‘Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad’

Tom Doty Times Columnist

March 20, 2014

A misleading title masks an okay time-waster about a woman, in the titular garb but the only one brave enough to do so, who leads a small group against a mad scientist in a zombie wasteland.

The story, such as it is, gets explained in the opening credits. The world is in bad shape after an ethically challenged scientist, Dr. Sugita, has unleashed a virus that reanimates the dead. The dead wake up hungry and put the bite on the living, which cause them to die and return as zombies. Hmm, that’s original.

Anyway, into this apocalyptic mess struts Aya. She’s one mean motor scooter who rocks a “Man with No Name” poncho, a ten-gallon hat, and a two-piece bathing outfit. Apparently, this is the perfect ensemble for a young lady intent on finishing a blood feud with her sister (who likes to front that Catholic high school student uniform look) while mowing down hordes of the undead. Her other accessories include a sharp katana, some righteous tattoos, and a useless wingman named Katsui, who drops his knife and sweats profusely at the sight of the undead.

Luckily, they run into the shotgun-wielding Reiko. I do mean luckily, as her gun never appears to need reloading, despite the fact that she fires it about 30 times in any given fight scene.

They all have reasons for heading to the lab of Dr. Sugita. Reiko wants to avenge her daughter (who got zombie-chomped), Katsui hopes to find his kidnapped sibling, and Aya is hell-bent on killing her sister, Saki, who now works for Sugita.

This is all an excuse for fight scenes and mass carnage, and the flick delivers on those fronts. The fight bits sport tons of gore, lightning-quick finishing moves, and an endless supply of ready-to-perish zombies. You get barn fighting, laboratory-fu, and a hospital smackdown. The final battle see one of our heroes fall and another finally rise to the occasion. Will you feel something when these events happen? Probably not but it’s fun to watch, even if it fades from memory within seconds of ejection from your player.

This was based on a video game, so it’s no surprise that the action scenes rule. Games don’t require a sophisticated attention span, so the plot isn’t thick enough to support one. This is merely a series of staged bouts with just enough story to move the characters to the next battle. The acting itself is tongue-in-cheek, with lots of eye-rolling , broad facial expressions, and the requisite lousy dubbing.

All in all, it’s an okay action movie and might be a good tool for helping the gamer in your life detox a bit and try something that doesn’t require mashing a remote control without giving up the gaming structure. Perhaps this is best viewed as a gateway movie to get you hooked on cinema. After watching this effort, the gamer in your life will be ready for something even more involved, like “Gamera” or “The Three Stooges.” It’s a start anyway.

Best Line: “Go apologize to everyone in hell.”

2009, unrated.