Review: Chanbara Beauty (2008)

The tagline for this one is “Blades, Bikinis, and a Fistful of Zombies”, and I can tell you that these guys believe in truth in advertising. True, there’s only one bikini, worn rather fetchingly under a poncho and hat à la Clint Eastwood, although the bikini-wearer doesn’t have the grimy toughness of Clint, and I have no intention of imagining Clint in a bikini.

There are also only two blades – one wielded by Bikini Girl, and one wielded by her evil younger sister in a schoolgirl outfit (this is Japan, after all). But there’s certainly a fistful of zombies: zombies are crawling out of the woodwork wherever you look, and lurching around in classical zombie fashion.

Again, it’s a simple plot, involving Bikini Girl hunting her evil sister who’s working for the mad scientist who’s creating all the zombies, aided by The Faithful Sidekick and a Motorcycle Chick they pick up along the way. Each of the three has a tragedy to recount, which they do during various pauses in the zombie slaughter.

And again, as with Alien Vs Ninja, the budget looks fairly tight – zombies don’t cost much more than some greasepaint, after all, and the locations were all out in the boonies.

But somehow, this one was a lot more fun. Perhaps because the characters had a bit more (any?) depth. Perhaps because there was some attempt at a plot. Or perhaps just because they took it all less seriously.

There was one thing that riled me, however: the high heels. I’m fine with the bikini. I’m fine with the schoolgirl costume. I’m even fine with a girl with less muscle tone than a bowl of jelly trying to look as though she’s wielding a sword. But the heels were out of place and totally impractical: seeing two combatants teetering their way across a field and trying to look dangerous made it fall very flat indeed. And it’s not even as though high heels are necessary in Japanese films – schoolgirl outfits do very nicely without them in most films.

But overall, it’s an entertaining little zombie flick on a shoestring budget, so if you like zombie flicks give this one a go.

6 exploding zombies out of 10.
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