Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Movie Review: Higanjima - 2009

Cliche-ridden but quite entertaining horror-action flick

IMDBVampire movies are the Westerns of the horror genre; most people have had enough of them, except when they are exceptionally unique. The Korean-Japanese co-production "Higanjima" directed by Tae-gyun Kim, unfortunately, has neither a really original story nor unique characters. Nonetheless, it is quite entertaining, thanks to a lot of action that is delivered by an enthusiastic crew.

Akira (Hideo Ishiguro) is a normal teenager who is one day encountered by the mysterious and beautiful Rei (Asami Mizukawa). She tells him that his missing brother Atsushi (Dai Watanabe) is in trouble. In fact, he is trapped on an island inhabited by vampires. Joined by his friends, Akira travels to the island where the gang is confronted with a whole army of vampires lead by vampire lord Miyabi (Kôji Yamamoto).

Although the vampire lord looks like an albino, he is a walking cliche in that he is just as smug and aristocratic like 99% of all vampire villains in American productions of the "Vampire Diaries" kind. He also wears Victorian style clothing, which would make sense if this was "Interview with a Vampire" - instead of a movie playing solely in Japan. It is frustrating to see how the filmmakers tried to copy Hollywood, carelessly wasting the opportunity to come up with a unique vampire. When it comes to characters, I also wondered why Akira's friends thought it was a good idea to travel to a vampire infested island armed with (I do not make this up) one baseball bat and one bag of sandwiches.

On the plus side, there is a lot of action to keep you entertained for the movie's two hours. Most of it has been shot on-location on an island. If you happen to own the DVD, I highly recommend to watch the Making-Of commented by Dai Watanabe. I was impressed to learn that the actors did the stunts themselves, which is astonishing since there is really tons of fighting with swords, tree trunks and whatever else is at hand, and people thrown around by vampires and explosions.

Beneath the cliche-ridden surface of "Higanjima", I sense a great movie lurking. The end suggests that there will be a sequel. If so, I hope they will just try to be a bit more original.

Rating: 6 out of 10 useless fellow combatants.