|Index||6 reviews in total|
Doesn't it just annoy you when an at first promising film slowly slips
in the wrong direction? This one starts out with a swordsman dressed up
heavily in some waterproof clothes taking on an onslaught of vampires
whom are wearing old fashioned Japanese attire. We then skip to Japan
where we meet a group of friends. It's witty, well shot, the acting is
great and there are a lot of unanswered questions; it breaks out like a
good action horror movie. It also wouldn't be a stretch to say it
carried shades of another well known J-horror, Battle Royale. It has
that same camaraderie and wit, with subtle moments of horror, but at
the same time being very down to earth. It slowly begins to slip
though. The brother of the swordsman is amongst this group that we met,
and they all go to find and help him. After much melodrama and
annoyingly overacted teen angst, after meeting some strange women whom
tells them of a situation involving vampires on her home island, it all
begins to get a bit grating as we are hammered with ridiculously over
the top nonsense.
It was still promising though. It was still fun. Then we get to the island. Every bit of wit and good dark horror seemed to have been swapped in favour of pure overkill in the melodrama and overkill in trying to build the characters in particular of the main vampire. It's what I call too much talk not enough action; anyone who has seen some of the modern shounen anime such as Bleach will understand. Big bad guy is insurmountable. Big bad guy has 300 attempts to wipe out our protagonists. Big bad guy spends those 300 spots fitting in his little quips, going on about something to do with why he's so special, and how he's unbeatable. Put that together with the fact that the main vampire is the most androgynous and strangely attired bad guy I've ever seen, and put together all of these overkilled overly melodramatic moments, and its momentum slowly dripped away. Still good mindless fun, but it could, and should have been more.
I found "Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island" to be a rather
entertaining movie. And as for an Asian vampire movie, it was a nice
change to see it not being those hopping vampires. I assume that being
credited to this being a Japanese vampire movie, and not a Chinese.
The story in "Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island" is about a group of young people being brought out to a mysterious island that isn't on any maps, where they are looking for Atsushi, Akira's brother who has been missing for two years. Something is very wrong on the island, however, and the young people soon find themselves surrounded by vampires. The entire island is controlled by Miyabi, the master vampire. Will the group be able to slay Miyabi and make it off the island alive?
Actually the storyline is a bit 'mainstream' and borrowing from various movies, so it doesn't really offer all that much new and innovating material. But still, it worked out well enough, because the storyline is well accompanied by lots of action, thrills and good acting.
Not being familiar with the Manga upon which this movie is based, I have no idea how true (or not) the movie is to the Manga. So I watched the movie without any prior information about it and without having been influenced by the Manga. I found "Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island" to be fun and overall exciting. The fight scenes were well choreographed and the characters were nice and well cut out.
So if you like Japanese cinema and enjoy vampire movies (where vampires don't have sparkly skin, big hair, and are romanticized) then you should give "Higanjima: Escape From Vampire Island" a chance.
"Higanjima" is not a great movie by any means, but it is quite
entertaining and offers almost two hours of fun.
The story is simple enough. Hideo Ishiguro's Akira is a high school student that has his group of friends and a regular life. The only bitter point is the death/disappearance of his older brother a few years ago. But then, one day, when he is running away from some bullies, he meets a mysterious woman that tells him his brother is still alive, in a out-of-the-maps island... full of vampires. Will Akira believe her and decide to go the island with her, or will he decide that she is just crazy and a liar?
From that moment on the movie offers a nice mixture of horror, action and humor. It never raises the bar too high, and some of the acting is a little bit shaky (good enough, though, in general), but it keeps the action going. The plot is simple, but the characters, even if caricatures, are well developed and the actors made them interesting and charismatic. The CGI is meh, but it is not really important.
Too bad that it becomes a little bit repetitive and overlong, and that some moments could have been greatly improved if they had tried just a little bit. Otherwise, a trip to "Higanjima" is absolutely worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening sequence shows a lone vampire killer successfully plying
his hobby. This is on some island where there are many vampires. The VK
does in several, then talks to a man who is in the process of turning
to a vampire. Before they meet, the defenseless man spoke of a woman
who 'tricked' him into coming to the island.
Next sequence is at a high school. Akira the tall and confident talks to his friend Pon who can't defend himself against his brother. Akira gets challenged by some local bully (and his gang of eight or so) whose sister claims Akira ditched her. Great. High school nonsense that has brutal consequences. Akira wisely runs for it, and manages to get off campus.
Rei saves him from the chase, and offers him a challenge of sorts. Also, Rei assures Akira that his brother is alive and well.
Akira's parents tell him that the family fortunes are not going well. Akira volunteers to work instead of save for college. They ignore him, wishing only that the older brother Atsushi had not gone missing, wailing and moaning.
Akira and his friends try to find Rei. They find vampires instead, and do not do well against them. His older friend Ken gets changed, Yuki gets roughed up, and Akira takes one huge sequence of beatings. Rei appears and turns the tide. She starts explaining Higanjima Island and the vampires there.
Akira decides to go to the island; the others are not in favor of it. There are some changes of heart overnight. So a team of gawky teens goes to fight a horde of vampires on an island.
They find a village, which seems deserted. The lights come on, soon they are surrounded by vampires, and Rei has vanished on them. This is reminiscent of the opening sequence. Rei has an earnest discussion with Master Miyabi, the leader of the vampires. He is not particularly happy with her, but she is his plaything, and he wants to taste the hate and fear in her blood. The vampires outside start to eat the teen-aged group. The first is Ken, who will be lab rat. The teens get free after one of the vampires drops a key.
Yuki, Ken, and Akira find Atsushi, who is not that pleased to see them. Soon they meet up with two other escapees; Pon is not with them. The larger group goes to a safe place to sleep that Atsushi shows them. He does recon; they sleep, mostly. Pon finds them, and starts venting. He has plenty to vent as an omega male. Plus, now he's a vampire. More vampires show up; Atsushi leads them away.
Hm, the teens did not find the weapons that they brought, and have not re-equipped themselves. Fighting and fleeing goes on. One of the flying vampires abducts Yuki. Akira handles that stupidly, but Atsushi comes up with a plan for rescuing her. First though, there is a long flashback to where Atsushi first came to the island (pre-vampires); he and his fiancée Ryoko implore her family to bless their union. At a local shrine, Atsushi unwittingly releases Miyabi, who proceeds to kill Ryoko. After that, the small group meets with the local resistance fighters. Meanwhile, Miyabi is concentrating on creating the 'perfect being,' whatever that might be.
Nice, we have the setup for a more major battle to come. Atsushi, then Akira, set off alone to rescue Yuki. Rei joins them after a while. The odd vampire 'creations' get dispatched.
Most of our heroes go home, but is it really over? (Sequel alert.)
Cinematography: 7/10 The camera work here reminds me of how stunningly beautiful visuals can be. The aspect is 2.35, which I like a lot, and the quality of the filming is high to go along with this. During rapid motion sequences, jerky camera movements are common. There was a high proportion of dark, low contrast footage toward the last third of the film.
Sound: 9/10 On Netflix, this film comes in either Japanese or dubbed in English. One can switch back and forth on the fly. The Japanese sounds a lot better to my ear; the young men sound like young men. In the English dub, they sound like screeching chimps. Also the English dub is fairly poor for lip sync. The incidental music is incredibly loud; have your finger near the volume adjustment. Much of the incidental music is is lush and fine, even if loud. The sounds of the rain are nicely captured.
Acting: 6/10 An adventure movie starring teenagers. Oi. The resistance group just seemed to be extras standing around for the most part.
Screenplay: w/10 Which vampire rules were in place? The vampires seemed to go about in sunlight with some impunity, and what it took to kill one (destroy one?) seemed unclear. Rei's character was puzzling. It seemed that Miyabi, the teenagers, and the resistance all had sufficient reason to kill her on sight, yet that did not seem to be the case. Interesting juggling, there.
SFX: 7/10 The winged vampires were very nicely done. Some of the later appearing monstrous creations were not nearly as impressive.
So it tries to be funny and dramatic at once. I think it does not
achieve it's goal, but of course you might feel different. It's a
shame, because there are quite a few good scenes in here. But it drifts
into melodrama at times, when it is completely unnecessary. Not to
mention that the acting (even for that sort of a movie) is bland, if
you are being nice to the movie.
Then again, since this is based on a Manga, it is always difficult to put the complexity of those onto one film. Unfortunately I have not read any of those "comic books" (hope you are not offended by me calling them that, but not everyone might know what a Manga is). Still I'm sure they are far better than this one, that can be enjoyed at times ... especially with low expectations
Wow, Higanjima if considered a horror movie is a total fail (except for
he fun head smashing opening scene). If taken as a comedy this movie is
pure genius... you get some of the funniest over-acting, staged shots
of the coolest nerd-losers in movie history, some of the gayest
smart-ass vampires, some of the most annoying screechy ghost grannies,
the Korean version of Harry Potter as a sidekick funnier than even the
cliché fat dumb funny guy.... and don't even start with the "cool" main
characters. Akira is the handsome nice guy who tends to sit down for
misplaced scenes of unfitting sadness and staring at the horizon, his
brother is some kind of a nerd who watched too many Rambo movies and
decided killing vampires is fun and makes you look cool and then there
is a cool rocker dude (love the staged scenes with the baseball bat)
who seems to have been snatched from a bad 70ies rock gang movie. He
tends to appear more retarded than the obviously retarded Pong
Anyway... that gang of idiots for unexplainable stupid reasons heads of to retardation island Higanjima where they fight a bunch of vampires, exploding winged vampire sluts, cheap CGI dragon-meets-Giger-style-Alien monsters and zombie degenerates like the kick ass brain dead "Reaggae" zombie who is by far the funniest. The whole movie doesn't make an inch of sense and the random editing adds to the ridiculous funny bone of Higanjima, mixing shaky cam fight sequences that are barely watchable without throwing up with endless shots of Akira sitting on a wall and being sad for 20 minutes or having some romantic puppy-flashbacks before turning into a bloodthirsty fighting machine that splits flying leaves in slow motion.
The fight sequences are always accompanied by misplaced epic heavy rock music and tend to recycle the basic ideas of smashing heads, chopping off arms or driving swords through hollow vampire-zombie heads in a repetitive fashion. They really just had these 3 ideas, so even a massive monster dragon has to have his head smashed first and then stabbed just to make sure its really dead. Of course this movie is 2 hours long to elaborate on the exquisite plot and thrilling fight sequences. On higanjima heroes die slowly so they can scream the names of their loved ones for minutes even after having a samurai sword driven through their nerd-brains.
The director is either a total comedy genius or a lobotomy patient... anyway, put on your diapers when watching this.
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