Thursday, March 25, 2010

BATTLE GIRL: THE LIVING DEAD IN TOKYO BAY

The latest release from Synapse Films' "Asian Cult Cinema Collection" is Kazuo "Gaira" Komizu's BATTLE GIRL: THE LIVING DEAD IN TOKYO BAY (1992), an offbeat entry in the zombie Apocalypse subgenre.

A meteor plunges into Tokyo Bay, submerging large parts of the city and blanketing it with a mysterious fog. The government immediately seals off Tokyo, surrounding it with troops and electronic defenses. Inside the now cut-off city, the dead have risen and are preying on the survivors. A young woman, K-Ko (played by Japanese wrestler Cutie Suzuki) receives orders over her laptop computer to seek out and rescue refugees and escort them to emergency transports. To aid her in this, K-Ko is equipped with a bulletproof "Battle Suit" and a bunch of weapons. But, as she goes about her mission, chopping down zombies and battling crazed punks, she discovers a sinister military conspiracy...

Okay, here's the thing - despite the glorious promise of the title, BATTLE GIRL is mind-numbingly tedious. It's probably the most boring zombie flick I've ever seen, and that's saying something. The special effects are primitive, even for '92 (hell, they would have looked inferior in '82), there's no gore, no sex, not even any flamboyant, over-the-top action. No interesting characters, either. Just lots and lots of our heroine wandering empty, foggy streets, occasionally running into people with oatmeal slopped on their faces.

Synapse's DVD presents BATTLE GIRL with a full-frame, 1.33:1 transfer that looks soft but otherwise solid, with good color balance and contrast. There is no evident edge enhancement nor distracting digital artifacts. The film was an early 90s direct-to-VHS production, so the presentation would appear to be accurate. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo; the Japanese dialogue and synth score are clear and sharp. English subtitles are provided. The only extra is a new, hour-long video interview with director Komizu which is far more engaging than the tepid feature.

While Synapse has treated the movie well, and the Komizu interview is interesting, the movie itself is, well, dull. There are no thrills, no payoff, nor even any cool special effects to make it worth spending 74 sluggish minutes with. I can't recommend BATTLE GIRL, and that's a disappointment - from the title and premise, I was really hoping for something fun.

BUY: Battle Girl: Living Dead in Tokyo Bay (Ws Sub)