A mad scientest experiments on bringing the dead back to life, before long the planet is over run with zombies. A band of misfit survivors, bent on killing all the zombies and trying to save anyone worth saving, decides they are going to stop the madman. Once and for all.
It seems that Japan is really turning out the zombie movies these days, which is odd since for the longest time the zombie sub-genre was one they would rarely touch. We've been given titles such as "Tokyo Zombie", "Zombie Self-Defense Force", and "Girl's Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers" just to name a few. Now one of the more recent titles to come our way is "Chanbara Beauty", not only an oddity for being a zombie flick, but a movie based on a long running game series in Japan to boot. Going by the trend of successful movies-based-on-games, it may spell doom for this movie before it is even given a chance.
Thankfully I didn't know anything about the fact that "Chanbara Beauty" was based on a game, (Not like it would have stopped me from watching the movie anyways.) but I figured it was worth checking out simply because it's a movie about a chick in a bikini, killing zombies. Kinda hard to pass up a movie with a premise like that. Well okay, there is more to the movie than that, but a sword wielding, bikini wearing, cowgirl, zombie killing machine, is obviously the selling point. The fact that the movie is about a mad scientist bringing back the dead through experiments, while trying to create super-beings is really only there to fill in the gaps. We are given some exposition on our characters as well, but the movie doesn't dwell on these plot points too much. As I'm sure the director, Yohei Fukuda, realized that most people are going to see this movie for the zombie action, not the character drama. Thankfully though Fukuda, does give us enough story and character depth that it keeps the movie from being a completely mindless action flick.
Now with the action itself, I really can't say if Fukuda took a page from Uwe Boll's book of directing game adaptations, by making the action similar to the game play or if this was a decision on his own. By that I mean, all of the action in the movie is over the top and very similar to what would be found in the game (I'm assuming anyways) and in Japanese anime. Our female lead, Aya, is so good with a sword she can deflect bullets. So quick, that the human eye cannot keep up with her movements, only catch glimpses of her as she slices and dices zombies. Then lets not forget the power ups, that make her and her sword glow and allows her to kill any large number of enemies with a single strike of her sword. Of course we can't make things too easy for her so this movie might leave a bad taste in zombie fans mouths. As the zombies in here not only movie fast, but can and do use various weapons, and know a bit of martial arts. If that wasn't enough with the zombie battles going down, the movie breaks the 4th wall by regularly splashing the camera lens with blood.
To say this movie is over the top, would not begin to describe the action and the mayhem contained in this 80 minute epic. Though the movie is over the top with not only its action, but the drama as well, that it brings the movie into the cheesy/campy territory. Which would probably explain why Fukuda made the movie the way he did. Naturally there was going to be a cheese factor when your movie revolves around a bikini-clad character. So instead of trying to fight the forces of nature and make it a serious movie, he took the movie in a direction of intentionally being over the top and it really played in the movie's favor. You just cannot take any part of this movie seriously, all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
It's hard to consider "Chanbara Beauty" a horror movie when it is much more in the vein of an action flick with some horror elements mixed in as it never tries to be scary. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but for my own personal taste I would have loved to have seen a more straight horror flick than anything else since the zombies in here are very well done. Though that's not what the movie is about, but it does do a good job of offering the audience something different. I mean, why should vampires and werewolves get to be the only ones to have balls-out action movies? As long as you're willing to allow yourself to be entertained for an hour and half of over the top action, you'll enjoy "Chanbara Beauty". While I didn't care for it too much myself, I certainly did have more fun watching it than I did with "Zombie Self-Defense Force" or "Girl's Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers".