Saturday, 3 May 2014

Wild Zero

Director: Tetsuro Takeuchi
Writers: Tetsuro Takeuchi, Satoshi Takaki
Producers: Tetsuro Takeuchi, Kaichie Furata
Cast: Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf, Masashi Endo
Year of release: 1999
Country: Japan
Reviewed from: advance UK DVD (Artsmagic)

This is mighty crazy rock’n’roll zombie jet movie super ace, yes? Yes, very much so indeed OK!

Wild Zero has no pretensions. It is not great art, not great cinema, it is simply unadulterated fun, filled with zombies, guns, motorbikes and constant cries of “Lock’n’loll!” It’s bonkers and it’s brilliant.

Guitar Wolf are a (real) three-piece Japanese band who play Ramones-esque punk rock. The three members are called Guitar Wolf (who rides a souped-up motorbike), Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf (who follow him in a car). All three are deeply cool - all quiffs and leather jackets - though there is a wonderfully understated subtext in this film that Bass and Drum both think Guitar is faintly embarrassing.

Anyway, we kick off with an enormous fleet of golden flying saucers heading for Earth, a fairly blatant crib from Mars Attacks!, and we see Guitar Wolf’s biggest fan, Ace (Masashi Endo, who does the voice of Scorpos in the original Japanese version of Beast Wars) grooving away at one of their gigs. Ace wanders into a tense, armed stand-off between Guitar and a crooked promoter named Captain (Makoto Inamiya: Zero Woman Returns) and in return for his help is given a whistle that will summon the band whenever he is in trouble.

Shortly afterwards, Ace stops his small motorbike at a service station where he accidentally foils a hamfisted hold-up and meets a cute girl named Tobyo (Kwancharu Shitichai). Further down the road he comes across a bunch of zombies attacking a yakuza boss and roars back to the service station to rescue Tobyo before she suffers the same fate. Ace summons Guitar Wolf, and also mixed up in the action are a geeky young couple who were two-thirds of the attempted hold-up team, and a sexy arms dealer who has the most extraordinary arsenal of automatic weaponry (the yakuza boss was on his way to meet her when the zombies attacked).

There is no real attempt at explaining the zombies. Presumably it is connected in some way with the golden UFOs which reappear briefly at the end before being defeated by a sword(!), but there is also talk of a crashing meteorite. In fact, there’s not much attempt to explain anything. What there is, is hordes of zombies in pretty good make-up and subjected to plenty of highly enjoyable digital head-exploding effects. And fast cars, motorbikes and the occasional Humvee. And leather jackets, quiffs and lock’n’loll!

To add to the chaos, the enraged (and injured) Captain tracks down the band - and Tobyo reveals a rather surprising secret. There is also a significant, if somewhat unexpected, plea for tolerance and love

Wild Zero is a hilarious, nonsensical ride through sci-fi and rock’n’roll cliches with its tongue not so much in its cheek as ripped out and waved around. It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s gory, it’s sexy, it’s crazy and somehow - don’t ask me how - it all works.

Grab yourself a slice of Wild Zero now, say goodbye to all your critical faculties, and wallow in an hour and a half of LOCK’N’LOLL ZOMBIE JETU MOVIE!!!! Yes!!!

MJS rating: A-

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