Oneechanbara (Chanbara Beauty): The Movie

Title: Oneechanbara (Chanbara Beauty): The Movie
Rating: 2/5
Genre: Action, Horror
Language: Japanese

The best way of summing this film is perhaps ‘Bloodrayne meets Resident Evil.’ The story follows a young female assassin who spends most of her time in her underwear, wielding her trusty (and inexplicably magical) sword, hunting her sister for killing her father. Joined by a trusty overweight sidekick, who desires to see the man responsible for kidnapping his daughter and creating the zombies dead (guess the ‘twist’ there), and before too long, another, even more attractive but better dressed shotgun wielding woman (again, magical shotgun that can be fired over a dozen times in rapid succession without reloading). Now, like the films I likened this too, it is based upon a game of the same name. My expectations were not perhaps high, but if it delivered a hot woman chopping off plenty of zombie heads I’d be happy. Or so I thought.

I’m usually pretty good at suspending realism for the sake of stylised fight sequences, but I have my limit. And this film went well beyond it. From teleportation, using your sword to create tornadoes and some sort of ‘elemental fireball,’ the ability to fly/float and create small explosions by hitting your sword against the ground, these were too difficult to overlook. The blinding flashes of light every time that sword swings, and the amount of sparks that flew every time that thing hit something metallic I could perhaps forgive, for whilst ridiculous it fits with the style he intended to create, but it seems as though the director wanted to cram as many ‘cool looking’ effects into one film, without so much as a single line of dialogue explaining it.

Then there’s my issue with the zombies themselves, for whilst the make up was adequate the direction wasn’t. For the most part they would walk around aimlessly groaning in classic George Romero style, but the second they see you they would suddenly stand bolt upright, pick up the nearest weapon and turn into some sort of undead ninja. Now call me pedantic, but that seems like a mighty big continuity error right there, and that’s not mentioning the inexplicable ‘turning to dust’ when they die.

The plot was thin and predictable (you can guess most of the ‘key events’ within the first 20 mins) but certainly didn’t need any more detail. Simplicity works a treat in such situations, and the brief back-story for the characters was intriguing to know, and explains the motivation for their actions. The times where a more emotional response was attempted fell flat, partly due to the acting and partly down to the fact emotional, heart-felt responses in such a ridiculously over-the-top film is damn near impossible.

Despite that, it wasn’t all bad. The dramatic elements were concise, and the action came fairly frequently. The choreography for the most part wasn’t bad, mainly ruined by those few inexplicable oddities, and they weren’t shy of CGI blood. The women – as mentioned – are pretty attractive and the lead role does have a rather cute looking bikini. Furthermore, the fat sidekick (wielding what looks like a butter knife) often stole the show with comical facial expressions, the look of glee when he fooled a zombie, or of horror as he is surprised and starts to scrabble for his weapon. This is perhaps worth a rental (or download) if you have 80 minutes to kill, but don’t go expecting anything particularly spectacular.

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