Hell-Driver, the latest movie from Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police), answers a question which I was afraid to ask myself:
Can excessive amounts of onscreen violence ever get boring?
The answer - yes, when a movie is just under two hours long and it contains very little else other than frankly ludicrous amounts of fake blood jet spraying everywhere, it does get boring.
Yes sadly, I am either beginning to show my age - a ripe old 29 - or simply put this was 27 minutes too much. ‘Hell Driver’ is a movie which never seems to quite get to the pickup line.
Nishimura’s previous movies ‘Tokyo Gore police’, ‘Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl’ and ‘Mutant Girls squad’ have all shared one common thing; they are ridiculously violent and they are completely bonkers. Whilst the others were a little hit or miss, specifically VG vs FG which was pretty much just shit, ‘Tokyo Gore Police’ hit the mark coupling a good futuristic cyber punk story together with some imaginative set pieces, which although completely fucked up, still sat well within the surreal context of the movie. The plot of ‘Hell Driver’, which sets itself in a future Japan, separated by a giant wall constructed to keep the zombie infected north away from the uninfected south, and a crack team sent to eliminate the evil Zombie leader of the plague seemed to show an equal potential.
The tumours are back, this time a Y-shaped tumour, which if ingested by an uninfected can lead to some comic head explosions and so are the bizarre human mechanical hybrids - zombie car and zombie planes anyone?! The lead characters are the usual high kicking, sword wielding typesand of course the bad guys are eccentric uber evil types, in fact in this movie they are actually Japanese fascists! Sadly, despite this is really where the similarities stop and overall it didn’t live up to any of the standards set by its predecessor.
The plot is bloated. Like an obese man with an air compressor up his arsehole, it just keeps getting in the way. Let’s be honest the Japanese seldom do anything without a subplot or ulterior context, however, in this case, the overarching political satire is not only obvious, its continually expressed, then explained, then overacted in a series of overlong ‘story telling’ scenes which are frankly too boring to ever want to revisit.
It can’t be ignored that ‘Hell Driver’ is excessively bloody. All the usual set pieces are here, and whilst it’s true, some scenes amount to nothing more than just choreographed fighting there are some truly great moments – the zombie mother who uses her own baby as a weapon being one. The gore effects are great, but perhaps in this one the reliance on using the same effects over and over again (I mean once you’ve seen one severed head mortar bomb, you’ve seen them all) did show that perhaps the team were running out of ideas.
Overall I don’t really see any point in progressing any further in my critique. By brash writing style on this movie is a reflection of my overall impression of it; ‘Hell Driver’ lacks depth and attention to detail that it needed to pull off this sort of splatter mayhem convincingly. I’ve said it already and I feel it is apt to repeat it that ‘Hell Driver’ is very very bloody, and if this is all you want from it you won’t be disappointed, but it comes at a cost. The scenes in-between are too long and boring that the enjoyment factor diminishes before the movies credits roll; admittedly that is actually 40 minutes into the movie but still!
Here’s hoping Nishimura smokes a whole load of what he used to and returns with a film worthy of his cult status.