Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chanbara Beauty (Yohei Fukuda, 2008)

Yohei Fukuda's Chanbara Beauty aka OneChanbara (2008).

What did I expect? I guess that ever since watching Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus (2000), I've been waiting for the next low-budget, stylish, gory action film that will actually be good. Kitamura himself hasn't managed to top it yet and it doesn't seem like anyone else will either, at least not anytime soon. The closest I've seen to the spirit of Versus is Yudai Yamaguchi's Battlefield Baseball (2003), even though it's a comedy and not really an action film, and the Media Blasters production Death Trance (2005), directed by Yuji Shimomura, the action director on Versus. Chanbara Beauty, however, doesn't even come close.

Based on a video game, the story is kind of thin. A scientist (Taro Suwa) is experimenting on corpses to resurrect them but, of course, they turn into zombies. To succeed he needs the blood from a pair of sisters who's from a special bloodline, one of which he has already captured. The older sister is wandering a futuristic Japan ridden with living dead, killing every zombie that she meets while looking for her abducted sister. It's not much, but it should be enough for an entertaining zombie slashing film.

Unfortunately, the fight scenes are so fast that a lot of times it is hard to see what is going on, there's just a bunch of CG blood flying around the screen. For some reason (unless there's a problem with the dvd that I watched) they have decided to not use sound effects for parts of the action and it makes it feel disconnected and even harder to enjoy. Or maybe I'm just not getting it.

To me, the action scenes is the biggest flaw in the film. If it doesn't deliver the action, what point is there to it? Other than that, I don't have much to say. Complaining about the story or the acting in a film like this seems kind of redundant, it's point is the action and that is where it fails. Not even Taro Suwa, talking about the meaning of life and being God, while pulling gory bits out of a severed head can save this one.


leigh~ said...

I feel as if people had such high hopes for Kitamura but he's failed to disappoint again and again.


Executive Koala said...

I think Versus is so great because of all of the talents involved, Kitamura not being the biggest one. The best thing he's made after Versus is Azumi, and that doesn't say much :\

I thought that maybe filmmakers were past trying to make the next Versus now, but the sword fight in the end of Chanbara Beauty had the spinning 360-camera, acid blood and the same fighting in the air sequence that Versus had. It's almost too much to just be an homage, it smells rip-off.