Ahhh, seeing as it's been some years since we've had some groovy Euro zombie action (Dellamorte aside being the last of any note), it seems as though the Asian horror scene looks to be the place that's taken on the mantle of the zombie movie genre (with films like 'Versus', 'Bio-Zombie', 'Bio-Cops' et al). Whether or not the rise in interest in videogames like the 'Resident Evil' series is to blame for this or not is of no great consequence as I love the whole zombie movie genre and welcome any additions to this particular scene. For some time I had been hearing some nice word of mouth about the latest addition to the collection in the form of a movie called 'Junk', for some time it had only been generally available one of those rare bootleg video tapes so when new company Asian Film Network announced that this would be their debut release my pre-order was in for a copy straight away!
As is the case with many zombie films (more so the latest generation) the plot is blatantly simple (well I suppose they want to get any story out the way to concentrate on the flesh eating fun!) 'Junk' opens with a sloppy raid on a jeweller's store by four wannabe crooks. They do successfully get their loot but not without carelessly killing a female shop assistant. Fleeing town they arrange to meet up (at a disused warehouse) with a local Yakuza gang to offload the stolen goods in exchange for hard cash, but the Yakuza gang have a different plan of action in mind!
Meanwhile, we discover that the army has been experimenting in reviving the corpses of the dead (using a new experimental drug called 'DNX') but the experiments go horribly wrong with the scientist and his team being violently slaughtered by one of their undead creations. As you would expect, the army want to make sure their failed experiments are hidden from discovery so plot to obliterate any evidence of their misdemeanours by destroying the out of town warehouse building where the now encompassing zombies are in control - the same building where the aforementioned unsuspecting criminals are about to meet!
Yes, it's smiles all round for gore fans as you know where this is going eh? Sprawling warehouse full of flesh hungry zombies plus gun toting criminals equals explosive bloody fun! And don't expect much more than that as this is pretty much all you get, though I for one am certainly not complaining! 'Junk' rolls along at a nice speedy pace and it's not long before we get down to the gory action, and some of the gore scenes will indeed please fans of the genre but at times you may feel you've seen it all before.
The only small grievance I have with many horror films of late has been the complete lack of originality with most choosing to either spoof or 'tip their hat' to earlier renowned successes. Just look at films like 'Bio-Zombie', 'Dead Hate the Living' etc that whilst being fun flicks choose to take the route of 'paying homage' to the likes of Fulci and Romero and 'Junk' really is no different in its way. The first twenty minutes of the film plays like a low rent take on 'Reservoir Dogs' whilst the zombie element has Fulci fan written all over it. Not that this is a bad thing by any means but sometimes I do wish that a bit more effort was made on originality in scripts were made. 'Wild Zero' is an exception to this rule having one of the wildest most original scripts seen in quite some time (chase this one down if you haven't yet seen it!)
That said, zombie film fans (like myself) will delight in having this film in their collection as it delivers the goods in trumps when it comes to zombie fun and has some refreshing gore effects set-pieces that will make you whoop with delight (the lead zombie female is particularly impressive).
Now how about this debut disc from Asian Film Network, the widescreen film print itself is clear, strong and colourful throughout but not always perfect. Print fetishists will no doubt pick up on the occasional image smearing in dark scenes which resembles a lacking NTSC to PAL transfer but the more forgiving among you won't really care as in the main things are pretty cool. The 2-channel stereo does its job fine with decent enough audio and the optional subtitles are clear and unintrusive throughout also. On the other hand though, the film print contains burnt on Japanese subtitles which appear whenever any onscreen character speaks in english and it would have been great if they could have found an unsubtitled print for this release (with the already available options) as it can be at times slightly annoying.
There's not much in the way of extras here either with only a stills gallery selection and a short teaser trailer for 'Score 2' on show (it would have been cool to have at least had a 'Junk' trailer on there eh?) That said though, the disc in general is a nice presentation and obviously some care has been put into it (with nice animated menu screens and packaging) so perhaps AFN where doing the best with what they had to work with.
At the end of the day there really shouldn't be much for me to say here as if you've got an interest in zombie movies (especially if you've already got the aforementioned films like 'Versus', 'Wild Zero' and 'Bio-Zombie') then you really should already have this one in your collection? If not then go pick it up! Not the most original of films but how many are these days? Zombies and gore! What more could you ask for! Check it out!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by Asian Film Network|
|Not Rated - Region 2 (PAL)|
|Ratio - Widescreen|
|Audio - Dolby Stereo Japanese (optional English/German subtitles)|
|Trailer for 'Score 2', Stills Gallery|