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February 23, 2010

Battle Girl: The Living Dead in Tokyo Bay


Batoru garu: Tokyo crisis wars
Kazuo Komizu - 1991
Synapse Films Region 1 DVD

I don't have it in me to hate a movie that stars someone named Cutie Suzuki. And Battle Girl is a mildly enjoyable entry that doesn't take itself seriously but doesn't pointedly aim for laughs either. The best line comes from one of the zombie hunters, when he yells at the zombies who are getting ready to feast on his buddy, that they already eaten too much.

A meteorite has splashed down in Tokyo Bay, enshrouding the city in some kind of fog. The greater part of Tokyo has been cordoned off from the rest of Japan as well as the world to isolate the effects of the meteorite. The dead have turned into flesh eating zombies due to something called cosmo-amphetamine. A army officer in charge of the operations, Fujioka, has found a way to turn people into indestructible killers with the cosmo-amphetamine, and has a small army killing human survivors and zombies alike. It is up to K-Ko, the daughter of an army colonel, to foil Fujioka.

The most interesting aspect of Battle Girl was something Komizu brought to the script, in making Fujioka's actions motivated by a perverse sense of nationalism. To paraphrase a line from U.S. involvement in Viet-Nam, Fujioka's plan is to destroy Tokyo in order to save it. There's also a plan to take over the world. On the down side, the closer one examines Battle Girl, the less sense it makes on all but the most visceral level.

This is the first film I've seen by Kazuo Komizu. The interview that comes with the DVD is somewhat informative, but I feel like most of it was a squandered opportunity by the unidentified interviewer. The most interesting part was Komizu discussing his changes to the screenplay, and the physical limitations presented by the costumes worn by Suzuki and some of the other actors. Komizu identifies The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a horror film that made a big impression on him, something that should have been examined more deeply by a more perceptive interviewer, considering that Komizu is famous, or infamous, for his own series of films that pushed boundaries regarding sex, violence and horror. Given the little bit of political weight Komizu provided to Battle Girl, I would have also wanted to know more about his early collaborations with Koji Wakamatsu, and in what ways that may have influenced Kozimu's work as a director.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at February 23, 2010 12:53 AM