Review © Alex Apple, 2002.

Directed by Takeuchi Tetsuro, 98 min. starring Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf, Drum Wolf, Masashi Endo, Kwancharu Shitichai, Makoto Inamiya, Masao Sato, Taneko, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Shiro Namiki, Naruka Nakajo, Murata Akihiko.

Oh. My. God. The Japanese spirit of rock n' roll, my friends, was not killed off by the twee tones of Cornelius and Pizzicato Five. There, beneath the surface, lurked all along a menacing, don't-give-a-fuck thing totally the opposite of, say, Shonen Knife. This is dirty, this is raw, this is rock n' roll in its truest sense, The Kids against The Man, one-two-three-four LET'S GO, make sure you look cool at all times, black leather at the ready.

And so it is that Guitar Wolf, self-proclaimed coolest band in the world and makers of the world's loudest album (it's true - play Jet Generation at anything approaching normal volume and your stereo will beg for mercy, mere seconds before shaking itself to bits) appear in what is actually their second movie. It's a knowing B-movie, with bits nicked wholesale from dozens of others - try Rebel Without A Cause, Brit motorcycle schlock-horror Psychomania, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Godzilla - and that's just for starters.

The plot, as it is, is paper-thin and knowingly meanders. Twenty-something rocker Ace (Masashi Endô) has a penchant for dirty garage rock and often is seen looking blissful in the front row of a Guitar Wolf show. Show ends, for some reason Guitar Wolf end up in a Mexican stand-off with club owner the Captain (Makoto Inamiya). Somehow Ace ends up in the room, distracts the Yakuza aiming at the band, Guitar Wolf (the guy, not the band... confused yet?) shoots off a couple of Captain's fingers, escapes, some zombies appear, kill some more Yakuza, somehow a female arms dealer gets involved, UFOs fly round the sky... tum-ti-tum-ti-tum.

But look, the plot doesn't really matter. Yes, there's lots of blood, drugs, beer, gender confusion, swearing, guns, zombies and motorcycles. The point is, this movie does exactly what you want it to do; it doesn't want to scare, it doesn't even want to gross you out; it's just a shlocky Japanese zombie flick. No deep meanings like BattleRoyale or even Ring. It's an action flick, the zombies mere cannon fodder. It's an excuse for Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf to neck beers, comb their hair, ride flaming motorcycles and look goddamn cool. It's an excuse to put in every B-movie cliche you could ever possibly imagine. And it's an excuse to play rock and roll VERY LOUD and not run into danger of pissing off your parents.

Masashi Endô puts in a ...performance as Ace, standing out only because everyone else is so wooden. (Thank the Lord, people, that Guitar Wolf was not cast as the lead, because, while he excels at standing looking cool, he could be acted off the screen by the king of wooden-ness, Keanu Reeves). Ace, you see, revels in not saying a huge amount but taking great chunks out of zombies with a crowbar instead. Such a character does not require great swathes of acting talent, just a good yell and the ability to make comical facial expressions. And, in that department, Endô does just as is required, as does Makoto Inamiya who plays the Captain, who is just plain creepy.

I could waffle for hours and hours about the shortcomings of this movie. Check out and you'll find many who have. But it really doesn't matter. This is much more similar in spirit to Tim Burton's Mars Attacks, in that it knows exactly what it's referencing and not really caring. Never taking itself too seriously, it revels in a sense of we're-making-this-up-as-we-go-along as the plot lurches from one badly thought-out set-piece to another. But with zombies in blue make-up eating people, BIG explosions and crude computer graphic effects, what's never lost is the spirit of adventure, of rock'n'roll, tongue in cheek all the way.

Yes, it's sloppily written and edited. There's continuity errors the size of Omaha. And yes, it seems like it was written into the contract that there MUST be a shot every six minutes with Guitar Wolf (guy or band, doesn't really matter) looking really cool. But who cares? Wild Zero does exactly what you expect it to do, no questions asked. It's very gory. It's very cool. It's really very funny in places too. Playing with cliche, Wild Zero drips with attitude, takes no prisoners, and, if you ever wanted a movie to sum up the essence of rock'n'roll, this is it.

Snowblood Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 11/10 - ROCK'N'ROLLLLL!
Sex: 0/10 - too many zombies and too much gender confusion.
Violence: 8/10
Guitar Wolf Cool Poses: on average every 5.3 minutes
Shlock Factor: 10/10
Flaming Bikes: 1
Flaming Mics: 1
Is Rock and Roll over, baby?: Rock and Roll never dies.
***Highly Recommended!***

Wild Zero Wallpaper

You can download this wallpaper here: [800x600] [1024x768]
Wallpaper credit: Alex Apple, 2002

Snowblood Apple Filmographies:

Guitar Wolf
Bass Wolf
Drum Wolf
Masashi Endô
Makoto Inamiya
Yoshiyuki Morishita
Shiro Namiki

Links: - the official site with a trailer is the main fansite for the movie - official German distributors - sounds like Midnight Eye had a blast too - long review, fantastic, but with spoilers Artsmagic are going to release the DVD in the UK

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