10/12/08

Rock & Roll & Guitar Wolf Save The World!

Rarely when I sit down to write a review do I have to take a few moments to reign in my unmitigated enthusiasm, but this time is an exception. I actually had to put a restriction on myself from using words like "badass", "bitchin'", and "awesome". I promise to try and keep myself to just one instance of each term to describe tonight's film, and that is going to be tough. Real tough. So tough that I just had to stop myself from saying "totally rad" before the word film a couple of sentences back. This is a movie that captures the essence of what I look for in cult cinema, complete mindless fun, raw Rock & Roll, huge explosions, naked chicks with guns, zombies, and an evil dude in hot pants. I mean really what more could you ask for? Ahh, yes, perhaps a review of said film. I proudly present to you folks the majesty of.....


Wild Zero (2000) starring Masashi Endo, Guitar Wolf, Drum Wolf, and Bass Wolf. Directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi.



Like the classic 1950's movies that it takes it's cues from, Wild Zero knows to start with a bang. The bang of a meteor that has fallen to Earth and landed Asahi, Japan. We hear all about it on the radio while Ace gets ready to go see his favorite band, Guitar Wolf, in concert. (Ace's room is covered with music posters, and I was jealous of the one of Gene Vincent he had.) Ace slicks back his Pompadour and heads out for the show. Once there, we're treated to our first taste of Guitar Wolf on stage. With their futuristic '50's look and their badass (that's one) song 'Jet Generation' which sports lines like "There is a wallet on my ass with a Rock & Roll license", Guitar Wolf prove that they are the real deal, and they are. Guitar Wolf is a real band with albums like RockNRoll Etiquette, Planet of the Wolves, and Missile Me.


Ace has dreams of being the next Guitar Wolf, and sneaks backstage to talk to their manager, The Captain. Little does he know that the band is having problems of their own with The Captain. Seems he values money more than the message of Rock, and the boys are taking some exception to it. So much in fact that a Mexican standoff is underway. When Ace hears The Captain saying that Rock is dead, he bursts in the room and all hell breaks loose. Guitar Wolf blows away one of The Captain's bodyguards and then two of the greedy manager's fingers. Before the band leaves, Guitar Wolf becomes blood brothers with Ace and gives him a whistle which he can use "when you're in danger".


The next day we meet a bevy of new characters. There's some Yakuza goons on their way to an arms deal, the lovely female arms dealer waiting for them, a trio of geeks out to get a glimpse of the meteor, and a girl left on the side of the road while a man shouts "Pervert" at her. These plot lines go back and forth for a while until the girl and the geeks end up at the same Esso gas station. One of the geeks, the afroed Maseo, goes in the station to try and hold it up with a pair of butterfly knives. The girl passes out, and only wakes after Ace, passing through on his way to another show, accidentally foils the would be robber. When Ace and the girl, Tobio, meet it's love at first sight. We don't have to guess either because as they gaze at each other the screen becomes heart shaped with each of their names on it. Cheesy? Yes. Awesome? (There's the second.) Completely!

However, Ace moves on down the road so he won't be late for his show, but soon he comes across a pack of zombies eating a corpse. He's torn and needs guidance, but never fear. Guitar Wolf himself shows up in a vision to tell Ace to go back for the girl. He finds her barely holding off the flesh eaters invading the station. He bravely fights his way through to rescue her, and they run off to find a safe place. Meanwhile, the Yakuza becomes zombie food, the 3 geeks get whittled down to 2, and the arms dealer gets attacked by zombies in her shower. She blows their heads clean off with giant gun without even thinking of reaching for a towel.

Ace and Tobio finally finally find a safe place, and Ace goes all emo on us for a minute. He breaks down about how uncool he is compared to Guitar Wolf, and how he would not be able to save Tobio. She attempts to comfort him by doffing her clothes, but much to Ace's surprise, Tobio is a dude. Ace runs off screaming and locks himself in a closet where Guitar Wolf appears to him again this time instructing that "Love has no borders, nationalities, or genders! Rock & Roll!". Ace struggles with his inner conflict, and after hearing Tobio scream, he uses his whistle to call the band to his aid. With a crowbar in hand, Ace fights his way out of the zombie throngs, but Tobio is nowhere to be found.
The ending is one spectacular scene after another as the band, the arms dealer, and the geeks finally get together, and Guitar Wolf continues his search for his "Rock and Roll Blood Brother" Ace. With more explosions, gunshots, and bitchin' (there's the last one) electrified killer guitar picks, the film is a thillride of epic proportions that will please any fan of Rock & Roll, Ed Wood, Romero, or Evil Dead.


If you haven't guessed, I love this film, but if it far from perfect. The alien ships look terrible, and they are the CG equivalent to a plate on a string. The first half hour of the interwoven story lines is handled so ineptly that it took most of that time for me to even know who the characters were. However, this all added to the B-movie vibe that pervaded this flick. The characters were all handled so richly that each of the band members had a distinct personality. I especially loved the two geeks who resembled Steve Buscimi and Margaret Cho. Their storyline culminates in another example of how "Love knows no borders." The costuming is really great as well with the greasy Pompadours, The Captain and his lace up hot pants, and the arms dealer in her fur trimmed plaid bodysuit. All around I just can't see how anyone with a love of genre flicks could turn this one down. If you haven't seen it, then run don't walk to get it. If you have then see it again and relive the zombies, the love, and the ROCCCCCCCKKKKKAAAANNNNDDDDROOOOOLLLLLL!!!!!!

Bug Rating

3 comments:

  1. Wow, great review. I usually don't get into cult Asian cinema. But after a writeup like that, I just might have to make an exception. Plus, it's got zombies!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am definitely going to have to check out this movie!

    Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete

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