Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1
Tokyo Ballistic War – Cyborg High School Girl VS. Cyborg Beautiful Athletes Vol.1
aka Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.1
Written by Takashi Misumi
Directed by Eiji Kamikura
When last we reviewed a Zen Pictures‘ flick (the battle-tastic Sukeban Fighter Misaki), we discovered a whole world of cheap films cranked out filled with costumed heroines who then fight each other and get tortured in long sequences. Zen Pictures hasn’t changed, but they do follow the mantra of trying something new now and again. The latest craze in Japanese cinema that makes waves in the US is the super gory films from Sushi Typhoon and their allies, so that is a fertile ground for Zen Pictures to sweep into. And they do so with the Tokyo Ballistic War films, and do so with the same tiny budgets their normal films have. I have no problems with small budgets, they can lead to great creativity and use of resources. There is a reason that art via adversity is often better, why people complain about directors selling out, why the Star Wars prequels and their milquetoast characters and uninspired digital effects are considered lazy filmmaking, especially when compared to the fly by your pants budget and real models and sets and alien costumes Original Trilogy.
Zen Pictures have upped their presence in the global cinema scene, increasing the amount of films available with English subtitles and an enlarged English section on their website. But the subtitles are a bit hacky, with the names of people or organizations changing between films or even between sentences. And these films will never be more than a niche brand, even if there are a few breakouts like Tokyo Ballistic War.
Tokyo Ballistic War follows the Sushi Typhoon framework faithfully, even aping the opening action sequence that’s taken from the middle of the film teasers of their inspiration. But they can’t escape being Zen Pictures flicks, so both parts of Tokyo Ballistic War feature the required fan service, costumes, kidnapping, torture, torture with phallic stand-ins, splitting of the film into multiple parts for more sales, masked goons, and warehouses used as sets. The effects are crude, with computer graphics that will embarrass those not used to low quality. But there is some creative blood effects, and the director is smart enough to realize he needs to spray people with geysers of blood. There is even a couple of scenes that are creative, particularly a battle of flying fists. This is an interesting hybrid picture. It will not be everyone’s cup of tea, in fact, it’s probably so demographically targeted you are born knowing if it appeals to you.
In an alternate world where the superpower United Republic of Great Japan controls the planet, Japanese high school girl athletes are suddenly breaking records with exceptional domination. The secretive and evil corporation Dainippon is involved, bad things are happening, and no goods have been upped to. Doping? Hardly, Lance Armstrong! It’s cyborg enhancement! Dainippon has created Athlete-roids, which their director Koumoto plans to sell to the army. But do not despair, the JSA – Japanese Sports Association – is on the case! The JSA cannot let this threat to the integrity of sports stand, and must now create their own cyborg schoolgirls to fight back. Thus, begun the Tokyo Ballistic Wars have!
We start out with a preview of the battle between Ai and Kozue Hara, but quickly cut back to the proper film order. Dainippon athletes are owning all the other female athletes in the nation. Yes, a mad scientist guy at Dainippon is using cyborg chicks in an effort to try to impress the army so they’ll buy his designs. Because the army cares about high school sprinting records, not the ability to kill.
Meanwhile, Ai Aosaka runs into Megumi Aosaka while out walking, and the two girls bond on their shared similar names (both girls’ first names are spelled with the same Kanji but pronounced different!) They also bond over their shared love of Kozue Hara, volleyball player extraordinaire!
Megumi invites Ai to go with her to the JSA while Megumi gets a procedure done, but the dopey administrator instead thinks Ai is the one to go under the knife for whole-body cyborg surgery. So she does. Good thing Ai is a proper young lady and doesn’t object to suddenly being put under anesthesia.
Don’t worry, people who are unhealthily attracted to the board game Operation, there are plenty of dry, almost soundless surgery scenes as Ai’s entire body is replaced with mechanical parts: arms, legs, brain, heart. The doctor also spends a long long time welding in her boob area. The only sound is the welding, whirring of drills, and the breathing of the doctor in the gas mask.
They wake Ai up and explain she’s now a fighting cyborg, model JK18. She’s a little upset. Okay, a lot upset. And accidentally shooting the wall with her finger guns. You’d think they would have learned from ED-209 and do the tests without live ammo…
Megumi manages to convince Ai to help stop the Athlete-roids, Ai reluctantly going along. Ai gets even more reluctant when target number one is Kozue Hara, her formal sports idol. Kozue transforms with giant metal hands and beats around Megumi for a while. Ai finally decides to attack defend Megumi. Kozue Hara lures her to a garage where two goons in welder’s helmets and camouflage attack, but they’re easily dealt with. Ai and Kozue now have their epic battle, part of which was previewed in the opening sequence.
The highlight is when each combatant has a hand fly off and the detached rocket powered hands battle high in the sky, slapping each other around. Kozue’s hand loses thanks to the power of V for victory. Then Kozue gets blown away to pieces. Scratch one Athlete-roid.
Ai gets more comfortable with her cyborg body and even reads the instructions. Cyborg Protip: How well your cyborg stuff works depends on your spirits. Also drink water and don’t fight and night. What are these, gremlins rules? Gondo, head of the JSA, explains that it’s because of photosynthesis, as she’s an Eco-model!
Swimmer Ami Adachi leaps from the sea and has webbed fingers-inspired metal gloves that she slaps Ai around with. Ami Adachi also has whirring blades on the bottom of her feet to slice up Ai real good and get the blood splattering. Far more blood splatters than in the first fight.
Ami also whips out her bad boob job for a bit, then shows off the drill bra…I mean, the whirring blades bra she has, which is totally original. The actress playing Ami Adachi has a good crazy face, one of the most realistic I’ve seen outside of a straight-jacket.
Megumi tries to save her, and she ends up getting ground up with blood spraying all over as well. The battle is brutal and one-sided as Ami Adachi beats the tar out of the girls. Until Ai whips out her belly button super laser and blasts a hole right through Ami Adachi’s head! This is the best most ridiculous effect in the film because it is so insane.
The energy needed for the belly laser has left Ai’s drained. She collapses, then two welder masked goons take Ai! They chain her up and their weirdo boss Koumoto promises to withhold water so she becomes weak. The film remembers to have long sequences of her chained and moaning because that is the target demographic and it is probably required for these flicks.
Koumoto says he’s going to have to rip her body apart to discover all her weapon secrets..
And we end on that sinister the end….for now!
Though it looks like the film is split into two because there will be four chapters with the four Athlete-roids, as we will see in the second part this isn’t really the case. The story goes off in a few different directions, as we shall see. Tokyo Ballistic War delivered the violent oddball battles that make these films fun, but still contain some of the creepy torture scenes that make them not. A mixed bag, but certainly not the worst super violent film I’ve seen, by far.
The Tokyo Ballistic War will continue in Tokyo Ballistic War Vol.2!
Rated 6/10 (web hands, power pack, doctor mistake-o, masked goons, leg plug, belly blaster)
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