Based on Kengo Hanazawa’s manga, the Japanese film I AM A HERO (2015) brings the zombie apocalypse full blast to Japan. Like TRAIN TO BUSAN, it shows what can be accomplished if you tell a story about people with zombies in it rather than the other way around.
Hideo Suzuki is a manga artist who struggles with being an ordinary man telling stories about ordinary people, which has stalled his career aspirations. His name means “hero,” though he is that in name only. When a new pathogen turns people into mindless cannibals, he always does the right thing but never the heroic thing we want and need him to do. Teaming up with a young woman, he ends up fleeing to find a compound being held by a group of survivors seething with its own power struggle. At the end, Hideo will face his ultimate test to become a hero in deed as well as name.
The movie is a lot of fun, punched up with some excellent action sequences, dark comedy, and a cathartic finish. The zombies are pretty standard walkers though capable of sudden manic bursts of speed, enhanced with sickening popping sounds as they change, black veins, milky eyeballs, weird contortions, and getting stuck on a key idea in their lives they repeat over and over like a stuck record. One zombie was a pole-vaulting athlete, who does some really creepy stuff in the film.
Overall, I AM HERO is a good movie and a great zombie movie. I give it a B+. Highly recommended for zombie fans.