A revolver-wielding stranger crosses paths with two warring clans who are both on the hunt for a hidden treasure in a remote western town. Knowing his services are valuable to either side, he offers himself to the clan who will offer up the largest share of the wealth.
A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
In order to settle a business dispute, a mob leader murders one of his own teenage sons. The surviving son vows to avenge his brother's death, and organizes his own gang of teenage killers to destroy his father's organization.
A Strikingly Original and Well-Made Superhero Film To Be Promptly Rejected By The Masses
The Italians have "The Leopard," the French "Major Blueberry," the US has "Spiderman 2," Germany "The Tin Drum," Russia "Alexander Nevsky" Britain "Monty Python Live!," Sweden "Smiles of a Summer Night," India "Bandit Queen" and Japan "Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City." I find it quite pathetic that most moviegoers are unable to experience anything remotely original in terms of cinematic style or content. I'm appalled by the mere thought of feeding upon the commercialistic trash of mainstream American Superhero cinema almost all of which is completely worthless, unimaginative, boring, and unintentionally hilarious. In like manner, I simply cannot understand why so many people indulge in studio controlled, mass-produced garbage on a whim, yet find it so difficult to appreciate a strikingly original, well-made horror film. "Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City" is one such film, and its current 0 rating is more a condemnation on IMDb voters than the film itself.
I don't like to include a long plot synopsis in my reviews, but when other reviewers insult the film for being a "mess", I am forced to explain things to persons who apparently have a prescribed limit to the number of brain cells they're willing to use while watching a movie. I certainly hope that these people aren't quite as stupid in their daily lives.
In a nutshell, Sho pukes up black and white mud as a foreshadowing of his interactions with the 1000-year-old zebra's spirit, which was preserved in the same kind of mud (and possibly drank the mud during its lifetime to preserve beauty). Cynthia Cheston (the Foreigner reporter) takes the zebra to the deserted house because it causes side-effects to those around it (Hino describes his nightmares and Makoto himself drives his pony off the road). The ghost zebra is the spirit of the zebra as manifested through the identity of a girl who was killed a few months earlier. Sho witnessed the murder, but the zebra's spirit possessed his body, thereby forcing Cheston to kill him again in self-defense. Plagued by these images, Sho suffers a fractured psychology and begins to believe that his act of murder was a hallucination.
Only a truly masterful filmmaker could pull this off with such perfection. Welcome to the world of Takeshi Miike.
Now that the dim-witted have been enlightened, I'd like to discuss other elements of this film. As far as style is concerned, I've heard some fans of Dario Argento who claim that his set designs and lighting are practically "characters" in his films. It's interesting to note that Miiki's location settings and architecture are employed in the same manner. I have no idea where he finds these places, but his films are driven forward by mesmerizing environments, decrepit buildings, natural settings, and expert use of lighting. Ironic, it seems, that someone such as I (an anti-snob to the grave) would be captivated by Miike's atmosphere as much as I am. Props to the filmmaker indeed.
While true that "Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City" panders to lovers of slow-paced atmospherics by having Sho walk slowly through moody environments, the fact remains that I need more than a pretty painting if I'm to be entertained for two hours, and "Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City" provides much in the way of entertaining events. The aforementioned murder scene is an obvious choice, but Sho's interaction with the zebra's spirit is good stuff. The gradual disintegration of the zebra girl on the foggy dock flies in the face of your typical Onryo, the ghoulish teleportation scene from one side of the room to the other is devilishly nice, and the creaky ceiling scene was well-executed. This is not pretentious tripe like "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams." On the contrary, this is expertly crafted, highly enjoyable cinema that is destined to be promptly insulted and trashed by those with no taste in film of which there are many.
This is not a perfect endeavor, mind you. Some of the acting is hokey at times, but there are so many positives here that they far outweigh any negatives. Yet somehow this film has not met the ultra low standards of your typical IMDb mainstream moviegoer. This film has been trashed to the point where I have seriously questioned the sanity of the world. Have you people really devolved back into a primordial state where quality execution of originality is not only ignored, but derided and insulted? Perhaps the conflicts were not explicitly referenced and explained to the point where a person with an IQ of less than 50 could understand them. Perhaps the pacing should have been sped up and supplemented with a few dozen jump scares to keep viewers awake. Perhaps the characters were too old for teenie-boppers to identify with, and should have been revised to include a bunch of pot-smoking, sex-crazed highschoolers.
Well, whatever this film was "missing", I certainly didn't miss it.
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