Onechanbara: The Movie (2008, Yôhei Fukuda)

Onechanbara features a five minute swordfight between a girl wearing a cowboy hat and a furry bikini, and another girl wearing a Japanese school uniform. The fight also features teleportation, flying and unexplained CGI explosions of coloured light. Elsewhere in the movie, there are zombies. Lots and lots of zombies.

I'll wait whilst you go and order it. Don't mind me.

Right. You're back? Well, then. I guess it's time for the bad news. There are stretches of Onechanbara that don't really work, where characters sit around on industrial wasteground and talk about their families. But, back to the good news; these sequences invariably end with a zombie attack, and more bikini-orientated swordfighting.

Onechanbara is based on a series of computer games of the same name; I haven't played them, but a quick glance around at reviews suggests that it's a case of great concept, bad execution. I imagine that, wasteland family-discussions aside, one of those games on demo mode would probably give you a good indication as to what it feels like watching Onechanbara: The Movie (aka Chanbara Beauty in some territories). You get what you pay for, and in this case what you're paying for is to watch a girl in a furry bikini kill lots of zombies with a sword. There's an over-reliance on CGI sparks and spurts, which is actually a bit frustrating because when the movie gets down and dirty and uses actual practical effects (half a prop head here, a jet of actual tangible fake blood there) it works an awful lot better. If this had been made in the days pre-CGI and been forced to go fully practical, it might have been a 5 star experience.

As it is, you'll have known from my first sentence whether you're up for it or not. Personally, I'm in for the sequel.


EDIT: I realised after posting this mini-review that I'd completely forgotten to consider plot, and instead just focused on bikinis, schoolgirl outfits and armies of zombies dying by cold steel.

As luck would have it, the exact same could be said of the filmmakers. The plot is such a tiny element of the whole experience that to mention it would almost seem like pointless nitpicking.


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