Wednesday Media Review: Zeiram

Review by TheChoujinVIrus

Note: This is a movie review, so there will be spoilers to the movie. Just a fair warning should you proceed and read it.

Hey, it’s your boy, Choujin!

It’s nearly Halloween, though it’s only a week away, and the best thing about it that your boy likes to do is watch monster movies. Some monster movies I enjoy like Aliens or The Evil Dead. However, one such film I really enjoyed was an old anime made in 1991 by Keita Amemiya called Zeiram. A Live-Action film that has monsters, some comedy, and terror wrapped into one lovable bundle. So get yourselves comfortable, and we’ll dive into this Japanese masterpiece of mine.

The movie begins on an alien world where a sizable armored alien with a female geisha face mass-murdering an unnamed armed force before escaping into space. A message emerges explaining that Zeiram has escaped, being spoken in an alien language and that he must be captured. The movie then cuts to the early 1990s Japan, and we’re introduced to the first three leads of the film: the young Teppei, the easygoing Kamiya, and a mysterious woman. Kamiya and Teppei began chatting about their job, and a potential woman (much to Teppei’s basis and annoyance over Kamiya’s probing). Our mysterious woman is later revealed to be an alien bounty hunting duo named Iria and her AI companion Bob. The two of them were building a transponder and preparing a particular area called “the Zone” to capture Zeiram, who’s on his way to Earth. Iria questions Bob on whether they can capture Zeiram without needing the Zone.  Bob reminds her that due to Earth’s primitives must require them to use the Zone or else they could lose their license. With that, Iria finishes the Zone prep (even naming it after our movie title’s monster), and the pieces start being placed.

 As Iria prepares the Zone, which creates an exact copy and replica of the town of Mikasa, Teppei, and Kamiya on their usual work shift for the electrical company. Their boss calls them to inspect an “illegal hook up,” the two do not understand is that the line was set up by Iria to draw power. Meanwhile, Iria is just about to head into the Zone to intercept Zeiram only to nearly be spotted by the duo. Both Teppei and Kamiya look around Iria’s headquarters, wondering about the potential hazards her makeshift equipment would cause. However, things go haywire when Zeiram’s arrival to Earth. The impact spooks the two, which causes Kamiya to trip a switch that teleports Teppei into the Zone. Iria, now realizing what just happened, re-calibrates the device and is going into the Zone to get Zeiram. However, Kamiya jumps in to find his friend. Iria then puts him into a stasis device to keep him from interfering with her hunt.

Now that's a monster

Meanwhile, Teppei wanders the ghost town Zone replica as he only finds a non-functional phone, leaving him confused at what’s going on. Iria’s first job involves destroying Zeiram’s pod, ensuring he has no way of escaping. Teppei suddenly encounters Zeiram, nearly obvious of the danger he’s in. Luckily, Teppei evades Zeiram’s shot, to which Zeiram responds by dropping a diamond-shaped pod that spawns a bug-like monster that now is seeking the human out. Eventually, Zeiram runs into Iria, and this is where the fun starts out. Iria starts leading Zeiram into an industrial area where Iria has set up a capture point. In a display of using a specialized flare to turn the Zone’s night into day, Iria nearly captures Zeiram with her device. Though Zeiram’s noh-like face is revealed to be a tentacle as it knocks the device out of her hand and frees himself. While the two are locked in a gunfight with each other (which is revealed that Zeiram has an energy shield like Iria, thus making gunfights pointless), Teppei discovers Kamiya in that stasis device and wonders what has happened to his friend. He also hears the loud explosions from the factory from Iria and Zeiram’s battle.

Iria activates her battle armor, and we have our bounty hunter deflecting Zeiram’s shot as the two now engage in hand to hand combat. Iria lures Zeiram into the trap unit (which pops up like spikes), and the fight seems to turn toward her favor again. However, Zeriam uses another monster capsule, and a blob-like creature emerges to attack Iria. While she does slay the monster with no problem, Zeiram manages his escape from the spike trap (also while stomping on his own minion to get at Iria.) Iria finds the device and manages to seal Zeiram in the stasis device, ending the fight and now with her bounty complete.

 Teppei finds Iria after the fight, to which she explains to him about putting him that device. With Kamiya freed, she explains to the two about what’s been going on, agitated that she could be reprimanded for talking with them. Iria moves to a location where there is more space for everyone out. However, as they were about to teleport, one of Zeiram’s monsters emerges and jumps into the teleporter. Kamiya and Teppei are knocked free while Iria and the beast find themselves back in the real world. Their combat and fighting damaging every component and the transponder, which Iria gets busy fixing.

Meanwhile, back in the Zone, Zeriam’s capsule hatches while the duo began inspecting Iria’s supplies she left behind. Teppei and Kamiya start questioning the Zone’s mechanics while they continue to figure out about the weapons in the supplies. The two humorously find a large cockroach MRE. AS they began to further have fun, the two are caught off guard by Zeiram’s monster, and the two managed to kill the creatures. However, due to Teppei’s lack of gun training, the shots damage the stasis device and thus freeing Zeiram from his prison.

The two of them now find themselves stuck in the Zone, with the alien killing machine now free and about. Back in the real world, Iria heads back into the Zone only for the fuse blown out due to a misaligned transembler. To make things worse, the Zone assembly goes down. Bob laments that the two humans may be already dead, and their bounty hunting days are over because of this. Iria reassures that those two will survive so long as they remain safe.

I think that one's half baked

Back in the Zone, the two humorously hit the “wall” of the Zone as they continue to look about while Iria makes contact with the two via the radio. She gets an idea about teaching them to fight, to which Bob argues with her about it being a bad idea. Teppei and Kamiya find an abandoned car and got it working only to find Zeiram in the area. They managed to run over the monster, only for the monster to survive. They then back the car into him, crushing him in between the vehicle and a wall. Again, the creature survives and uses the noh-faced tentacle to attack Kamiya and Teppei. During the fight, Zeiram tears a good chunk of flesh out of Kamiya’s arm while Teppei stalls Zeiram for a brief moment. The two make their escape just as it pushes the car away.Back in the real world, Iria learns Zeiram’s source of power is the noh-like face on his head. This allows Zeiram to assimilate organic materials to heal wounds and create monsters. This indicates that the alien was a bio-organic weapon. This power is shown when Zeiram fails to create a monster based on Kamiya’s skin sample, to which the furious Zeiram stomps on it like a rotten watermelon.

Teppei and Kamiya begin to wonder if people will miss them as one of them began to eat the cockroach MRE. The good news is that Iria managed to find where the two are through a monitor in the real world. She sends them a spare radio for them to talk to and reassure that they’re alright. Though a major problem is that the transembler being damaged, the Zone will be destabilized and thus vanish with everything and everyone in it. Iria informs them that one way to get out involves killing Zeiram, something Kamiya argues is a bad idea. Iria apologizes and just tells them that they can get started as everyone introduces themselves. Though just as they would plan something, Kamiya and Teppei are spotted by Zeiram. The bounty hunter decides to go back into the Zone to stop Zeiram and rescue the two before the Zone disappears.

The duo continues evading Zeiram, with Kamiya throwing the whole cache of grenades at the monster. Teppei panics and flees once he sees that the monster survived the explosion as well, informing Iria about the situation. Both she and Bob argue about what to do, with Iria suggesting to transport a weapon to Teppei, something Bob warns is illegal. She then tells Teppei to look for a big silvery case in the Zone. With the information given, Teppei hops on a scooter and heads toward the destination, while Iria prepares to repair the transponder to get into the Zone as well. Zeiram spots Teppei and begins firing at the guy, destroying the scooter. Just as Teppei is attacked, Kamiya arrives in a construction vehicle and goes one on one with the beast. The fight ends with him chicken out at the last second upon seeing that it’s not phasing him.

nye-heheh..whoops, wrong franchise

Teppei is surprised to see Kamiya is alive, but now have to deal with Zeiram. Iria arrives in the nick of time and attacks Zeiram with a bazooka, destroying the creature. Though like any good horror monster, it doesn’t keep him down. The monster’s own skeleton breaks free from its body and begins to pursue the trio. Iria tells Teppei to find that weapon while stalls out the creature. Bob tells them that the weapon is on the roof of the building due to his miscalculation. This forces our heroes to reach the said weapon, all while the Spooky Scary Skeleton is right behind them, ready to kill. Iria attempts to stall the beast out while Kamiya and Teppei continue the race without her. She damages Zeiram by pinning a live grenade to his ribcage, though at the cost of her battle armor.

The duo managed to get to the roof where the weapon case is, just as Zeiram arrives to kill them. Iria rescues them again (talk about a reverse Damsel in Distress) from the beast. Iria is tossed the weapon as she fires it, destroying Zeiram’s skeletal body and leaving only its fan-like head. Again, just like before, the head comes to life, but this time Iria locks it in the stasis capsule. With only eight minutes until the Zone disappears and both men alive, Iria declares this a successful mission.

 She teleports the two back into the real world and then sends Zeiram’s head back for collection. Just as they were going to bring Iria back from the Zone, Zeiram’s head wakes up and manages to free itself from the containment unit. The head flies over, damaging more of the components, thus stranding Iria in the Zone. To make matters worse, Zeiram then transforms into a grotesque monster of flesh, tentacles (and feminine features), slowly crawling to probably to kill the two. Meanwhile, back in the Zone, Iria is impatiently waiting for Bob to teleport her back into the real world before she’s lost. Bob requests one of them to try and help him, all while they pin the monster with furniture. With time running out on both ends due to Zeiram and the now vanishing Zone, Kamiya begins to quickly repair the machine while Tepphei gets whipped by the monster. Though in the struggle, one of Zeiram’s tentacles splits the cable, thus resorting to Kamiya to become a comedic living conductor.

A happy moment

As Teppei is about to become a schoolgirl role, Iria is teleported back, and we get a slow-mo of the bounty hunter slowly shooting Zeiram again and again and again and again, to the point that someone would tell her she’s got him. Though, she does deliver the killing shot to the noh-faced tentacle. With that, Zeiram is truly dead (at last) with a shot of the sun rising to a new day as the Zone finally vanishes. Kamiya laments about wanting a nice long bath after what they’ve dealt with, as everyone thanks each other for a job well done. Iria cuts a piece of her hair for the two as a way of expressing her gratitude while Bob tells them in his way that they did well for humans. Bob then takes a picture of the trio, ending the movie with a funny and upbeat tone.

Zeiram has some great moments with some of the action and combats reminiscent of other shows like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai (which isn’t a surprise as the director himself is a stunt coordinator for several Tokusatsu films and other movies as well.) The dub of the film has some pretty good voices that some anime fans might remember. One such is the voice of Iria played by Edie Mirmam of Digimon fame with Kamiya and Tepphei voiced by talents by Robert Axelrod and Steve Bulen (Power Rangers, Transformers). However, some of it has its campiness for an early 90s film that some people might feel doesn’t age well, and the dub does feel a bit dry with Iria’s VA dub feeling like she’s trying to a calm badass, though she does exhibit some basis emotion. Though one funny thing of the series is that there is some cheeky comedy in-between some parts such as the cockroach MRE or Kamiya’s near comedic heroism in some parts that made me laugh. What I also like is how it’s got a female protagonist with comedic male roles that take a humorous jab of the Damsel in Distress trope by having the two guys start out helpless but later showing potential in defeating an alien killing machine.

In short, Zeiram, for an old early 90s film, is packed with action and comedy along with an impressive villain that doesn’t go over the top like some monsters.
I hope you enjoy this review of Zeiram and stay tuned for next Wednesday for another review of of its potential sequel…

References

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