REVIEW: OneeChanbara The Movie: Vortex (2009)

The zombie slaying sisters a back, in a sequel that’s more of a reboot, fighting against a new enemy.


By Raymond Arcega
Last updated on

OneeChanbara The Movie: Vortex

Original Title: お姉チャンバラ THE MOVIE vorteX
Year: Japan
Language: Japanese
Genres: Action, Horror
Director: Tokairin Takeshi

As was its predecessor, OneeChanbara, OneeChanbara The Movie: Vortex is a B-movie through and through. It’s an adaptation of the video game with an equally campy premise, however it features no real continuation to the story it serves as a follow-up to.

oneechanbaravortex-poster

Taking place in another bleak future in which the world is overrun by zombies, the story once again centers on Aya (this time played by gravure idol Tejima Yu) and her younger sister Saki (Ozawa Akari). The two are the last surviving members of the Imichi Clan, whose special bloodline enables them to have fascinating powers when coming into contact with blood.

One day, they meet a girl named Misery (Imura Kumi), who tells them about Himiko, the controller of the mysterious Organization, which seeks to collect pure blood of the Imichi Clan in order to control the world. Misery asks the two sisters to help her fight against the villains.

They discover that Himiko is actually a little girl (Arakawa Chika). She is also accompanied by Ryo (Hoshino Shohei) and Reiko (Kawamura Rika) – an old friend of Aya’s. So Misery might not all who she claims to be.

oneechanbaravortex1

Vortex is filled with everything that makes a bad B-film great: hot girls with facial expressions that could rival a stone, dull framing, and action sequences that could compete with even the most intense elementary school stage plays.

As mentioned earlier, this pseudo-sequel bears no continuity with the first film. It’s apparent from the start, with Saki alive and well fighting side-by-side with her sister. The cause of their parents’ deaths is also different, and the evil D3 Corporation doesn’t exist. So basically, Vortex is kind of a reboot.

oneechanbaravortex2

The first film also featured the gunslinger Reiko. We are teased a little bit with her introduction, However, she is reduced to sidekick quickly, making way for Ryo – the only lead male. At first, he is as useful as broom in a gun fight, but because of some insane deus ex machina, he becomes central to the story.

So all in all, comparing Vortex to its predecessor is like comparing the second Mortal Kombat film to the first, which says something since the first OneeChanbara didn’t set the bar too high.

oneechanbaravortex3

The pacing and tempo is as enjoyable as watching a turtle race a cheetah. Reactions to situations, which would otherwise call for quick responses, are so slow that you’d think that the characters were being fed what to do on the spot. Also, there are a ton of scenes that could have been trimmed in length. We can only keep so much attention when watching a person, paralyzed with fear on the ground, back away from slow moving zombies.

If you thought the CG blood and sparks were cheesy in the first film, you’ll have a blast here. Blood and sparks are still CG, but they upped the ante by adding pyrotechnics. However, it was all but animations layered over scenes, as if someone was playing around on Adobe After Effects for a student film project. Definitely adds laughs to scenes that are supposed to portray grave danger.

oneechanbaravortex4

The zombies are no longer Kung Fu practitioners like their predecessors, which is a bit of a disappointment, as they were fun to watch. However, this film’s zombies share the inconsistency of the ones in the first. They lump around doing the zombie shuffle, but are nimble and able to quickly jump to their feet during the fast action sequence. A new rule was also added to the zombies – one that made the film more similar to a video game – in which they would burst into a puddle of blood upon being killed.

In addition to the zombies, are introduced to the Organization. For some reason, its members wear suits and shades, and have apparently have stolen the Kung Fu abilities of the zombies.

oneechanbaravortex5

Overall, OneeChanbara The Movie: Vortex took the enjoyable campiness from the first film and made it explode into a puddle of blood. It went from a B-movie that people could laugh alongside with while saying “WTF?”, to something that people just say “WTF?” to. Well, at least Tejima Yu doesn’t have to quit her regular job as a gravure idol in order to pursue a newfound acting career.


Watch this film…

…if you want to see Tejima Yu kill zombies in a bikini.


About the Author

Raymond Arcega

Twitter

Follow Ray on Twitter and chat with a fellow cinema nut. He also tweets about tokusatsu, assorted geekery, and life and adventures in Japanland.