Stephen reviews: Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead (2007)

Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead [女子競泳反乱軍 Joshikyôei hanrangun] (2007)
AKA Undead Pool, Inglorious Zombie Hunters, The Girls Rebel Force of Competitive Swimmers

Starring Sasa Handa, Yuria Hidaka, Ayumu Tokito, Hiromitsu Kiba, Kiyo Yoshizawa, Hidetomo Nishidia, Sakae Yamazaki

Directed by Koji Kawano


I approached this film with a bit of trepidation. Anything with a title like Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead has to be either really awful or really fantastic. And things were looking pretty worrisome there at the start. But a few minutes in, a wonderfully awkward stabbing left me giggling and hopeful for the future of the film.

Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead is pretty much what you would expect from the name. There are lots of zombies, gore, and naked ladies to go around. If you were expecting something thoughtful and enlightening, I think you need a better grasp of the English language. Or the Japanese language as the case may be. But even though the title is revealing as to the nature of the film, it’s not all that accurate to the content. The swim team doesn’t do much of anything in this film, and most of what they do do is a little underwhelming. Details are sparse, but maybe the translation of the title is a bit off as there are a variety of different titles for the film.

The action scenes mostly revolve around a new girl in school named Aki who hasn’t even joined the swim team. Aki is a bit of a loner, but she gets caught up with a swim team member who has the exact same birthmark and mole as Aki. Then the zombie apocalypse starts up, and they find that the swim team members are the only people who haven’t become zombies. So they have an indulgent sex scene before trying to fight their way to freedom. The film is equal parts randomly absurd action and randomly absurd sex.

And I do mean absurd. When the math teacher starts chopping people limb from limb with a pair of rulers I was laughing and having a good time. When he busted out a torch and started a fire-breathing routine, I just didn’t know what to think any more. The movie frequently pulls out random oddities that I never would have expected, and I loved it every time. The silly, anything goes attitude of the movie had me hooked.

It also helps that the Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead is much shorter than its title. At less than an hour and a half it keeps moving at a pretty good clip. The plot never lingers over anything but its sex scenes. There’s no abundance of exposition or sitting around getting to know the cast. No belaboring the obvious or sitting around thinking about what’s going on. It’s just solid action, either violent or sexual, once the ball gets rolling.

Also, the narrative structure is pretty well done considering the movie is obviously just an exploitation flick. It has enough twists to keep things interesting, and I actually wound up just a little bit attached to the characters and their struggles. Maybe it’s just because I wasn’t expecting anything even halfway good, or maybe it’s just because the film has no sense of foreshadowing, but I was actually surprised by some of the plot twists at the end.

Something I was rather worried about in a film from 2007 was the special effects. I can’t say they’re all that great looking, but my fear of tons of CG was thankfully unrealized. The film uses a lot of physical effects, which is always more entertaining than CG blood spray, even if it is a bit cheap looking here. But what of that? I didn’t pop this movie in the DVD player to see some Oscar-winning effects work. No, I came here for crazy violence and unexpected weirdness, and that’s exactly what I got.

So despite my worries, Attack Girls’ Swim Team Vs. the Undead charmed me with its exuberance and spontaneity. There really isn’t much to say. If you’re in the mood for some sleazy B-movie madness, it just might charm you as well.

 

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