After the likes of Takeshi Miike's Audition and Hideo Nakata's Ring, two of the most thought provoking horror films to have come out of Japan in recent years it is somewhat refreshing to take a look at Atsushi Muroga's Junk, a simple but fun zombie flick. Jumping straight into the action we see who appear to be doctors attempting to bring a young lady back from the dead in a scene reminiscent of Frankenstein and much like said story they succeed but something goes horribly wrong. In Junk as you might imagine she has developed a taste for human flesh and arisen as a zombie (albeit a rather attractive one!).
Cue our second story element, four young thieves who, after an amateur take down of a local jewellery shop arrange to meet their Yakuza buyers at the very same warehouse location where the film opens that unbeknownst to them is now overrun with zombies. Arriving early our thieves, and most prominently the headstrong female of the group Saki, have their attention aroused by strange sounds from within the warehouse and begin to investigate with devastating results. So begins the game of guessing just who will survive, and who will die, but throw into the mix some double-crossing gun happy Yakuza members and a pending military strike on the building (which in itself brings some interesting and quite amusing story elements into the fray) all compressed into just eighty minutes and what you end up with is a frenetically paced zombie stroke action fest that proves to be a highly enjoyable watch.
Like any low-budget zombie movie complaints can be made and they mostly fall under the category known as character development, or lack there of. The thieves are the main characters, and only two of them are really given what could be called character development, as Saki proves to be the love interest for Akira, and while this issue is explored to say they touch upon it lightly would be an understatement. Still, this truly is a zombie action film and to expect anything more but the lightest of character development would be foolish of you, and much can be said for the films other faults, all of which belong squarely in the 'zombie movie' hall of fame. The most obvious 'classic' irritation to pick on would be how head shots are established early on as being the only way to cease the incessant groaning of the living dead, but of course our characters fail to notice this and for the most part insist on wasting ammo on body shots which results in some deliciously gruesome effects work, although when a headshot is achieved you can be guaranteed even more satisfying results.
Another area that creates an unnecessary problem is that of the western actors involved (who make up the American Army who have some involvement with the outbreak) who, much like the western actors you often see in Hong Kong action films barely seem to make an effort. Add to that the irritation of the Japanese actors sometimes difficult to understand English and you have a flaw that could easily have been avoided but I guess they chose to use English in the film to reach the international market. Despite the faults mentioned, both those that are all too common in films of this ilk and those that are not, I can definitely say that Junk is a fun popcorn flick that fans of the genre will certainly enjoy although anyone expecting to be even slightly scared will be disappointed.
From the very beginning Junk establishes itself as a fast paced action packed ride with a fuel injected techno soundtrack to match, a main protagonist who gets sexier by the minute and action scenes that become gorier by the second (this may actually draw out some cringing from the audience depending on your disposition) while the finale is as predictable (and clichéd) as they come! A touch of humour helps too although any audience that is not willing to leave their brains (no pun intended!) at the door will find themselves increasingly annoyed rather than entertained.
The disc under scrutiny here comes from a relatively new German publisher - Asian Film Network - who for their discs have so far included English subtitles as standard. They pride themselves in releasing Uncut Asian movies but unfortunately this lands them with a German FSK-18 certificate which makes them hard to find through the larger online German retailers.
You can however purchase them at a number of online stores (Charmes.de is one such place) or direct via Rapid Eye Movies and Asian Film Network.
Please note that despite being labelled as a Region 2 disc this release is actually Region 0.
Presented in Non-Anamorphic 1:85:1 the print sourced for this recent film is as you would expect, in near pristine condition with no apparent defects making themselves seen. Colour reproduction is generally very good with the graphic shots of blood and guts looking particularly satisfying, and for the most part despite the lack of anamorphic enhancement the level of detail on display is acceptable but never remarkable. Where the disc is a let down would be the number of artefacts noticeable onscreen, the main culprit being digital smearing on any fast moving action scenes. Screaming out for Anamorphic enhancement and better digital compression Junk is an otherwise acceptable release for a none-too-easy to find title.
Also worth pointing out is that due to the films use of both Japanese and English language the print sourced contains burnt in Japanese subtitles for the English portions of the film and while not exactly distracting due to being no larger than your typical subtitles, they are obviously noticeable.
The Asian Film Network have provided us with the original Japanese language track in Dolby Digital 2.0 Pro-Logic Surround and despite the obvious inferiority of this sound format to the more preferred 5.1 alternatives this is a surprisingly decent sound experience. Dialogue is always clean, while the adrenaline pumping soundtrack takes over both your front and rear speakers and we are even treated to some well-positioned surround effects!
Both English and German subtitles are provided in an easy to read yellow font that is sadly not compatible with Widescreen Television sets placed in Zoom mode (unless your set is fully configurable). Despite this minor annoyance I am happy to report that the English subtitles are always clear, with accurate spelling and grammar, although the English speaking sections of the film are not subtitled which will be a disappointment to the Hard of Hearing and those of us who have problems understanding the often muffled dialogue of the Japanese actors. The German subtitles are present for both the Japanese and English dialogue sections of the film.
Sadly there are very little extra features to speak of with not even an original Theatrical Trailer insight. What you will find however is a brief but high quality animated photo gallery that focuses mainly on the gorier side of Junk while a Theatrical Trailer for another Japanese release via the Asian Film Network in the form of Score - The Big Fight is also present.
For a film that sets out to provide you with zombies, action and gore Junk more than delivers so fans of the genre should find much to enjoy here while this DVD from the Asian Film Network is a good, but not great effort.
Last updated: 15/05/2018 11:31:05