Wednesday Media Review/Thursday Halloween Special: Zeiram 2

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

Heya, it’s your boy, Choujin.
 I understand that this review is late, but your boy has gotten back on the saddle for job hunting; thus, your boy may be delayed on today’s media review. However, I realized that tomorrow’s Halloween, so I thought why not a good time to do the review on another movie, a sequel to the film I reviewed a week ago. Made by Keita Amemiya, his sequel Zeiram 2, is an impressive piece of work from Japan that is action-packed with some comedy. So let’s have a look at what this sequel is and what It can provide.

The movie starts in a desert world, in which two aliens are field-testing a new weapon on some androids. The machine shows off their entire mechanical armaments and toys as the testers are impressed by the results. They prepare to send it to none other than Iria, who is on Earth on an assignment. The vault opens, and it’s shown that the new weapon is none other than Zeiram, who survived his last encounter. Eventually, through some intro credits, we get to see the new and improved Zeiram being built up. Better, Stronger, faster.

Then we return to Earth, where Kamiya and Teppei are preparing for Teppei’s wedding, Kamiya giving his apologies about not attending his friend’s wedding. Meanwhile, on a beach not too far from the area, Iria and a new cocky compatriot named Fujikuro managed to snag an item called the Kamarite from an alien shaman and his thugs. It’s been revealed that Iria’s been using Earth as a base for over three years since the film. It’s revealed that Kamarite was an ancient transport device that can fetch a few pennies, according to Fujikuro. Bob informs them of their next mission while arguing with Fujikuro. Teppei gets a glimpse of Iria while he was waiting for some wedding preparations and thus went searching for her. Suddenly, as Iria leaves for a mission, Fujikuro decides to sabotage the whole thing to strand Iria while he’d run off with the Kammarite only to find out that Iria took the device with her. With the device not in its place, Fujikuro decides to kidnap Teppei and use him as a driver to get to Iria.

Kamiya began testing his new camera (as he’s shown to be a bit of a creeper) while he chats with a worker about some typical business stuff. He managed to call Teppei and ask, only to being asked to go to the Kamiyama building (something of a way to hint about his situation.)
Iria, relaxing next to a dog, is waiting for the supposed unit to arrive for her mission while Kamiya arrives to notice Iria’s base damaged from Fujikuro’s attack as his old friend Bob greets him. Once they arrive at their destination, Fujikuro drags Teppei out to continue their hunt for Iria. Iria runs into the shaman from before as he brings in a whole army of goons to kill Iria. Fujikuro and Teppei watch from a distance as the douchebag notices the Kamarite before taking Teppei away. Kamiya is repairing Bob and the teleporter, while back at the fray, Iria pulls a Mary Poppins and is waiting for Bob to teleport her back home (only to find out she can’t). Though just as she’s about to be attacked, the new Zeiram arrives on the scene, which commences in killing all the criminals and thugs with no hesitation. Bob and Kamiya are able to get in contact with Iria, just as they got a feed of the aftermath.

The group got a glimpse of the new and improved Zeiram while Iria punches the face out of anger and frustration. Bob reassures Iria that the machine was there to save and protect her, while Iria explains that some of the criminals killed were people they knew. Bob tells her that they couldn’t teleport the machine out, while Fujikuro arrives to mock her about Teppei (who he left in the car handcuffed and with a ticking grenade) The scumbag threatens Iria to drop all her weapons but his cowardice as he threatens to blow him up unless she hands the Kamarite over toward him. Iria declines and beats the tar out of him Back at the shrine, the shaman barely survived the ordeal as he walks up toward the robotic creature and ends up spitting up blood and waking up the core of Zeiram. Now free of any shackles, the new Zeiram now starts to create its Zone, trapping everyone in the area in a Zone and began to start hunting the group. Fujikuro freaks out and runs into a zone wall, to which Bob explains to Iria about what happened. Kamiya and Bob lose track of them, signaling that this Zone is different than his.

With the battlefield set, Iria and Fujikuro are trying their best to prepare traps and ambushes to deal with the new Zeiram while Teppei is confused. Zeiram ambushes the two investigators, showing off his super-speed as he steals Fujikuro’s gun, showing off its ability to transform the weapon into something it can use. Iria leads Zeiram to one of her landmines and blows it up, only for its armor to be damaged and showing off its second form: a fox/rabbit form. The creature then damages Iria and kills a dog that wandered into the area. Zeiram then attacks, only for Iria to also show off that she’s got some new toys too as they go toe to toe with melee combat, missiles, and explosions galore. Including a scene of her kicking an explosive shell away (something reminiscent of the first movie). During the fight, Iria hits one of Zeiram’s chest section, weakening his shield. Meanwhile, Fujikuro runs off with the Kamarite that dropped only to lose the device again during the fight. Teppei ends up wandering into the battlefield and finds the Kamarite that Fujikuro dropped.

The fight between Zeiram and Iria starts to become a war of attrition as both’s shields are down. Zeiram grabs Iria and using that opportunity to destroy his shield and literally disarm her opposition. In one battle over a building, Iria plunges a blade into Zeiram’s head. The blade pins the beast to the side of the building and defeats him for now. Fujikura loses contact with the radio while Bob informs Iria to search for Teppei so they can get out. Teppei contacts Iria through radio and finds Kamiya on the radio, providing a happy reunion for the three as they discuss where to rally in order to reunite. However, she reminds them that they’re in a Zone. Iria diffuses a mild argument between Teppei and Kamiya, suggesting that Teppei will be okay and that she’d never leave friends down and cheerfully tells them she’ll buy them a drink.

Back at the now fallen Zeiram, a robot wasp missile erupts from the discarded hand and is heading toward Teppei. Iria latches onto the missile as she’s being dragged by the rocket on its way. She saves the day by throwing herself and the rocket into a chamber, though the rocket is trying to chew its way through a wall. Teppei finds Iria trapped in the room, which Kamiya informs him of how to restore power back to the building.
Night arrives as Zeiram’s core wakes up and frees itself from the blade impaling its head. Then the xenomorph rip-off tries to wake up the machine through a few taps to the face then commences to producing an egg that creates a dog/monster hybrid from the slain pooch. Zeiram sends the monster off to search for its targets while it stands by and waits for the robot to finally wake itself up. Back at the building, Teppei finds the breaker box as he follows Kamiya’s advice on how to repair the device. Now with the machine online and Iria’s freedom set up, he forgets one thing. The jerk Fujikuro who holds him hostage. Meanwhile, the box breaks, and Iria’s freedom is stalled out (all while the missile is continuing to eat a hole through the wall in order to get to Teppei on the other side.

As Zeiramis slowly repairing itself, Teppei takes advantage of Fujikuro’s confusion and tries to get free only for Teppei to lose the Kamarite he had on his body. In the fight, Teppei accidentally trips a discarded landmine, to which Fujikuro runs off. The bad news keeps coming as the missile is boring through a wall to reach its target, and the room is a trash compactor, ready to crush Iria. To finally add a cherry on this lousy news sundae, Zeiram is fully repaired and wakes up. Fearful of his friend’s demise, Kamiya decides (in a humorous suit up montage) to go into the Zone and disarm the bomb. He comes in the nick of time and manages to save Teppei from the landmine under his foot and frees him from his bondage. They then return to save Iria in the nick of time by disarming the missile and allowing her to escape being an Investigator Pancake. The group is relieved to know she’s alright and not harmed. Kamiya hands Iria a good luck charm through the hole in the wall. Though as the good feelings were gone quickly when the missile escapes containment and chases them out. Iria destroys the missile, but not before blasting the two out of range of communications. Bob informs them that Iria is looking for them and that once together, they must use the transport unit to escape. However, they realized that Fujikuro had stolen the item.

In a Humorous twist, Bob activates the device, causing him to drop the Karmarite and teleported straight into a digital holding cell. (Do not pass go, do not collect the Kamarite). The bad news is that Fujikuro used the last teleporter unit and that the group needs a way to escape the Zone. Iria suggests using the Karmarite as a key to get out of the Zone, which is found on the top of the great Karnite sat on top of the Daikannon statue.
Teppei and Kamiya have a heart-filled chat, in which Kamiya explained that he couldn’t make it to his friend’s wedding due to his own commitment to his wedding anniversary with his ex-wife. Teppei reassures Kamiya that he’ll make a good husband. Iria contacts them and thus explains that they’ll meet up at the statue. However, they then notice the now reactivated Zeiram, and the two make a very hasty retreat from the monster. They eventually make their way to the statue, evading the monster up several flights of stairs. They make a near escape from the creature just as Iria arrives. Iria stalls out the beast while Iria goes round two with Zeiram. Teppei and Kamiya race up to a room full of smaller statues as they learn from Bob that the Kamarite is stuck outside on a ledge. The two managed to find the item. During the fight, Zeiram and Iria are blasted out of the statue. Zeiram activates his last trump card by destabilizing the Zone (talk about a sore loser). Then he goes full batman by sprouting wings and flies to the top of the temple. Kamiya helps Teppei up onto the ledge while keeping in possession of the Kamarite. Suddenly, they’re greeted by the now winged Zeiram and rescued again by Iria and her Mary Poppins straw umbrella. However, they soon run into the dog monster hybrid. Iria clips Zeiram’s wings with a shower bomb while the Teppei managed to kill the creature by killing the monster. Kamiya’s impressed by Teppei’s bravery to which Teppei humeriously stated that ‘he’ll be a daddy soon.”

Back inside the room, Teppei and Kamiya activate the Karmarite, which was simple enough. However, Zeiram arrives again and commences to knocking all the statues about and creating a big mess. The two managed to stall out Zeiram and try and make their escape. Iria arrives at the nick of time and commences her fight, all while Kamia and Teppei start searching for the Karmarite; they dropped amongst the statues, all while the Zone starts to dissolve around them slowly. Zeiram knocks Iria out of the arena, and the two begin to fight desperately.

Time is not on their side as Iria pulls a last-ditch gambit by blowing herself up along with Zeiram just as Kamia and Teppei find the Karmarite. They suddenly notice an explosion where Iria and Zeiram were. Despite that explosion, Zeiram still is alive as he crawls after the two, wanting to kill them. Iria also survives the blast as she commences to blasting the robotic monstrosity. The field reaching its limit as everything around them starts falling apart. Iria delivers the killing blow on the machine, as the two prepare their escape. Teppei throws a fresh clip of ammo toward Iria, which allows her to kill the core like last time. They activate the device at the last second and are pulled back from the Zone and into the real world. Their happiness is cut short as they suddenly found that Iria was stuck in the teleporter along with Zeiram. Bob explains that he’s not familiar with the tech they used and that they’re lucky they were able to be reformed and that they are stuck on a two switch. Bob is telling them to trust their instincts in rescuing Iria, a method that the two feel is a callous order to make.

Though just as they thought that all hope is lost, a bright light illuminates one of the switches. Taking their gut instinct, they go for this switch. Suddenly, Zeiram pulls one last attempt into reconstructing itself into the real world. Though just as the monster is about to win, the creature’s visage explodes in a massive bright (and somewhat Space Odessy-like montage). Iria once again emerges to save the day and kills the monster once and for all. The sun rises, and birds chirp while everyone is happy that Zeiram has been totally destroyed once and for all. Teppei and Kamiya bought bust up laughing while Iria responds with a smile and a “hi guys, great to see you.” Ending the film with a happy Iria smiling.

What does Zeiram 2 bring to the table? Well, it does have a better budget than the last time, and some of the fights are as catching. However, though the budget is there, the monstrous transformations seen in the first Zeiram aren’t there anymore. The only change you see is between it; it’s robot fox form and the giant skull form. No giant skeleton or monster form, just the forms in only shown in the movie, and that are that. Another issue is the movie does feel like a shot by shot similarity to the first film with maybe a few deviations to the story, but it does feel familiar in some moments. Another thing I’ve noticed and liked to an extent was the voice acting. Some of the new voice actors such as Dave Mallow (who voices Bob in the sequel) and Wendee Lee (the unique voice of Iria who replaces Edie Mirmam) do add some personality and a better sound than some of the group thought it’s a shame that some of the original cast from the first film couldn’t reprise their voice roles. Though on the plus side, the new voice actors do provide some unique personality to characters not known. Especially from some of the new voice actors that have become prominent in the anime voice acting community.

With that done, that’s Zeiram 2, the sequel and final movie in the Zeiram duology. There was an OVA prequel called Iria: Zeiram the Animation, which explains the origin story of Iria and how she became a bounty hunter. However that’s another story for another time, so here’s your boy wishing you all a Happy Halloween 🙂

Sources

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