Osaka Punch is more than just some play on words, (Sucker/Sucka Punch) but a series of articles covering obscure cult films from that land of the rising sun. From buried treasures to guilty pleasures, I got you covered! Now some of films, you may be familiar with while others, will have you screaming- “What the Fuck is this Shit?!?”
So sit back, checkout the reviews and perhaps if you’re curious enough you just might give it a watch.
Here’s our first contender!
“In this corner, weighing at 120 lbs (that’s if you include the combat gear with sub-machine gun.) Battle Girl!”
Battle Girl: The Living Dead in Tokyo Bay (1991)
Directed by: Kazou ‘Gaira’ Komizu
Written by: Hitoshi Matsuyama
A meteor crashes into Tokyo Bay, leading to a strange cloud of “Cosmo-Amphetamines” being emitted and covering the city, thus turning many of its inhabitants into flesh eating zombies. To make things worse, survivalist gangs now roam the city, and the military isn’t exactly doing much to help the situation. However, there’s only one person who can save the day, and it’s a girl named Keiko (Played by Japanese Female Wrestler Cutie Suzuki, of Joshi), who dons a hi-tech body armor suit equipped with a Micro Uzi and the ability to give her superhuman powers.
Oh, I forgot to mention how she sports a pair of black visors for no apparent reason. In the process of rescuing her father, she finds herself being hunted by a group of advanced killers and discovers some dark government secrets. The film, for the most part, managed to skip the fates of Tokyo Bay’s inhabitants with the noted exception of a wasted scene in which a survivor and his wife Kyoto get ambushed by a pack of thieves who not only run off with their food, but Kyoto as well. Minutes later, you see the survivor grieving over Kyoto’s body (presuming that she was raped and murdered by the savage thieves) and “miraculously” she awakens only to bite a chunk out of her now dear departed Hubby. (Well, K-ko did try to warn the poor Bastard.)
The fight choreography is laughable at best and at worst, especially when it’s ill-timed and comes off too much like a schoolyard play fight.
Note: it’s very sad when you have a wrestler who does not make good use of her wrestling skills. As for the less than impressive practical effects, well it’s bad even for 90s standards. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen more convincing tricks from the Avco Embassy era and that was during the 1980’s folks!!! You know the production values are bad when you can see a squib from an actor’s left backside.
There is a decent amount of action-oriented cinematography. a few shining examples are; K-ko attack and interrogation of one of the Captain’s soldiers, her racing toward the camera and most noteworthy, the corridor shootout that is reminiscent of one of John Carpenter’s earlier films (with a tinge of Cameron’s Terminator thrown in for good measure.)
Speaking of whom, Battle Girl would’ve been a more suitable Sci-Fi horror actioner than John Carpenter’s previous effort, Ghosts of Mars. Another dumb scene goes to the main antagonist captain giving a long winded speech about Japanese nationalism only to then inject himself with some Cosmo-amphetamine which will make him much stronger?!?
Yes, all this while “Battle Girl” just stares at him like some stoned-ass teenager as opposed to attempting some kind of intervention. It didn’t really matter since this was the “Final Confrontation”.
The finale was abrupt and very anti-cathartic and as a matter of fact, there was room left for a potential sequel which by now didn’t happen and I for one, am glad it didn’t come to fruition. What started out as an idea with fun concepts thanks to its Mashup roots: Escape from NY, Dawn of the Dead, Angel Cop and Night of the Comet, Battle Girl unfortunately fails to live up to its expectations.
This could have easily been a fun cult B-Movie classic had it not been for it’s lack of ambition, poor dialog, bland pacing, lackluster fight scenes and 70s era special effects. I declare Battle Girl, a very slow count.
(Recommended in its place: Ryûhei Kitamura’s Versus )
“And across the ring, weighing in 125 pounds (With leather jacket and boots)- Kyyyyyyoko”!!
Directed by: Atsushi Moruga
Written by: Atsushi Moruga, J.B. Baker, Youko Kuzuki, & Emiko Terao
What happens when you make a film that is part Reservoir Dogs and the remaining parts- SEGA’S House of the Dead, Re-Animator and Zombie? Well suffice to say, director Atsushi Moruga’s result is a movie called JUNK. Some may find the title appropriate because of its cheesy dialogue, mediocre direction and spaghetti sauce- gore effects however there is still fun to be had just as long as you check your brain at the door.
Junk is a pretty by-the-numbers affair that can be enjoyed by most fans of the genre, and despite seeing most of what Junk has to offer, Moruga effectively pulls it off.
The film’s prologue begins in an abandoned Okinawa factory, where the U.S. Army, working together with a team of Japanese scientists, has developed a glowing green serum (can you say- Re-Animator?) known as DNX, and if you don’t know what the purpose of this serum this far into the Zombie-thon, you should be ashamed of yourself. As always, things go sour almost immediately when the serum is injected into the naked corpse of Kyoko, who promptly thanks the doctors for her newfound lease on life by murdering them.
Man, besides their obvious faults, zombies sure are ungrateful.
Meanwhile, a ragtag gang of thieves has just pulled off a successful jewelry store heist, and has arranged to sell their ill-gained goods to a local Yakuza boss-Ramon who of course, intends on killing them after receiving the merchandise cause after all, he’s Yakuza. Unfortunately for everyone involved, their planned meeting spot just happens to be that same factory where the DNX was manufactured.
Call it a stroke of luck or an advantageous opportunity for the thieves thanks to the sudden appearance of flesh-eating zombies interrupts the Yakuza’s plan to double-cross them, although it’s a small consolation: before long two of the more likable thieves, the sly Akira and the striking getaway driver Saki, are fighting it out with both the gun-toting gangster and the bloodthirsty ghouls. (either way, they are royally fucked!)
But they won’t be alone in their zombie-fighting nightmare – in response to the problems at the factory the army has contacted Dr. Takashi Nikada. It appears that Nikada is one of the originators of DNX, but has since left the project behind. Oh, and he also happens to be the former flame of the deceased Kyoko- abut get this, the good doc has no idea that his dearly departed Kyoko was used as the DNX test subject. The army convinces a hesitant Nikada that he must help cover up the chaos caused by DNX, and, despite his constant claims that he is a simple doctor and not a military man, he is soon storming into the factory in full commando mode, on a mission to set-off the buildings self-destruct setting (or, as it is known in the world of Junk, the “Auto Exploder” function). Before long, Nikada, Akira, Saki, and the remaining Yakuza are together in the zombie-filled factory, and, as the film’s simplistic tagline says: “Everybody fights”. Yes, it’s uninspired but it gets right to the point.
While there are those who would concur with JUNK lacking originality or coming off a bit uninspired, I somewhat beg to differ because the film apes certain scenarios from the aforementioned films that it pays a deal of homage to. I can obviously say that Director Moruga is also a huge fan of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie after watching this scene that was lifted from the legendary Italian gore fest and in comparison you can tell that it’s very paint-by-the numbers when the protagonists run afoul to a group of Zombies feasting on some corpse. However, it’s not as scary and as a matter of fact, I found it to be intentionally comical especially when you see the robbers backing away from the feasting dead only to run into more Zombies!
We’re talking “Scooby Doo” vibe here!
With a running length of only 83 minutes, nearly all of it action, Junk for the most part delivers and it should keep most zombie enthusiasts entertained throughout its duration.
It is by no means a very original film – nearly everything here has a “been that done that” vibe but it’s entertaining nonetheless. There’s without a doubt some truly atrocious acting – particularly from the American actors in the army roles and not to mention how I found myself perturbed by the Nikada’s ”engrish” and would have preferred that he spoke his native language if not have some American voice actor provide an English dub. What’s also silly is when we learn that Kyoko is actually some sort of Queen Zombie, complete with distinguishing powers such as super strength and agility; and later on for some reason, the ability to instantly turn her hair snow white.
Plus, Kyoko has fashion sense! I’m talking about a woman who spends the first half of the film stark-naked but eventually dons a more combat-appropriate leather outfit! (WUT?) Nikada and Saki’s battle against the nigh-unstoppable Kyoko is Junk‘s one moment that doesn’t feel plagiarized from other films, and is not surprisingly the most purely enjoyable sequence of the entire film.) The beautiful actress Miwa is up there with Return of the Living Dead’s Linnea Quigley as one of the sexiest zombies you will ever run into. (Or run from, LOL) Given that, and the fact that she’s the most original constituent Junk has to offer, it’s a shame she didn’t have not more of a constant presence throughout the film.
JUNK is like Junk Food, you know you shouldn’t indulge, but it tastes okay.
I declare JUNK a “Technical Knockout”!
And the Winner is….JUNK!
In closing, if there’s one thing I would like to give that these two films credit for, is that they were perhaps the very first to feature female lead protagonists (K-ko and Saki.) within the Zombie Apocalypse genre and no doubt set the precedent for characters like Resident Evil’s Alice and so forth.