Sometimes all you need is bikini-clad cowgirls, flashing laser swords that resemble lightsabers and killer zombie action. Welcome to the wonderful world of Chanbara Beauty. Based on the popular PS2 game series (don't let that put you off), Chanbara Beauty brings the adventures of sexy zombie slayer Aya to the big screen in all her katakana-wielding, zombie-slicing glory.
Written and directed by Fukada Yohei, Chanbara Beauty gets off to a promising start with its casting of three pin-up idols in principle roles. Otoguro Eri (Shutter, Shaolin Girl) doesn’t have a lot to say but who needs words when you’re playing feisty heroin Aya, slashing your way across the movie screen in your signature cowgirl attire. That would be cowboy hat. Check. Cowboy boots. Check. Long scarf. Possibly. And oh yes, a blink and you’ll miss it bikini? Ok, so maybe that's not your traditional cowgirl outfit but it sure works for me.
To defend her city she must take down an army of the undead raised by mysterious scientist, Sugita. Aya is joined in the fight by biker-chick Reiko (Hashimoto Manami), out to avenge her father's death with the aid of a shotgun and a fine pair of sidekicks. Aya's half-sister Saki (Nakamura Chise, Swing Girls) shows up to complete the threesome, donning a schoolgirl outfit for no apparent reason. She also has a lightsaber (sword) of her own. It's the Star Wars movie we never got to see, complete with beautiful cowgirls, ravenous zombies and lots of frenetic swordplay. George Lucas must be wishing he didn’t go all Jar Jar after all.
'Girls with hot bodies wearing sexy clothes performing action scenes to bring you a sexy and violent action film'.
I can't help thinking the blurb on the back of the DVD case is what also came to be known as the script. Kill some zombies, introduce the characters, introduce the plot, kill some zombies, introduce some more characters, kill the new characters in some random zombie onslaught, add a little dramatic tension, scratch that... kill some zombies. It's all very easy on the eye and the actors look fine (do fine) in their limited wardrobes (roles), but lets not forget that this is a film based on a video game and it's very rare that these things succeed anyway.
Chanbara Beauty sits proudly alongside the likes of Mortal Kombat and Tomb Raider; by no means a great film but taken as the video game adaptation it so clearly is, ticks enough boxes to ensure that fan boys have a night of sabre-wielding pleasure to die for. Any attempts at genuine emotion or (scoff) character development are forgotten as soon as the perfunctory action kicks in.
Fukuda laces his visuals with plenty of humour, and even though it doesn't deliver the goods in the way that Versus did, Chanbara Beauty remains a fun-packed experience all the same. If you’re fifteen. Mentally at least. Anyone over that age might want to get out more. AW