Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Risa Kudo, Takeshi Yamamoto, Keisuke, Mai Minami
Directed Ken’ichi Fujiwara
As I understand it, Zombie Hunter Rika is actually the third installment in a series following the exploits of Japanese schoolgirls battling zombies and ghouls and what not. I reviewed the second film, Attack Girls Swim Team versus the Undead (review here), an unapologetic piece of trash filmmaking that could have used a good dose of shame for being so bad at being trash. Part of me finds it hard to believe that Zombie Hunter Rika is a follow-up to that film given how less sleazy and more lighthearted the film is, as much a stab at silly comedy as it is an Asian zombie splatter flick.
Modern Japanese zombie flicks tend to boast cheap budgets, extreme gore, gonzo comedy, illogical plotting, and are sometimes peppered with an unsettling degree of sleaziness in regards to the treatment of women. You get most of that here, too. Although those looking for an abundance of naked Japanese schoolgirl flesh won’t get nearly as much as they’d like, and while the action and gore effects deliver what you’d expect, some viewers accustomed to truly over-the-top Japanese zombie mayhem might be underwhelmed.
Zombie Hunter Rika makes for a middle-of-the-road entry in the anything-goes world of Japanese zombie cinema. Compared to how aggressively unhinged movies in this subgenre tend to be, this offering could almost be described as quaint. I’m not sure “quaint” is a term that will entice viewers of such films, but I was amused. Only mildly so, though.
Japanese schoolgirl Rika and her best friend skip school to visit the grandfather Rika hasn’t seen in two years, unaware that the tiny town he lives in is overrun with zombies. She and her best friend navigate the zombie-plagued town until they get to her grandfather’s house. Rika nearly gets her arm bitten off during a zombie attack, and her grandfather decides to amputate it and sews on a new one that instantly makes her an unstoppable zombie slaying badass. Did I mention her grandfather is the world’s greatest surgeon and an old crazy samurai?
To reveal any more would be giving too much away and require me to fully understand everything I just watched. Blood sprays. Boobs flash. Fake limbs go flying. Rika’s conniving step-grandmother also enters the mix to stir up further trouble for our heroine. Three Japanese stooges do their nyuck-nyuck-nyuck thing, proving they may be more braindead than the zombies. Zombie Hunter Rika is all over the map and you’re never entirely sure even the filmmakers knew where they were going with it.
The climax is not an all-out zombie slashing killing spree but a mano-a-monster showdown with a rubber-suited boss zombie that looks like a creature Kamen Rider should be clashing with. I wish that boss zombie had played a bigger role because he’s far more amusing than the familiar living dead antics.
The humor… Not to say there weren’t moments that amused me, but the Japanese style of humor is an acquired taste I don’t think I’ll ever fully acquire. If you could combine Jerry Lewis, the Three Stooges, and Lloyd Kaufman into a single human entity, the Japanese would probably worship him like a living god.
2 1/2 out of 5
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