Mania Grade: NA
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- Rated: R
- Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Shô Aikawa, Erika Okuda
- Written By: Yûsaku Hanakuma (manga "Tôkyô zonbi"), Sakichi Satô (screenplay)
- Directed By: Sakichi Satô
- Genre: Zombie
- Run Time: 103 Minutes
31 Days of Horror Movies: Tokyo Zombie
By Robert T. Trate
October 30, 2013
© IMJ Entertainment
Tokyo Zombie. Yes, Tokyo Zombie. This is the film all you horror aficionados out there in Mania’s realm have to watch this Haloween. I am still in awe and bewilderment of its plot, characters, special effects and crazy nuances. From the writer and stars of Ichi the Killer and Gozu (2003) comes a buddy tale in the same vein of Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Dumb and Dumber (1994). Mitsuo (Sho Aikawa) and Fujio (Tadanobu Asano) both work mindlessly in a fire extinguisher plant. One day while Mitsuo is instructing Fujio on the finer points of Jujitsu they accidentally kill their cruel boss. Not wanting to get in trouble they take him to the gigantic waste dump known as the Black Fuji. The burial of their boss sets up the tone for the entire film. This city sized, sky piercing (there is snow on top) trash dump is the place where everyone gets rid of the unwanted things in their life. However, it is mostly a place where people dispose of the dead and the living. Mitsuo and Fujio, in a very Laurel and Hardy type sequence, dispose of the body, enact some revenge and inadvertently run over someone else. While this is happening they are totally oblivious to the fact that the dead are rising.
Imagine Harry and Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber trapped in Night of the Living Dead (1968) and you’ll understand the first half of this movie. They forget their keys, don’t bother to grab guns and stock up on all the wrong things as they head to towards Russia (where all men become real men). The world is crashing down around them and when it can’t get any worse Mitsuo takes the time to tell his friend that he is dying. His goal has been to make Fujio reach his potential. This short and touching scene, yes touching, takes place in the form of a poem after they realize they have been heading in the wrong direction.
There is of course some unnecessary exposition as to why all this is happening. It might be the only flaw in the entire film. A reason for the dead rising is always asked in the genre but the truth of the matter is it isn’t important. We are given some brief exposition but it quickly falls to the wayside.
The plot then takes an interesting twist. Five years pass in a brilliant animated sequence that reveals Tokyo, as the world knows it, falls and only the rich now survive. Director and writer Sakichi Satô spins his two heroes into a bizarre version of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) where Fujio has become a zombie cage fighter and a master of Jujitsu. All the inner workings of this crazy society are revealed as well as our heroes’ fates.
Without a doubt Tokyo Zombie was one of the oddest films that I have ever watched. It took itself completely seriously. It never mugged for the camera or revealed that the characters themselves were in on how ridiculous the film was. In the genre of horror comedies it takes its place next to Shaun of the Dead. On the horror side it is closer to Army of Darkness (1992). The production quality is top notch and it is Ben Hurr (1959) compared to such genre films like Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001).
Don’t take my word for it. Tokyo Zombie must been seen to believed. More often than not you will be in complete and utter bewilderment by the entire film. The zombie genre is always in flux and most of the time it is packed with mindless gore and explosions. It is a nice change of pace when a zombie film can play towards comedy and work. Tokyo Zombie is a great Halloween film and a true gem in the Mania genre.