Wild Zero (2000)

I don't often react vocally to films, but certain scenes in this insane, incredible movie had me laughing out loud, and emitting the odd yelp of delight ... not a pretty sight. This is one of my favorite recent movies, no doubt about it. It's certainly a breath of fresh air in the tired flesh-eating zombie genre, but there's so many other genres squeezed in there, it's hard to process it all! I want to see more of these recent Japanese movies I'm hearing about. Now that Hong Kong cinema has die in the proverbial backside, we need this material to be made! Maybe if I give a plot summary we can make a start ...

We're in Japan. Spaceships are swarming above Earth and zooming down. On the ground, Ace, a wannabe young rocker, goes to see his favorite band, Guitar wolf and his friends, play. Guitar Wolf and co. are a sort of garage metal/punk band, sort of like Japanese Ramones. Well, not really, but I'm struggling to find examples, guys! Guitar Wolf even has flames shooting from his microphone. But the band, once backstage, are having trouble with their venue manager, "The Captain". This guy has to be seen to be believed. He wears super-short hot pants, has a girly-bob haircut and a goatee. And he's evil! These Japanese are full on, I tells ya.

Ace, wanting to meet the band, visits them backstage and walks into the middle of a gunfight. He distracts the Captain and allows Guitar Wolf to get the upper hand. In gratitute, Guitar Wolf makes him a blood-brother (ouch) and gives him a whistle to blow, if he's ever in any trouble. Guitar Wolf takes off on his fire-powered motorbike, his two friends close behind in their car. Rock and Roll! (Guitar Wolf yells this a lot). Ace takes off on his cycle, also.

Ace rides into the middle of a robbery, and again saves the day from a bumbling young robber, and his two equally bumbling friends. There he meets Tobio, a pretty young thing from China and they instantly fall in love. We see loveheart-frames in front of their heads to show this development. Awww... but earlier, Tobio had been booted out of a car as the guy had yelled "Pervert!" at her. What gives? Oh well, we'll forget that for now. Just for now.

The Captain wants revenge and takes off after Guitar Wolf, with his bald-headed goon. Two Yakuza drive along a highway but are held-up by a group of strange, staggering people massing on the road. Remember the z-word I mentioned earlier? Yeehaa, we got a zombie movie on our hands! I love 'em! The two Yakuza are quickly overwhelmed and eaten. Yes, we got gore scenes here ... Heaven! The three bumbling would-be criminals also run into the zombies and lose one of their number.

Soon Ace and Tobio encounter the ghouls, and try to escape. These zombies are the real thing, too. They slowly stagger, look battered and bloody and blue (some even worse) and hey, they're cannibals. The extras really looked like they were enjoying themselves. We also meet a female arms dealer who drives an armoured truck, and knows how to blow off zombies heads in one shot. These zombie-skulls must be under high pressure or something ... Great bloody CGI, folks! She's the one the Yakuza were driving to, to do an arms deal.

Ace and Tobio, struggling to survive the Zombies, profess their love, but as they attempt to make love, Tobio's secret is revealed. I'll let that plot-point slip, so you can see it for yourself, but it ain't no Crying Game! Ace, distraught, runs from Tobio in horror, and takes his fury out on the zombies. It's a great scene. Sad, romantic music plays in the background, as he takes a furious crowbar to some zombie heads. We're talkin' Peter Jackson territory here! Soon Ace has a vision of Guitar Wolf telling him that "Nationality and gender are no boundaries to love!". Ace realizes it's true, and sets off to find the abandoned Tobio. He blows his "wolf-whistle" and the band hears him and start making their way to his rescue.

Guitar Wolf and his pals promptly take out a horde of zombies with electrified guitar picks. But now the Captain has caught up to them, interrogating the zombified bumbling criminal. (There's so many plot threads going on, I have to miss a few!) Soon Wolf and the Captain clash, but the bumbling zombie had earlier bitten the Captain, and after having received a dose of Wolf's electricity, the Captain is now a super-zombie who emits ray-beams from his eyes and can shatter buildings. Worse, the flying saucers have started swarming the skies. Whew!

Wolf's band-mates turn up and blow up the Captain. Wolf reveals a giant sword in his guitar and promtly cuts the Giant mother-ship in half, which explodes and all the zombies die again, finally finding peace. Ace and Tobio are reunited and Ace knows he will be with her forever.

Ye Gods, what a movie. I'm exhausted just trying to write a plot summary. I'm not going to say much more. I'll just say, this is major fun, folks. The music is to die for, if you like punkish thrash rock. And it's all through it ... this must be one of the greatest soundtracks ever. The zombies are superb. The acting hits the right level of comic intensity and I just love the way the whole thing was put together. Some scenes are beautifully filmed, such as when Ace goes to town on the zombies with his trusty crowbar. I gather it's gaining a cult following, and it deserves to. There's so many quotes to be quoted, scenes to be savoured. Zombies, guns, gore, spaceships, romance and rock and roll ... what more could you want?

Read my drooling, decayed lips ... re-com-mended.

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© Boris Lugosi 2002.



Review written: 05/20/2002 19:21:31