Mame YamadaSola AoiRisa KasumiMari Sakurai
Big Tits Dragon: Zombies vs. Strippers
Medium: film
Year: 2010
Writer/director: Takao Nakano
Original creator: Rei Mikamoto
Keywords: zombies, boobs, horror
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Io Aikawa, Saori Ando, Sola Aoi, Kaworu Asakusa, Daisuke Iijima, Hachiro Ika, Kenshin Iwakura, Takashi Kakizawa, Risa Kasumi, Kozo Kimura, Ini Kusano, Mami Misaki, Mari Sakurai, Ricaya Spooner, TakeC., Tamayo, Minoru Torihada, Kazuki Tsujimoto, Keisuke Urushizaki, Mame Yamada, Yumi Yoshiyuki, Kanako Ono
Format: 73 minutes
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1642252/
Website category: J-sleaze
Review date: 8 April 2011
It's the latest film from the director of Sexual Parasite: Killer Pussy. This one played at Cannes, believe it or not, although I'm sure that's thanks to the title.
The full Japanese title, incidentally, is "Big Tits Dragon: Hot Spring Zombie vs. Stripper 5". That number at the end doesn't mean the fifth in a series, but just the number of strippers. It's based on a 2004 horror manga called Big Tits Dragon and I'm afraid I found it disappointing.
Basically it's the mediocre Japanese straight-to-video nonsense that you'd have expected from the title, except that it happened to go to cinemas. It ticks all the boxes, but not as hard as you'd think because this is a mainstream blockbuster by Takao Nakano's standards. For starters, it has surprisingly little sleaze. Yes, the cast contains famous porn stars and the title promises nudity, but in spite of this Nakano's being coy about it. Sora Aoi goes topless in the title sequence, for instance, but her modesty is preserved by the text of the title. The strippers don't do much stripping. You'll see a lot of shorts and bikini tops, but actual tit shots are few and far between... although when they do come, Nakano goes for close-up and slow-motion.
The main influences here would seem to be Noboru Iguchi and Yoshihiro Nishimura, actually. You know. Tokyo Gore Police, The Machine Girl, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and so on. All of those films are comparatively uninterested in nudity and instead are getting excited about freakshow gore effects and way too much imagination. This film is like that too. The nudity is tame and the first half-hour is fairly dull, but the film comes alive when it wheels out the dead. We have flesh-munching zombies. We have cartoonish gore. We have special effects showing you silly things you not only haven't seen before, but would have had to be a freak even to imagine in the first place. Thus for instance not only do we see vagina dentata, but one that's also a flamethrower. If you've always wanted to see Japanese porn stars slashing at zombies with chainsaws and samurai swords, this is the film for you.
The acting's slightly worse than I'd expecting, since Sora Aoi struck me as a disappointment. She's a media personality who's done regular film and TV work as well as hardcore porn, but of course this is Japan and that's no guarantee of talent. Ah well. The movie begins with a flash-forward to stripper vs. zombie action, but after that we're in for half an hour of nothing much as the girls get a job at a new place and prove that they can't dance. I wouldn't have minded this if I cared about the cast, but I didn't. Our five heroines are Io Aikawa (Nagoya-jo Pindom model), Mari Sakurai (nude model), Tamayo (hard to Google), Sora Aoi (porn star) and Risa Kasumi (another porn star) and there's only one of them who's in any way interesting, which would be Sakurai, the Lolicon fashion freak. You really do see girls dressed like that in Japan, although I can't remember seeing one with a red colour scheme.
To be fair though, Nakano isn't just shoving placeholders in front of the camera. He's given them character traits, so for instance Kasumi has a tattoo and a bad attitude, while Aikawa likes money.
It should also be admitted that the supporting cast is interesting. Prize-winning Pink actress, screenwriter and director Yumi Yoshiyuki crops up, since she and Nakano seem fond of casting each other in their movies. I've seen her in a fair few things now. She's sharp-faced and scary, as if she'd been drawn by Gary Larson. Then there are the men, who of course are entirely irrelevant to the movie but are still the weirdest, ugliest bunch you ever saw. These include people like Minoru Torihada, who's a Japanese comedian and the first one to make jokes about Imperial Japan and take on taboo subjects like the Imperial family. They're quite fun.
At the end of the day, I wasn't grabbed. It's tamer than I'd been expecting, both in terms of sleaze and in terms of going batshit crazy with silly body-horror like Iguchi and Nishimura, although to be fair it's probably about on a par with those two for entertainment value. I've seen immeasurably worse. It's okay. Its zombie action is old-school and perfectly acceptable, although you can see it's the same eight or so zombies in every scene, and I have no objection to watching scantily clad girls wave around lethal weapons. It's just also in no way good.
I've seen the claim that it's supposed to be an ironic take on Japanese pop culture, mind you. There's a line where they're watching TV and someone comments that "it must be a cheap movie, they're popular lately. Like some girl fighting zombies with a cheap sword." This shows a level of winking self-awareness. There's also some mild interest to be found in the homages to Sergio Leone.
Did I like this film? No. However it's succeeded in getting a lot of attention, if only thanks to the title, and it's one of those films that in the face of all logic has gone worldwide. The Barbican in London screened it last year, in a double-bill with RoboGeisha. Nakano is also, in his own way, not an unimportant director. He had an impact on the entire Pink genre with his screenplay for The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai, which achieved international recognition. He wrote the screenplay for a Minoru Kawasaki animal costume comedy, Kabuto-O Beetle. He's acted in award-winning Pink films and his other movies include Sumo Vixens (with topless women doing sumo wrestling), Queen Bee Honey and an erotic frog superhero comedy called Hop Step Jump!. I suspect I'll be seeing more of his films, although I'm not expecting them to be classy.
Compared with Japanese straight-to-video films, it's solid. The cast get some characterisation, the plot isn't full of holes and the zombie action is respectable. It's also not pornographic, which is unusual for Nakano, and it won't have hurt its profile that they made it in 3D. However by normal standards, it's mediocre.