One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood
R2 - Japan - VAP
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (30th June 2019).
The Film

"One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" 「カメラを止めるな! スピンオフ ハリウッド大作戦!」 (2019)

Six month after the horrifying incident where the film crew and cast turned to zombies, the survivor Chinatsu moves to Hollywood, dyes her hair blonde and goes by the name "Holly" to move forward and recover from the trauma. She has also lost her voice entirely, but is able to work as a waitress in a small restaurant. Her boyfriend and coworker John (played by Nozomi de Lencquesaing) is concerned for her as flashbacks frequently return, but all hell breaks loose when a zombie outbreak occurs in the restaurant, bringing everything back for "Holly"...

But that is only for the first 20 minutes... and like the original "One Cut of the Dead" the opening scene is done in one shot one take without invisible cuts as the gimmick goes. Following the incredible success of the 2017 film which was made on a microbudget and eventually becoming the seventh highest grossing film in Japan in 2018 by making over 2000 times its budget, the previously unknown actors and filmmakers were suddenly in the spotlight, winning numerous awards including nine Japanese Academy Awards and being featured on television variety shows, commercials, and various other advertisements. A Hollywood remake is something that was in the rumor mill quickly after its success, but the team itself beat the Hollywood remake boat on their own by doing a commissioned "spin-off", financed partially by Nestle and AbemaTV. Following the Blu-ray and DVD release of "One Cut of the Dead" in December 2019, the film's director Shinichiro Ueda asked the cast and crew if they were available and willing to do a spin-off in January and February.

With all saying a definite "yes" to returning, a script was quickly put together that would repeat the same formula and act structure but pulling in some new twists to the story. While it was conceived as a short "spin-off", "One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" is a flat out sequel, though plays at just under an hour and was made in mind for internet streaming rather than a theatrical release. The story takes place six months later following the success of the first film and all the familiar faces return to the film. Takayuki Hamatsu as director Higurashi, Harumi Shuhama as his "Pon!" wife Harumi, Mao as their aggressively passionate assistant director Mao, the various zombies and the other crew make their appearances, with some more prominent than others. Again with the structure, it follows the basic three acts that the original film had - the one cut short film / the pre-production stage / the shooting of the one cut film. And of course as in the credits, shots of the making of the making of, via GoPro. The script was again written by Ueda, but the director would be the assistant on the first film Yuya Nakaizumi. For people that have seen the first film (which is a definite "must" before watching the "spin-off"), there should be no big surprises to be had. In some ways that is a positive and a negative, as the surprises and twists of the first film were very original and fun. But in the "One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" the audience is more looking for what the twists are rather than being in on the ride.

Like the first film, all the apparent "flaws" in the first twenty minutes are seen as intentional. The signposts flying away, Holly disappearing, Harumi making a bizarre cameo that doesn't make logical sense, sudden mention of "zombie medicine", the subtitles being partially off timed and spelled wrong. There are a few things such as one extra's wig falling off or the beer glass shattering that happened on the fourth and best take were left in and incorporated into the story, but overall the "mistakes" were planned in the original script and later revealed in the third act. But all goes back to the second act which takes place a month before in the preproduction phase. "One Cut of the Dead" was a massive hit for the Zombie Channel where it was first broadcast and director Higurashi is offered a sequel, but this time to be shot in Hollywood, in English, with the same cast and crew with a few new additional staff. Like before, there are major issues in the preproduction. Aika (played by Yuzuki Akiyama) the idol girl in the lead is concerned that her English is not good enough so all her lines are cut, Kazuaki (played by Kazuaki Nagaya) is concerned that the Americans in the diner are eating organic rather than meat, Hosoda (played by Manabu Hosoi) is constantly drinking, Yamakoshi (played by Shuntaro Yamazaki) says he cannot go by plane due to his stomach, but the biggest trouble comes with the American producer that secured the US locations being arrested and the whole shoot having to be relocated to somewhere in Japan. That means scouting for a restaurant location, redecorating it as an "American" diner and finding actors that can play the English language parts alongside the previous cast. They cast Mao's American boyfriend and actor Joe to play John and at a last minute decision, Harumi's English school teacher Charles (played by Charles Glover) to play the restaurant owner Tommy. While all seems chaotic, the main core of the piece is the heart at the middle, and this time it is the relationship between Mao and Joe. She is very passionate about her work in film production and must make a bold decision whether to continue in low budget movie making in Japan or follow Joe to America and start from zero, and how she is torn between the decision. It's a fairly simple and straightforward center, but how it is executed is fairly well done, especially how she makes her final choice. Like the first film, it is an emotional core that does satisfy quite well.

The film was in pre-production in January 2019, rehearsals in the beginning of February, shooting commencing on February 5th at the diner which was done in four takes, the rest of production and editing done by February 24th, and a special theatrical screening held on February 28th before the streaming on AbemaTV from March 2nd. Many fans were disappointed that the film didn't get the theatrical release like the first film did, so as a special thanks to fans, the film was screened in one cinema in Tokyo for a limited engagement of 15 days from March 21st - the same day the DVD release was announced. The film was meant to be a smaller spin-off, and the hype was not nearly as high as television and theatrical coverage was very limited, but the screenings were as expected sold out on every occasion. "One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" may repeat much of the same but is a great little entertaining ride with a few tricks left up its sleeve. It's bloody, hilarious, surprising, and also heartwarming as one would expect.

Note this is a region 2 NTSC DVD

Video

VAP presents the film in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement in the NTSC format. Shot in HD it's a little unfortunate this didn't receive a Blu-ray release like the first film did and only receiving a standard definition DVD release. The twenty minute movie-within-a-movie portion is stylized heavily with its dark yet bold colors, with some blurriness and bad white balance especially in the scenes shot outside the restaurant. There is a bit of blood splatter on the lens, though more like a dot for some time, but the ending splash of digital blood is quite fake to say the least, though seemingly intentionally. For the scenes afterwards with the preproduction and the shooting of the film the colors are bright and flat as expected from a standard HD shot production, similar to that of the latter portion of the first film. It does lack the sharpness in the standard definition transfer but overall there are no particular errors to speak of.

The film's runtime is 57:00.



















Audio

Japanese/English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
The original stereo audio track is a mix of Japanese and English. There really isn't anything to fault in the audio, as dialogue is quite clear in both the movie-within-a-movie portion is clear and free of distortion, and the latter portion is also excellent. Music is balanced as well as the effects never overpowering the dialogue portions, and there are no issues of dropouts or distortion in the track.

There are Japanese subtitles burned-in for English portions and optional Japanese HoH subtitles for the main feature. While it might be off-putting that the original subtitles are not removable, the subtitles being slightly late at times and having spelling errors are as the audience finds out are intentional and are integral to the experience. The Japanese HoH subtitles caption all the dialogue, though interestingly when English dialogue that is not subtitled is spoken, they are captioned with the English rather than translated into Japanese.

Extras

Audio commentary by director Yuya Nakaizumi & cast (56:47)
In this group commentary featuring the director plus seventeen members of the cast and crew, it is an overcrowded experience though never a dull one. They discuss the faults in the takes, the adlibs done, praises for individual scenes, pointing out the film references, as well as talks behind the scenes. Interestingly this is not an alternate audio track but is entirely a different title selection meaning the audio cannot be changed via remote.
in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles

"Making" documentary (37:48)
In this comprehensive behind the scenes documentary, it features the preproduction of the shoot, behind the scenes of the one shot one take scene that took four takes, interviews with the cast and crew during production, and more.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in Japanese captions

Stage Events (35:11)
There are two events presented here back to back. First is the preview screening on February 28th 2019 at Cinema Rosa in Ikebukuro, Tokyo with film critic Ko Arimura moderating a Q&A with the cast and crew. The second is at the same location at the general premiere screening from March 21st, 2019 with the cast and crew also greeting the audience. In the first they discuss about bringing the cast back together for the production and making the film in an extremely limited period. The second has the cast and crew repeating some of the same stories but also thanking the audience and urging them to spread the word of the short 15-day run in cinemas for the film.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0

"One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" GoPro version (17:56)
The fourth take as seen from the director’s perspective behind the cinematographer and sound engineer is presented of course uncut.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in Japanese/English Dolby Digital 2.0

Trailers (0:55)
Two quick trailers back to back are presented.
in anamorphic 1.78:1, in Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in Japanese captions

Booklet
A 16 page booklet is included in the case, featuring a short introduction, a cast map, detailed production notes, full credits, plus the script for the opening movie-within-a-movie segment in its original form, which was slightly changed due to adlibs and such. All text is in Japanese only.

Overall

"One Cut of the Dead: In Hollywood" may suffer from repeating the same formula as the first film, but is still a fun little ride that respects the rules of its predecessor while having a few new unexpected things. It's unfortunate VAP decided to forgo a Blu-ray release and only release it on DVD, but it has a good selection of extras included, but unfortunately no English subtitles for the main feature or extras.

The Film: B Video: B Audio: A- Extras: B Overall: B+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.