Review: Wild Zero


Rock n’ roll can save the world—or at least Japanese garage punk legends Guitar Wolf can in Wild Zero, director Tetsuro Takeuchi’s 2000 debut about zombies, bikes, and love on the run. Legend has it the director begged the real life übercool rockers to appear in his film, but they agreed only on the condition that they be allowed to play themselves. Our young protagonist Ace (Masahi Endô) idolizes Guitar Wolf, from their requisite leather jackets to their immaculately greased pompadours, and so will you after you see them performing in an early concert scene replete with a microphone that shoots flames whenever frontman Seiji sings. After Ace inadvertently saves Seiji’s life, the band makes the unlikely hero a “rock n’ roll blood brother” and gives him a magical whistle(!) that will summon the Wolf if he’s ever in trouble. That’s lucky for Ace, because UFOs have just invaded Earth, somehow causing the dead to rise from their graves with an insatiable hunger for grey matter. Somehow in the middle of all this mayhem, Ace manages to find love, but his girlfriend Tobio turns out to be, er, more than meets the eye—a problem that is easily overcome through Guitar Wolf’s unironic message of tolerance and self-acceptance. The aliens and zombies, however, are handled a bit more aggressively, and with red corn syrup and squibs a plenty. Stapling together genre elements from all over the place, Wild Zero barely stops for air after each manic set piece before launching into the next, kind of like a Guitar Wolf concert.


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January 2009
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