Shinsedai Cinema Festival – Zero Man vs. the Half-Virgin Review (Kirk Haviland)

Shinsedai Film Festival 2012 (Toronto)

Zero Man vs. the Half-Virgin

Starring Chihiro Itakura, Miho Hoshino, Hiroshi Yamamoto, Hideo Tsubota, Don Brown and Sakichi Sato

Written and Directed by Sakichi Sato

Preceeded by Dark on Dark

Directed by Makato Ohtake

Sakichi Sato is a master of oddball cinema. The mastermind behind the scripts for Takeshi Miike’s Ichi the Killer and Gozu and writer/director of his own Tokyo Zombie; Sakichi has shown that no subject is too taboo or bizarre for him to tackle. So naturally a story where a policeman can see numbers on people’s foreheads, but only when his is sporting a full erection, is something that should surprise none of Sato’s fans.

First some words on the odd and entertaining short film Dark on Dark. The film starts a simple scheme, as a man and enormously endowed woman gain money by charging money to men who subsequently have one of the woman’s breasts placed on their heads. Bald men are objects of jealousy as they “get skin on skin contact” and the men squeal delight. But this comedy also features a fight between school girls and a faction of what appears to be transvestites and a randy hot tub sequence amongst its goofiness. A very fun watch and perfect primer for the feature following it.

Zero Man begins when Sakuragi wakes up with total amnesia in a community police outpost, he’s also in uniform. When his partner returns he asks him a myriad of questions in an effort to discover who he truly is. Still hazy on his whereabouts and history Sakuragi discovers his amnesia has also come with another interesting twist, when he is erect and aroused he sees numbers on people’s foreheads. What do the numbers mean? Is the zero emblazoned on his forehead a reference to his virginity, if so then his partner has had 3 partners which makes sense but what about the American tourist with a 55 on his forehead? How about the young kid running around with a 13, or the mysterious woman who comes and stares at Sakuragi every day who has a 0.5? In an effort to discover the answers for all these questions Sakuragi embarks on a series of misadventures, mostly with his hand firmly down his pants, that lead to a startling discovery and near death situations along the way to his ultimate answer.

Sakichi Sato manages to imbue his crazy, insane dark comedy with a lot of laughs and some endearing performances, especially from our lead. The premise does lose some steam by the end of the movie, but the true revelation of the meaning of the numbers pulls the film together. The female lead does a fine job with what turns into a very challenging role by the time we find out everything. Long in parts, the film could have been edited a little more tightly. Sato still manages to put forth an entertaining experience.

Not of the level of his previous work, Zero Man does manage to work more than it doesn’t. Zero Man vs. the Half Virgin is a mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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