OneChanbara: The Movie – Vortex Movie Review

OneChanbara: The Movie – Vortex is a boring and embarrassing B-movie that only fans of the games will enjoy.

For all intents and purposes, the OneChanbara series of games represents the epitome of a B-movie franchise. After all, the Japanese action games were all about girls in bikinis slashing brain-eating zombies with katana swords. It’s only fitting then that its movie adaptation shares all those qualities, but the end result is so woefully uneven that OneChanbara: The Vortex is impossible to wholeheartedly recommend to anyone other than diehard fans of the series.

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As you probably guessed by now, there’s not a lot you should know in terms of story. So little in fact that a voice-over narration at the beginning tells you the plot and the rest of this action-horror film is fight after fight between pretty Japanese women and hordes of zombies. Here’s a summary of the story, just in case: set in the year 20xx, the world is infested by zombies because a mad scientist figured out a way to bring back the dead. Naturally, a couple of sexy women in skimpy outfits (named Aya and Saki) set out to defeat the undead creatures with katanas and shotguns. Everything about the story is generic and forced and while that might have worked for the video game, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for an 85-minute film. And that’s the worst part about Oneechanbara: The Vortex: this is a film that tries to be a game and the result is a boring and embarrassing B-movie that only fans of the games will enjoy.

The story’s so minimal, in fact, that I’m pretty sure someone who doesn’t speak Japanese can watch it without subtitles and still understand what happens. Apart from a bonfire conversation or a random flashback here and there, there’s not a lot of talking. Most of the talking is done with katana swords or shotguns, but believe it or not, that becomes dull after the umpteenth time it happens. What’s left is just a husk of a film that has zombies, girls in bikinis and little else.

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I know OneChanbara is a franchise that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean that the audience should give this substandard movie a pass. The music is terrible, the plot is asinine, the dialogue is as straightforward as possible, the characters are flat and the representation of women is offensive. But we all know OneChanbara is the way it is because it chooses fan service over substance and that’s its biggest sin. The only people who will get something out of this movie are B-movie fans or avid game players who have played OneChanbara and liked it.

Hollywood has a poor track record when it comes to video game movies, and if OneChanbara: The Vortex is any indication, so is Japan. Although it’s not going to ruin an illustrious franchise, The Vortex doesn’t do OneChanbara any favors either.