Dir: Ryuhei Kitamura
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi
, Hideo Sakaki, Chieko Misaka, Kenji Matsuda
"Gun Action, Kung-Fu, Sword Action, Wire Stunts, Living Dead are just some of the things you can be expecting.... For the greatest dark hero has just been born from sizzling heat of Hell itself." So says the Japanese production company's site, and you won't catch me arguing, for the most enjoyable and fast-paced movie of the year mixes horror, SF and martial-arts genres to great effect. An escaped convict finds himself in a forest where the dead won't stay down, and everyone wants his head - the police, Yakuza mobsters, and worst of all, the guy who knows what's going on. The result is two hours of utter insanity that is probably in the top ten goriest movies of all time, not least for a sublime moment where...no, I won't spoil it for you, let's just say it takes "eyeball violence" to an entirely new level. If this was simply relentless splatter, it'd be only another entry in Lucio Fulci's filmography. But there's some rather impressive martial arts and swordplay, plus a whole host of interesting characters, including Japanese versions of Christopher Walken and Jeffrey Combs. For its budget - a mere $400,000 - this is phenomenal, and it deserves to be up there with the early works of Raimi and Jackson. If The One does the trans-temporal martial-arts thing half as well, I'll be content. After the "disappointments" which were The Brotherhood and Kolobos, my faith in Chris's horror tastes are fully restored.