Zen Pictures returns to the martial-arts-infused-spy-girls-in-office-attire genre with Burning Action – Superheroine Chronicles Burnout Neo 2, starring Ayana Tanigaki and Asami reprising their characters from the first installment. It’s a fun romp with lots of action and a brief torture scene, and some genuine suspense towards the end.
The movie begins with a really long recap of the first episode, for those who may have skipped Burning Action – Superheroine Chronicles Burnout Neo 1. Or for those who, like me, have absolutely no memory of where we left off last time. (I remember something about Neo Energy, a lot of terrific fight scenes, and that’s about it). As it turns out, Ayana Tanigaki is still in the hands of the bad guys, who have her tied to a chair and are continuing the torture scene from part 1. This isn’t such a bad way to start off this episode, is it?
Apparently, our heroine is giving the bad guys some sass, so they respond with lots of brutal punches to her stomach as she’s tied to the metal chair. The bad guys have also utilized their extensive knowledge of streaming video and are broadcasting the torture to Tanigaki’s friends back at the good guys’ headquarters. Tanigaki’s partner, Asami, receives a phone call from the bad guys and sets out to rescue her friend from the clutches of Zen Pictures’ henchmen roster. Back in the torture room, the creator of Neo Energy prepares a syringe with which he intends to inject our heroine. He seems awfully reluctant about this, as the bad guys seem to be forcing him to go along with their plans. He overcomes his reluctance and injects her with some kind of chemical that appears to cause extreme discomfort.
Asami arrives at the bad guys’ base to rescue her friend and encounters the purple-suited guy from the first video (whom, you’ll recall, is an almost unstoppable fighter). Just as she prepares to fight him, he pulls out a couple of dice and (I guess) suggests that they settle their differences not with a thrilling, well-choreographed fight sequence, but rather with a dice game. In real life, this might be an intriguing, elegant way to resolve a dispute, but it’s actually not that exciting to watch (especially since 100% of the people who buy this video are doing so ONLY to watch hot girls in perilous situations fighting bad guys). Apparently, the dice game works like this: the characters take turns rolling the dice. Depending on the roll, the character gets to punch or kick the other character. (Note: this is eerily similar to one of the worst scenes in one of the worst movies ever made—the “hand slap game” scene from Steven Seagal’s On Deadly Ground.) Anyway, the villain lands a few vicious blows that bring our heroine to her knees and even cause her to spit up some transparent gastric fluid (probably some Crystal Pepsi™ from 1993). All in all, this fight scene is very unconventional and actually becomes quite entertaining, even though it pales in comparison to Zen’s usual fight scenes.
In the meantime, the bad guys have Tanigaki chained up AOH and are punching her and torturing her with electric shocks. The creator of Neo Energy is again forced to participate in the torture of our heroine and seems awfully unhappy about this. When he refuses to continue, he receives some punches of his own (so those of you wanting to see a middle-aged man receive a beating have finally found your video!) Eventually, the heroine breaks free and beats up the bad guys in a fight scene that is pretty good but not as good as any of the fight sequences from the previous video.
While this is taking place, Asami and the villain are still playing the dice game, and apparently the tide has turned and our heroine has the upper hand. Eventually, the two characters forget about the stupid dice and just start fighting each other like normal, decent people. Asami finally defeats the bad guy with a powerful uppercut (we know it’s powerful because it happens in slow motion), and the two heroines join up and make their exit from the bad guys’ lair, with the old man in tow.
In the next scene, the heroines are running for no apparent reason and encounter a bunch of bad guys, whom they fight. No idea what this is about, but at this point, I’ll take some action however I can get it. The fighting is very well choreographed, performed and edited. These two videos contain some excellent fighting scenes, so fans of that sort of thing should be satisfied with the content here. There’s even some inventive camerawork that adds energy and intensity to the video. (For those who are into such things, I really love the shot at about the 35:37 mark. I commend you, director Kanzo Matsuura.)
After defeating the bad guys, the girls meet the villain in the purple suit for the final showdown. At this point, the scariest thing about the villain is the ever-present threat of more dice games, but fortunately, he injects himself in the neck with a serum or some sort, which apparently gives him super strength. Since he was already a formidable opponent, this promises to be a tough fight for our heroines. But we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we? And wow! What a great fight scene this is, with impressive stunt work, a super-throatlift (accomplished, I imagine, with some wire work), and a total ass-kicking in which Asami receives a severe beatdown. I won’t spoil the end of the fight, but I actually found myself genuinely involved in the outcome, which is a rarity in this genre.
When it comes to spending your hard-earned dollars on a Zen Pictures movie, I would imagine that you’re probably not looking for emotional involvement or really well executed fight scenes that don’t necessarily have anything to do with setting up peril to occur later. That’s pretty much the case with the Burning Action – Superheroine Chronicles Burnout Neo films. This episode contains a little more torture than the previous episode, but part 1 features better action scenes. Either way, this series represents a slightly more mainstream approach to action, and in that way, I think it’s a pretty great accomplishment for the filmmakers. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual stuff, but personally, I hope Zen Pictures sticks to the tried-and-true fetishy action-oriented content we all know and love.
Chronicles Burnout Neo 2 at Zen Pictures