Fantasia : Tokyo Zombie and A Bittersweet Life

Another day, another double-feature. I believe I have seen the best Fantasia had to offer this year. Let's see if the rest of the festival proves me wrong.

The night started off with Tokyo Zombie (Tokyo Zonbi), actually, it started off with God's Left Hand, Devil's Right Hand, which was inadvertently played instead of Tokyo Zombie for several minutes until the rioting mob gave notice to the staff by chanting "ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE! ZOMBIE!". There was then a scare, that perhaps the film wasn't even here and wouldn't be shown. It was finally shown, but in HD-DVD format instead of 35mm, so it was in a relatively smaller format than it should have. Oh well, it's the content that matters, and boy that was some content. References to Shaun of the Dead will be unavoidable, and understandable. However the movies differ quite a lot. Aside from the premise (two loser-friends face off against a horde of Zombies), the rest is quite different. Tokyo Zombie is surrealist, and the sense of humor is very Japanese and very slapstick. In this film, the horde is birthed on Mt. Black Fuji, a giant, black mountain-like landfill located in central Tokyo. This landfill is unregulated, and when I say unregulated, I mean it. People bring in all sorts of garbage, from still-working appliances to hazardous chemicals to annoying stepmothers, still kicking and screaming as they're being buried. The result? The souls of the appliances, combined with the hatred of the people buried alive and the hazardous chemicals, spawn zombies (of course). That's all the plot I'll spoil for you, suffice it to say that it's laugh-out-loud from beginning to end. The first half may be a bit funnier than the second half, but there are still awesome moments in the later half. The gore is, for a zombie movie, very low, but that's not what this movie is about. You'll recognize Tadanobu Asano from Survive Style 5+ (and many other movies). He's hilarious, and his partner, played by Sho Aikawa, is equally wacky. Don't let the word slapstick turn you off, the movie is still pretty sharp and has quite a few twists and turns that makes it a must-see for any zombie fan or comedy fan. 8.8 out of 10, with a butt-factor of 0.2.

Moving on to A Bittersweet Life, who will get a much shorter review. What is there to say? It's a mob film, it's about falling in love with the wrong person, it's about ego and pride. It's like most other mob films you've seen a hundred times before. Is it bad? No, it's not, it's very well made and well acted. It's artsy and stylish. The tone reminded me of Boondock Saints, in which tragic and violent events are mixed up with comic relief in the form of rather dumb characters. To me it felt a bit like every otherAmerican Mafia/gang movie, except as it's not anAmericann film, predicting the end will be a bit tougher. 6 out of 10, with a butt-factor of 1.

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