“I Am a Hero” (2015)
Film is reviewed from the 2016 SXSW Film Festival screening.
Hideo (Yô Ôizumi) is an artist who works on Japanese-style comic books called Manga. He once had a promising future, with a girlfriend and an award for “newcomer of the year” from his employer. While others have gotten promotions or their own series, Hideo is toiling on inking other people’s work and wishing for some sort of break. He dreams of being a big artist with his own series, but everything he pitches gets rejected by his boss. His co-workers don’t like him, and he has a tendency to stare off into space, fantasizing about making it big. His home life isn’t much better than his work. His girlfriend has been waiting for 15 years for Hideo to make something of his life and has become more and more frustrated with him, even to the point of blaming him for wasting her youth. She finally hits a breaking point, throws out his prized skeet shotgun and tells him that they are over. All Hideo can do is apologize for his failings and leave with his tail between his legs.
After spending a night on the streets, having been locked out of his apartment by his girlfriend, he heads for the office. Upon his arrival, the office is a mess. A TV blares a report about a virus that is spreading throughout the population, along with multiple acts of violence that are breaking out all over the country. He finds one of his fellow workers covered in blood, and there are bodies with bashed in heads all over the place. His co-worker informs Hideo that he had to kill the other workers because they got sick and attacked him. Just then, their boss stumbles in, looking horrible and muttering about a deadline. Suddenly his boss attacks Hideo and his friend, leaving the friend to bash the head of their manager into a bloody pulp. Suddenly the fellow worker becomes sick, and Hideo is then attacked. Hideo is able to find the strength to fend off his attacker, and ultimately kill his sick co-worker.
After a harrowing trip through the streets, as mass panic is happening, Hideo finally makes it home. He pleads to his girlfriend to open the door but she remains silent. He looks through the mail door slot to see his girlfriend lying on their bed. She suddenly starts to convulse and then falls to the floor, at which point his girlfriend slowly moves across the room to the front door. Upon opening she suddenly attacks Hideo, and in this moment he is in the ultimate fight for his life. Is this the point that Hideo becomes the man he always thought he could be or will he die trying to become a hero?
“I Am a Hero” is from the creative and imaginative mind of filmmaker Shinsuke Sato, who based the film on a popular Manga series. The film is funny, fast moving and has incredible action sequences that make this a perfect film for a midnight movie setting, such as the one I attended at SXW. As the film went along, the crowd (and myself) got more and more vocal on cheering on Hideo in his adventure and laughing at the numerous comedic parts in the film.
Hideo is an unlikely hero, though he fantasizes that he is, and more often than not, he cannot pull the trigger (literally in most cases during the film he fails to shoot his shotgun at really important times). All Hideo wants in life is to be a man of action and courage, but he is more a man of indecision, often freezing when he should act. Yo Ôizumi is pitch-perfect as the ineffective Hideo. He seems to show every emotion broadly on his face, so we are aware of what he is thinking without having to have it explain it to the audience.
The reason that this film is a blast to watch are the zombies. The zombies keep some of the characteristics of who they were when they were alive. A gifted athlete is still capable of performing fantastic feats as a zombie. Someone who like to shop, in zombie form, will attempt to enter stores with a determined purpose. The zombies can also talk, so very often they are muttering phrases that they often said while they alive, like a zombie barista to kill Hideo while also trying to take his order.
“I Am a Hero” is a brilliant, action-packed film that will make any zombie lover want to see this film over and over again, hoping that if the zombie apocalypses happens, we can also say “I Am a Hero.” My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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