REVIEW: I Am a Hero
– By VS
One day, after returning from work late in the evening, Hideo (Yo Oizumi) witnesses a traffic accident in which a car is crashed, killing the victim instantly. However, despite severe injuries including a broken neck, the victim’s body stands up and walks away. Hideo questions whether this is another one of his hallucinations, but strange events begin happening around him.
For a long time now we only have English zombies and Chinese zombies, then last year we got our first Korean zombie movie ‘Train to Busan’ and now we welcome the first appearance of Japanese zombies. The zombie apocalypse genre is excessively tried and tired. How Japan, having some of the most crowded cities in the world, hasn’t gotten into the act is another mystery. Here, Shinsuke Sato adapts Kengo Hanazawa’s massively popular manga of the same name.
Hideo Suzuki (Yô Ôizumi) is a manga artist still trudging along long after his sell-by date. He lives with his wife who is tired of waiting for Hideo to score his first success at serialising his comic. Every night Hideo draws and stares at his self-made post-it notes of encouragement – “you rock” and “one day a street will be named after you”. If that doesn’t work, he will take out his shotgun for skeet shooting and pose in front of a full length mirror.
One night he is thrown out of the house and all hell breaks loose. He witnesses a virus attack on the city which is turning every one into a zombie! Together with a school girl (Kasumi Arimura) in short skirt, they go to Mount Fuji for safety because they read in one urgent posting on the internet zombies can’t survive at high altitude.
The film doesn’t push the zombie genre in new directions, but it takes the established tropes and gives it a fresh twist, and out comes one sick and satisfying monster entertainer.
The film has stellar visual effects – blackening veins, clouding eye-balls and grisly cracking noises. They move and contort like crabs and insects, which gave me the creeps. The mass chaos on the city streets is superbly shot. Imagine people coming from all directions and you are not sure who are the infected until they get nearer!
The basic structure of I Am a Hero is much like any other regular zombie film: First there is the chaotic outbreak, then there is the desperate struggle for survival, and finally the all-out onslaught of the undead as barriers fall and the zombies wreak havoc. The zombies are also very memorable, looking suitably yucky with their cloudy eyes and nasty complexion, and repeatedly speaking phrases that they would have said before death.
Like Train to Busan, the film is perhaps a little longer than necessary, but even at just over two hours, I highly recommend I Am a Hero to fans of the genre.
PS: Hideo means ‘Hero’!