The zombie-movie market may be saturated, but Shinsuke Sato's grisly manga adaptation is a distinctly lively undead tale.

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There’s no mistaking that Japanese helmer Shinsuke Sato’s Midnight Madness-ready title “I Am A Hero” is an adaptation of a manga — specifically, Kengo Hanazawa’s comic of the same name. Sakhổng lồ has never strayed far from the form: His directorial CV is a danh mục of live-action and animated feature-length film versions of popular manga titles, & his cinematic style favors angles and framing that feel directly lifted from the page & brought crisply to life.

That could suggest a lack of dynamism in the final result, or a slavish aestheticization of the image — as in the Hollywood adaptations of “Sin City” or “The Spirit,” for example. But Sato does not just get the style of his film from the graphic tradition of its source material. He and co-writer Akiko Nogi also underst& the other secret of the medium’s massive popularity: the addictive, page-turning genre thrills it can deliver. And so “I Am A Hero” careens along in a giddy, bloodsoaked, immensely pleasurable rush, propelled by an enthusiasm as infectious as a bite from the undead, that makes even the hoariest beats of the plot seem dipped in bright, bloody newness. The genre is beyond oversubscribed now, but you get the ebullient sense that everyone involved with “I Am A Hero” approached it like it wasn’t just the first zombie movie to lớn be made in Japan, but lượt thích it was the first one ever, ever.

It’s not that the movie zombie was ever exactly a pretty thing, but a standard look has evolved along the lines of the rotting corpses of “World War Z” & “The Walking Dead.” Somehow Sakhổng lồ và his visual effects team, doing God-level (or at least Riông xã Baker-level) work with practical effects và a whole Fourth of July’s worth of squibs, have sầu designed a different, more grotesque zombie than we’ve seen recently. The zombification process — by which veins blacken, blood-clotted eyeballs short-circuit và bones crunch, emitting grisly, gristly cracking noises — begets genuinely horrific creatures that feel pitched somewhere between the malfunctioning “woman suit” of “Total Recall” & the half-melted Nazis of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Their treble-jointed locomotion is even more bizarre: They scuttle like crabs, “Exorcist”-style, or flip và contort like gymnasts on PCP, unconcerned with whether or not they stick the landing. Zombies have been gross for a long time; here they’re gross, surprising and, with elements borrowed from J-horror, actually scary.

The story is your basic male wish-fulfilment nonsense: Once-promising manga artist Hideo (an engagingly earnest Yô Ôizumi) gets yet another professional rejection và is thrown out by his girlfriend, on the very day an odd, unexplained vi khuẩn breaks out and Tokyo goes feral overnight. In a terrifically bonkers scene, his girlfriover becomes one of the first victims; she’s followed in short order by everyone else he knows. The mild-mannered, perma-baseball-capped Hideo — whoresembles the archetypical target viewer for this film so exactly it might as well be a first-person shooter —takes lớn the streets, carrying his prized possession: a shotgun that he has never fired. The film has no particular pretensions khổng lồ political relevance, but for American audiences, or indeed audiences familiar with gun-infested American genre films, this subplot holds its own kind of exotic fascination. In this environment, guns are so rare that everyone assumes Hideo’s is a fake; when they discover it isn’t, theywill kill lớn get it. Post-catastrophe, in the lvà of strict gun control, it seems the dude with the double-barreled shotgun is king.

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The gun certainly becomes the point of contention once Hideo falls inlớn company with ade rigueurJapanese schoolgirl (Kasungươi Arimura) whom he vows to lớn protect, và they happen upon a colony of survivors holed up atop a de rigueur shopping mall. The survivors, including nurse-turned commanvị Yabu (Masami Nagasawa) are led by the shady Iura (Yu Yoshizawa), who eyes Hideo’s gun covetously. A series of power-grabs và counter-coups ensues, while the zombies groaning và shambling below are learning new tricks.

If it sounds episodic, it certainly is: another quirk of serialized manga storytelling that is more or less directly translated to the screen. And thoughthe overarching quest — to get lớn Mount Fuji for vaguely spoiler-y reasons — is established early, the film ends still very far away from the snow-capped destination. It’s thus shamelessly mix up for a sequel, and though it’s inarguably overlong, narratively familiar and regrettably regressive in its sidelining of would-be kickass female characters, “I Am A Hero” is such gory, inventively violent fun that a follow-up is actually an appealing prospect. If nothing else, it should keep Japan’s giả movie-blood manufacturing industry in cloverfor years to lớn come.

Film Review: ‘I Am a Hero’

Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (Midnight Screenings), July 3, 2016. (Also at Sitges, Stockholm, SXSW festivals.) Running time: 126 MIN. (Original title: "Ai amu a hiro")

Production:(Japan) A Toho Company (in Japan) release of a Toho Pictures production in association with Avex Pictures, Shogakukan, Dentsu, WOWOW, Hakuhovày DY Media Partners. (International sales: Toho Company, Tokyo.) Produced by Michiaki Yamasaki, Shiro Kibởi. Executive producers, Minamày Ichikawa, Yoshiki Terashima, Masakazu Kubo, Riichiro Nakamura, Akira Tanaka, Tenshoku Iwata, Masanori Yumiya, Makolớn Takahashi, Katsumi Chiyo, Eisaku Yoshikawa, Shinichiro Tsuzuki, Koji Bandou, Naoto Miyamolớn.Crew:Directed by Shinsuke Sato. Screenplay, Akiko Nogi, adapted from the manga by Kengo Hanazawa. Camera (color), Taro Kawazu; editor, Tsuyoshi Imai; music, Nima Fakhrara; music supervisor, Hirohide Shida; production designer, Iwao Saito; costume designer, Masae Miyamoto; visual effects supervisor, Makolớn Kamiya.With:

Yô Ôizumi, Masamày Nagasawa, Kasumi Arimura, Hisashi Yoshizawa, Yoshinori Okada, Yu Tokui, Nana Katase, Jin Katagiri.