manga
Zeram
.
Dir: Keita Amamiya
Star: Yűko Moriyama, Kunihiko Iida, Mizuho Yoshida, Yukijiro Hotaru
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1991
Format: Video
'

Beautiful female bounty hunter Iria (Yűko Moriyama) accompanied by her "A.I" computer called "Bob" hide in a disused warehouse on Earth whilst they lie in wait to trap an escaped prisoner from a far off galaxy. The prisoner is a genetically engineered killing machine called Zeram, and after his brutal and savage escape from the planet he was imprisoned upon our hero learns that Earth is his destination. Creating a replica of the small town she is hiding in and transporting it to another dimension, Iria will guide Zeram's ship to a teleportation point which will redirect him to the desired dimension before he realises that he is headed for a trap. Unfortunately for Iria, the local power company have discovered her illegal electrical hook up to a mains unit and despatched two of their men to remove it. Just as Zeram arrives in the "zone" created by Iria, the two power company guys Kamiya (Yukijiro Hotaru) and Tepphei (Kunihiko Iida) stumble across Iria's base and are accidentally transported to the "zone". Now Iria must try to capture Zeram and transport him back to a prison planet so she can claim a big pay out whilst trying to keep the blundering power company guys out of trouble.

The story isn't too bad really and was written by Keita Amamiya and Hajime Matsumoto. Matsumoto later went on to work on the special and visual effects for the acclaimed Japanese cult horror movie Ring. The direction is a bit of a stumbling block however, and the film has some extremely bizarre moments and is occasionally hard to follow or concentrate on. The dubbing is horrendous and worsened by an American drawl given to each of the characters.

Yűko Moriyama provides a very cool performance as Iria, and is the most watchable member of the cast. She has an athleticism which carries her from fight scene to fight scene, and despite the fact that much of the action is poorly directed she has the ability to shine. Kunihiko Iida is hard going and is almost as inept as his pastel clothed character and has a certain cannon fodder appeal to him. Yukijiro Hotaru's portrayal of Kamiya is either very good or very bad as he appears a slavering, gibbering moron. That is probably the most effective part of the performance as everything else is poor all things considered.

In order to make him more menacing Zeram comes with his own built in Gregorian chants complete with little bells. He also has a penchant for stomping around a lot for no purpose other than to scare you I suppose, because when he wants to he can't half shift. Some of the fight choreography looks good, until you see the same moves repeated a couple of times. On the plus side there are some good effects as well as the terrible ones and a couple of obligatory "man in a suit" bad guys to boot. At times the film is laughable even before Kamiya and Tepphei try to fight Zeram with some impractical looking weapons. Zeram himself is basically a combination of many movie bad guy cliches but in this form and movie it works adequately enough.

Despite the sci-fi premise this is definately a film for live Manga fans. It's weird, surreal and at times eclectic, even by Asian cinema standards.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home