Junk Shiryōgari (2000): Yakuza, Robbers and Zombies

Filmed in 1999 this schlocky bit of fun is a remake of a Japanese Mafia film called Score. Both were directed and written by Atsushi Muroga and both films pay tribute to the films Reservoir Dogs although Junk specifically pays tribute to Re-Animator and the original Dawn of the Dead. [Courtesy of Wikipedia]

The film is about a joint American/Japanese science experiment that deals with re-animating dead tissue. Due to a mistake, the experiment creates zombies. While the experiment is going on, a bunch of thieves rob a jewellery store that belongs to a Yakuza gang.

The thieves run for their lives being chased by the police and the Yakuza. The thieves take refuge in the building where the experiment has gone awry and pretty soon it’s every “man” for himself as the military, Yakuza and jewel thieves all fight zombies and each other.

Now this film is not going to win any awards for the acting. It is a real toss-up between the American General and the Japanese scientists English speaking as to who comes off worse. For my money it is the General hands down. I have never laughed so hard as during the scene where someone comes into the General’s office. His acting in the scene should have won a giant Raspberry.

But bad acting aside, it is one hell of a fun movie to watch and the main zombie (complete with white hair) is kind of scary and pretty much indestructible. Things do get a bit confusing in the middle and there could have been a few more Yakuza, but it all works out at the end.

The main has to do with the drug that the two governmental agencies have developed. The drug gets out of control with a bit of help by the first zombie. It then reanimates every dead thing it comes in contact with; creating an army of aggressive corpses.

There is a sort sub-plot about the scientist and the dead girl that they are experimenting on. She is either his fiancé (or rather was) or girlfriend and he’s hoping that the experiment will bring her back in a good way. But she comes back with scary white hair and one hell of an attitude that shows just what a bad idea this was.

The film is a little bit predictable in the ending, with the two characters that most people will pick as the obvious survivors. Until the end though the action is fast and furious and at times almost claustrophobic in places; it’s a great ride and the Yakuza with their bad-boy attitudes are quite funny.

If you are looking for a witty doppelgänger for Shaun of the Dead or the scariness of the Dawn of the Dead remake, you’ll be disappointed. But if you like your zombies wild, wacky and damn near unstoppable you’ll love Junk.

If you get a chance to see this you should. The atrocious acting by the American actor (who was obviously taken off of the local US Army base or the American Embassy) in his scenes with the scientist are worth the price of admission alone.

Not a “star” movie by any means, but a movie that is just so much fun to watch; you won’t forget it. Like the dead corpses that are inadvertently brought back to life (repeatedly) in the film, it will keep popping up in your head long after you see it.