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Film Review: Junk: Shiryô-gari (2000)

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After a robbery,a group of thieves meets up with the Yakuza at an old abandoned factory in order to exchange money and jewels.However unknown to them the factory was an old military facility which was working on reanimating the dead.And they succeeded,meaning the factory is loaded with bloodthirsty zombies.”Junk” is slowly getting a minor cult following,because it has creepy,old-style zombies that are a combination of Romero/Fulci/O’Bannon’s zombies.The gore is plentiful and the feel of the film is very reminiscent of the Italian gut-munchers of the late 1970/early 1980 period.The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and is pretty silly at times.There is plenty of gory mayhem on display-lots of headshots,zombies biting parts of their victims and eating intestines etc


So, some hip and hapless armed robbers take to the highway after their big score goes wrong. They happen upon an unwholesome but apparently safe hiding place in the middle of nowhere, where they decide to lay low and bicker amongst themselves for a while. Then, wouldn’t you know it: it turns out the hideout is actually home to a seemingly endless undead horde, all of them clamouring for their next feed.

Sounds familiar? That’s the plot of From Dusk Till Dawn. If for some reason you haven’t seen it, don’t worry; it wasn’t very good even in 1996, and it’s aged horribly since. But that synopsis might equally describe Junk, which tells much the same story, only with no bikers, no strippers, and no Cheech Marin repeatedly shouting the word ‘p*ssy’.

In all fairness, this time it’s zombies rather than vampires, and the film makes no bones about the influences that it wears on its sleeve. Junk is unabashedly inspired by Quentin Tarantino, though it feels more like some of those nineties movies that rode on QT’s coattails with a dubious executive producer credit. There is no disguising that this is a very low budget film. It has a kind of early eighties televisual look about it, although that’s no bad thing in itself. In fact, the jewellery shop heist scene at the beginning of the film (complete with tengu masks and surprisingly ambitious camera work) is not bad at all.

Junk starts off strong with the heist scene, but unfortunately that’s as good as it gets, and it never gets anywhere near that good again. The most striking thing about this film is its wildly uneven quality. It’s almost as though it were a collaboration between three or four directors of drastically different levels of competence. The handful of English language scenes scattered through the film—in which the obligatory misguided scientist interacts with the U.S. military for some reason—are atrociously written and acted. The inane dialogue delivered by moustachioed, dead-eyed actors in fatigues calls to mind the American Ninja films, but without any of the guilty pleasure. All that could be excused by the language barrier, but elsewhere the script is still pretty awful, and it gets noticeably worse as the film goes on.

That said, even later in the film the camerawork is often pretty good, with some nice tracking shots that lend a modicum of class otherwise absent from the production. The editing generally isn’t bad. The zombies themselves are passable, and there are some nice effects, but the film as a whole suffers from a bankruptcy of ideas that prevents the viewer from investing anything into it. It’s impossible to care about the story or any of the characters. Almost nothing expected happens in the entire ninety-something minutes, except for one inspired homage to Enter The Dragon. Here a zombified Yakuza boss tastes a little of his own blood (and munches on a bit of entry wound flesh, too) before a showdown with the heroes, aping Bruce Lee in the famous ‘hall of mirrors’ scene. I must admit to cracking a big smile at that part.

To give Junk its due, there’s little here that’s actively offensive to anyone’s sensibilities as a film lover. It’s not the worst film ever made. It’s just very, very mediocre. None of the actors are in any way memorable, except for the one who adopts Toshiro Mifune’s old tactic of yelling and pulling crazy faces for the entire film. The plot is virtually non-existent, the actions scenes indifferent, and only the ending is actually bad enough to elicit any kind of strong feeling. Here the quality of the film goes into a tailspin as the heroine grapples with the ‘zombie queen’, who inexplicably morphs into a kind of Lost In Space version of herself when she gets angry. The effects, makeup, camerawork and lighting all go to hell along with everything else. It’s as though everyone involved just got dispirited by the whole business, and found they just didn’t care anymore. I just hope they all got paid.

Junk: Shiryô-gari (2000)

One comment

  1. I red some reviews saying this movie suxx but it is a good zombie film in the tradition of classick American and Italian zombie chunkblowers!


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