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JAPANORAMA - Feast BANNER JAPAN-O-RAMA

Chanbara Beauty OneChanbara お姉チャンバラ Eri Otoguro, Manami Hashimoto, Tomohiro Waki, Chise Nakamura, Ai Hazuki, Hiroaki Kawatsure, Sari Kurauchi, Tomoya Nagai, Taro Suwa, Tetsu Watanabe, Satoshi Hakuzen

Chanbara Beauty (a.k.a. OneChanbara, Bikini Zombie Slayers, Bikini Samurai Squad, お姉チャンバラ): straight to DVD zombie-fest based on a hack-and-slash video game centered around action-girls. The four titles and heartbreakingly dubious synopsis say more about the film than any review could, but if you still want to find out if this is any good… It’s always refreshing seeing headstrong, empowered, female action leads unleashing industrial-sized cans of whoopass, grabbing here gender by the balls and proving to everyone that women in modern cinema are no longer… oh, wait… is she wearing a fluffy bikini? Never mind!! Rule one of making a live-action adaptation of any game/manga is instantly broken: don’t do it with shit CGI and no physical effects!!! Made in 2008, looks like something cheap from 1988. Stylistically, it’s topped off with a shitty grey-washed out filter – rendering the movie devoid of almost any colour. The action direction is confusing: too dark, too shaky – and the non-action scenes are long, frequent and boring filler / padding. To cut this review short, I can’t remember the last time that hacking up zombies last felt so boring and arduous. I doubt that even fanboys of the computer games (which I’ve never played) could find any redeeming features in this stinker.

Score: 1.5/10

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Yamada – Way of the Samurai: (AKA The Samurai of Ayothaya): A betrayed Japanese samurai is nursed back to health by Thai villagers, and by fusing the national fighting techniques, becomes a great warrior. This has the hallmarks of a co-production between the two countries; great because it brings together the best / most famous aspects of both cultures, but feels a little back-patting at times. It features some brutal Muay Thai boxing… very realistic, impressive and visceral: they’re real champion Thai boxers. The bigger action set pieces are well-edited, but the CGI swords, blood, and other effects look cheap. In typical Thai style there’s a ‘musical’ feel to the soundtrack and national style of acting – young girl and underplayed love interest are most guilty of hamming it up. Being based on a historical figure, the story’s a little clunky, but the locations, sets and costumes all look great, and are captured well by the director. Yamada may not have the most gripping/original story, or best/most famous cast in the world, but there’s more than enough gorgeous Scenery and brutal Thai fighting skill for the film to fall back on and keep you watching for the duration.

Score: 5/10