Thursday, 10 September 2015
Wild Zero (1999)
"Japanese Punk Rock Zombie Crying Game."
That's pretty much the elevator pitch for this film. And for a small group of people - me included - it's probably all you need to know for you to want to see the movie. For others it's probably an instant un-sell. The vast majority of people though are probably going to fall somewhere in the middle, and for them, we need to answer the question "Is it any good?"
Short answer: Not really.
Longer answer: Where the film mostly fails is in the zombie elements. Firstly because their make-up is basically "paint people grey", and secondly because these are the most ineffectual, listless flesh-eaters I've ever seen. There can be about fifty of them attacking a guy with a crowbar for ten minutes, and he still gets out without being bitten. Or scenes where living characters are standing in a street while zombies shuffle past in the background. There's also a painfully unfunny 'comedy' sub-plot involving squabbling lovers that continues even after they're both dead.
The other plot-lines of the film: a violent disagreement between a nightclub owner and the band Guitar Wolf (who are basically the Japanese Ramones), and the romance between more-or-less main character Ace and Tobio (who is a transwoman) are better done. Unfortunately, although they appear like major elements of the film in the opening twenty minutes or so, both these threads are relegated to being C or D plots for most of the film's run time, in favour of interminable zombie inaction.
There are some moments of genuine wacky fun in this film, and I can get behind the (explicitly stated) message that "Love has no borders, nationalities, or genders" ... but overall I wish the moments and message were in a film that succeeds better as an end to end piece of entertainment.