Zombie Self-Defense Force
They thought it would be a routine training mission for the Japanese Self Defense Force; instead it became a blood soaked battle for survival against the living dead! As the handful of survivors end up trapped inside the inevitable secluded hotel, the pat
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Zonbi Jieitai (aka Zombie Self-Defense Force) has a bang-up premise: how would something that suddenly turned people into zombies affect people going about their daily lives? Unfortunately, the execution doesn't quite live up to the premise, but it's not as bad as it could have been.
A spaceship crashes to Earth as the movie opens, but few people take notice. After all, they're going about their business. There's a model on a photo shoot in the woods, two inept yakuza attempting to kill a guy and dispose of the body, a poor hotel owner attempting to break up with his mistress in order to preserve his marriage. Then comes the spaceship, and the radiation from it (okay, I think it's the radiation, maybe, who knows?) turns dead folks into zombies. This leads to some amusing moments. (The hair stylist on the photo shoot alone is worth watching this movie for.) Eventually, though, we find ourselves in something that looks like a zombie movie; a bunch of folks from these situations and a couple of others end up holed up at the hotel trying to fend off a horde of hungry zombies.
This one's got a pretty low rating at IMDB, and to be honest, I have no idea why. If you're not a fan of zombie movies (and yes, zombie movies,especially of the low budget variety, have gotten really meta over the past couple of decades), I can understand maybe not getting some of the in-jokes or wondering why this movie's effects are really kind of crappy, but let's face it, if you're a zombie fan, you've seen a lot worse in the past couple of years. What really struck me about this one was the cleverness of the script, which really is kind of funny, even if it does cross the line into stereotype now and again (those two inept yakuza, as funny as they are, could be straight out of any dozen yakuza comedies from the past fifty years). Still, if you're used to American horror films, the almost default setting of Asian films of this stripe, which are much more aware of character development, atmosphere, and organic progression in the plot makes this stand head and shoulders above a lot of what's come out of America in the past decade or so. I really liked this one a great deal more than the average IMDB user, it seems, and definitely recommend it for zombie-movie fans. *** ½
Now we have "Zombie Self Defense Force" (aka "Zonbie Jietai") which was released back in 2006. So, how does it compare to the two previous Japanese zombie films?
The film kicks off with an anti-war message and how the United States gets involved in such matters and how Japan hangs on to the coattails of the USA. The film then shows a few things happening at a nearby village. A group of high school students on a field trip, two kids walking on the road, a teen pop idol having her photo shoot, a man and a woman inside a home, a group of yakuza working on a deal and soldiers of the Self Defense Force discovering a corpse of a woman that is hung up on a forest.
Next thing you know, a UFO starts floating in the air and everyone sees it flying around and then crashing down in the forest area. Next thing you know, the crash somehow triggers a green cloud of radiation throughout the village.
All of a sudden, a man that the yakuza killed comes back to life, as does the woman who was found dead and hanging on the tree. All dead people buried, start rising from the dead and then attacking people around the village and becoming zombies.
Immediately, one of the yakuza members, the teen pop idol and a few members of the Self Defense Force manage to make it alive and survive the first initial attacks from the zombies. The female soldier starts to have headaches and memories of some type of surgery.
They then go to the home where a man and a woman was seen. We learn that the man is a corporate employee who is having an affair with a woman who happens to be pregnant. He immediately wants to kill her (and hide the pregnancy from his wife) while the woman wants to blackmail him into dumping his wife and staying with her. As she jokes about it, she accidentally slips and falls on her head and ends up dying.
Meanwhile, the group who are running from the zombies spot the home and try to use that as a temporary headquarters and try to get outside help. That is until the dead pregnant woman comes back to life as a zombie, while her baby comes out of her body and we see a demon zombie baby now trying to attack the group and manages to take a bite of the young yakuza member and the man inside the home. With zombies now trying to get into the house from the outside, the group must now have to deal with their own inside the house who may now turn into zombies.
Will the survivors escape the home and the village or will the zombies overcome them? And what is the meaning to the headaches that the female soldier is experiencing?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Zombie Self Defense Force" is a film shot digitally and is presented in 16:9. For the most part, the film is low-budget with most of the shots taking place in a forest and a nice home. For the most part, the execution of violence is laughable with fake CG blood, aliens, cyborg parts and more.
In fact, there is one scene with a decapitation and of course, the head looks like a doll. But bare in mind, this is an earlier zombie film and compared to "Zombie Hunter Rika", there is much improvement within the Japanese zombie horror genre within the past two years after this film was released.
As for audio, audio is presented in Japanese 2.0. Film is front channel driven but I preferred to watch the film with stereo on all channels set on my receiver. Audio is clear and understandable but for the most part, for those who don't speak or understand Japanese can watch the film with English subtitles.
"Zombie Self Defense Force" comes with only trailers for upcoming films from Switchblade Pictures.
"Zombie Self Defense Force" is quite interesting. For the most part, the film although is a zombie horror film, actually behaves more like a comedy. Some of the characters and their actions are quite laughable, a lot of scenes are campy and hilarious and for the most part, it's really hard to get scared when there are too many comedic horror scenes.
This is not a film that will scare you, it's actually a film that makes you wonder how crazy and campy it can get? For example, when you start seeing this killer demon, zombie baby starting to attack. It's hard not to laugh... as you see this red ugly growling baby with its umbilical cord still attached, flying through the air and trying to take a chomp at any of the humans.
Also, to see the pop idol girl who is such a tease and such a dunce and trying to get her way with one of the soldiers while making the young yakuza member jealous. Such a funny sight and these are just among the few funny/campy moments from the film.
But how does this film compare to previous Japanese zombie films released from Switchblade Pictures? Well, for one..."Zombie Self Defense Force" does not contain any nudity. In fact, all you get are fan service pantie shots courtesy of the pop idol. As mentioned, the film is pretty much low budget-fare as it is only shot in a forest area, the roadside and a home. In terms of zombies, you see probably less than two dozen of them throughout the film and the horror segments are not at all scary at all.
But I have to admit, I enjoyed this film for its humor more than anything. I couldn't help but laugh. Where "Attack Girls' Swim Team Versus The Undead" seemed like a film that was focused on arousing the viewer than scaring them and "Zombie Hunter Rika" showcasing better scene locations and horror segments, "Zombie Self Defense Force" is pedestrian zombie horror and humor mixed in one.
If you're looking for a serious, scary zombie film... "Zombie Self Defense Force" is clearly not for you. But if you are looking for Japanese style humor and Japanese zombie low-budget indie film, then definitely give this film a chance.