machimura
Review by Chad
Added: January 17, 2008
When it comes to movies, there are two things that I simply can't get enough of, and those two things just so happen to be Asian horror flicks and zombie gorefests. My reason for the former is simple: when they're not rehashing the same storylines over and over again, those Japanese directors know how to tell a damned fine story while providing some genuine shocks and scares. The latter is... well, who doesn't love a good zombie movie? I know that I personally can't get enough of them, so with all things considered, one would think that Zombie Self-Defense Force - an Asian zombie flick - would be right up my alley. Throw in some goofy comedy la Shaun of the Dead, pepper liberally with nods and winks to the classics, and you've got a sure-fire winner on your hands... right? Well, no.

We begin the film with a faceless Japanese guy criticizing the United States and George W. Bush in particular, and this seamlessly segues over to a remote forest in the heart of Japan where various people are going about their business. We've got pop star Hitomi (played by porn starlet Mihiro) doing a photo shoot with her various stylists and cameramen, we've got a Yakuza boss and his assistant knocking off and burying somebody, and yes, we've also got the Self-Defense Force carrying out a training mission. Hell, there's even a hotel owner on the outskirts of this forest who works his way into the storyline, and after all of these introductions are out of the way, we witness a UFO crash off in the distance. Naturally, this causes the dead to rise, the various groups of citizens find one another and band together to fight off the zombie threat, the Self-Defense Force - Yuri (played by pop star Miy Watase), Hayakawa (Jun Yamasaki), and Sakomizu (Shun Saeki) - kicks a whole lot of ass, and we have ourselves a feature film.

First, the good. There were some surprisingly good effects on display here, as I felt that both the zombie makeup and some of the gore sequences were damned nice. Now, there was some horrific CGI action taking place as well that has to rank up there with the worst I've ever seen - some of the CGI-created spurting blood looked like somebody simply drew it in with a crayon - but the practical effects definitely had their moments. When the dead rise at the Yakuza burial site, they all looked great and I dare any of you zombie lovers not to get a smile on your face.

There's also a ton of nods to the classics, and when I say "ton", I'm not exaggerating. Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Evil Dead, Kill Bill, Stacy, Ju-On: The Grudge, Braindead, and The Matrix are but a few of the movies that the filmmakers tipped their hats to during the running time of this film, and trust me when I say that that small list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full amount of these references. Some of these references are slick and had the horror geek in me cheering, but I have to admit that they really started to outlive their welcome as we witness reference after reference play out.

Now, the bad. For starters, the vast majority of the humor in here simply wasn't very funny, and when you've got characters saying and doing goofy things that fail to even crack a grin on the viewer's face, well... I think it goes without saying that that is not a good thing. Sure, the big revelation about what was inside that UFO (and the aftermath of said revelation) is pretty humorous and the bratty pop singer had her moments, but otherwise, just about all of the jokes in here fell flat. Maybe it's a cultural thing, who knows.

I also wasn't a huge fan of how the filmmakers attempted to blend so many genres together throughout the running time. We've got the obvious horror and comedy elements, but we also witness a relatively even mixture of action, science fiction, martial arts, samurai action, and traces of the supernatural horror genre as the minutes tick by. This might work in the hands of a better director, but here, we've just got a whole bunch of stuff that never really works. The horror isn't scary or horrific, the action isn't thrilling, the science fiction isn't intriguing, and as mentioned, the comedy isn't very funny. I kept waiting for them to really get something right, but sadly, I found myself looking at the credits before that moment came.

While not a completely horrible movie, Zombie Self-Defense Force is definitely a film that should only be viewed by the hardcore zombie enthusiasts, and even those fans probably won't get a whole lot out of it. I know that I didn't, and as much as I enjoy those undead bastards, that says more than just about anything else could hope to. 4/10.
Christopher #1: Christopher - added 01/18/2008, 08:43 PM
Easy ten, one of the better Japanese zombie films made during the 2000's.
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