Over the past decade or so, Japan’s leading comedy talent agency, Yoshimoto Kogyō, has been making a concerted effort to further expand its empire into filmmaking. This has led to many of its leading comedians directing films. Some, like Hitoshi Matsumoto, have been quite successful. The funnyman/filmmaker directed the critically acclaimed Big Man Japan (2007), Scabbard Samurai (2011), and R100 (2013). Others, like Hiroshi Shinagawa of the popular stand-up duo Shinagawa Shōji, are less so.
Making his directorial debut with the fair delinquent/gangster romp Drop (2009), Shinagawa then put together Manzai Gang (2011), and the whodunit/comedy One Third (2014). He now comes forth with the half-zombie action, half-comedy Z Island. Gang leader Munakata (Sho Aikawa) is involved in a shootout and goes to prison for ten years while his loyal underling Takashi (Shingo Tsurumi) takes care of things. When Munakata is released, Takashi’s daughter runs away to a small island. The gangsters, with underlings and Takashi’s ex-wife, follow.
On the island are further baddies, and a zombie plague. You get the idea. The comedy sputters, and the zombie schlock has been done to death, so it’s hard to watch. Overall, this is a misfire, with an occasional chuckle. English title: Deadman Inferno. (108 min)