by Wilson Yip, 1998, 94 min. starring Jordan Chan, Sam Lee, Angela
Tong Ying-Ying, Yiu-Cheung Lai, and Emotion Cheung.
Despite my aversion towards zombie
flicks (Asian zombie flicks in particular - brought about no doubt
by the viewing of Junk), I approached Bio
Zombie (aka Sang dut sau shut) with as much of an
open mind as possible. After all, when your lead characters are
named Woody Invincible, Crazy Bee, Rolls, and Jelly, you gotta know
you’re in store for something else.
Although you really don't get anything original
in particular, what's surprising about Bio Zombie is that
you may just find yourself enjoying it. With a cast of well-defined
characters, you don't get that annoyingly unrealistic shifting in
characterization that plagues several horror movies. What you see
these characters are in the first 15 minutes is what they'll be
like all throughout. And each character really does contribute a
lot to the paper-thin plot line. For what it lacks in meat, it more
than makes up for with performance - not that it'll win any acting
awards. Meryl Streep ain't gonna be knockin' down these actors doors
asking for techniques. It's just that it's almost as if these actors
know that they're in a ridiculous movie, therefore they should give
equally ridiculous performances. And it's this type of fearlessness
that make it, well, almost endearing.
"If there are zombies, I'll eat them up!!"
Although nothing compelling happens in this movie
in terms of plotlines, I suppose a fair outline is in order. Woody
Invincible (Jordan Chan) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee III) run a pirated
VCD shop at a mall in Hong Kong. They’re into all sorts of
illegal activity - petty theft, carjacking, the works. They also
run errands for Brother Kui (Yiu-Cheung Lai), another small-time
thug who buys and sells stolen cell phones. One night, they are
asked to pick up a car and driven to the mall. The two gladly oblige
– anything for a free ride.
Meanwhile, at an abandoned warehouse, a group of
scientists are testing the latest biological weapon of mass destruction
- a soft drink (bizarrely, the UK's friend-to-ill-children, bright
orange, sugar-packed Lucozade) mixed with a chemical that instantly
turns its drinker into a brainless zombie. The scientists pat themselves
on the back as their subject shows exemplary strength and can wreak
absolute terror. Now they have the ultimate weapon...
Well, being that zombies have a mind of their own
(that's probably an oxymoron), their test subject escapes, causing
a commotion among the scientists. One of them starts to run with
the toxic drink, running all the way to the highway, where –
you guessed it – Woody and Bee accidentally run him over while
driving Brother Kui's car. The two stop, step out of the car, and
attempt to resuscitate the victim. "Maybe he needs a drink…"
How convenient, he's brought his own soda! They proceed to force
the liquid into the victim’s mouth. When he still doesn't
come to, they decide he's dead, and stuff him in the trunk.
Arriving back at the mall, they decide to check
on the body - he's still out cold. They do notice, however, that
the man has a cellphone. Being the crooks that they are, they swipe
the phone, and decide to sell it to Brother Kui, who, being a crook
as well, gives them a really stinky price for it. Still, they managed
to get some cash out of it. While all this is going on, the body
in the trunk begins to show signs of life. Well, if you consider
zombie life to actually be some kind of life, that is.
He breaks out of the trunk, then proceeds to juice one of the car
park security guards.
Around this time – Crazy Bee and Woody Invincible
hook up with two chicks they've been cruising all night long. Rolls
and Jelly run a beauty parlor in the same mall. They meet up at
a sushi restaurant and the alpha males decide to splurge with their
newfound cellphone sale. Looking on jealously is nerdy, bespectacled
sushi chef Sushi Boy who has a major crush on Rolls. The two, knowing
this, continue to taunt Sushi Boy all night.
Soon enough, the mall nears closing time, and the
shops begin to close up - a perfect opportunity for a zombie to
roam around a mall undetected, and of course, to add more to the
zombie population. Pretty soon, several of the night staff have
been zombiefied, including poor old Sushi Boy.
Seeing that the major cast all have shops at the
mall, they are the last to leave. And sure enough, they discover
zombies roaming the corridors, and it all becomes a battle of the
zany living against the even zanier dead.
in the second part of this film is pretty much what you'd expect
from a zombie movie. But what sets it apart from the genre is that
it's essentially a comedy with a few gross-out bits thrown in. I
suppose the gross-out bits can be seen as intentionally funny, considering
the cheapness of the make-up and sound effects. I swear, at one
point my fillings were acting up because I believe they used two
pieces of Styrofoam rubbed together to make a squishy sound.
The make-up was hilariously inconsistent
– looking pretty much like oatmeal piled on faces with glops
of strawberry jam for effect. And again with powdered everything!
(Where do these people get the idea that when you die, you get powdery?)
The only make-up consistent throughout the movie belongs to Rolls:
amidst all the chaos, her frosted lipstick stays intact. Very J-Lo
in The Cell.
Still, for all its shortcomings, it's the performances
that have to be applauded. These actors attack their roles with
such absolute gusto it's commendable. I suppose for every Styrofoam
weapon brandished or cardboard computer monitor thrown, there is
a zany vibe that runs throughout that makes up for that. And, come
on, it's really not meant to be taken seriously. You just have to
smile at the low-budget attempts at terror and marvel at its one-liners
and out-of-place humor.
If there's one question that’ll stay with
me after seeing this movie, it's this: Do zombies need glasses
to see better? ;-)
Apple Rating for this film:
Entertainment value: 8/10
Sex: Woody Invincible?/10
Toxic Lucozade?: Yum! Must be all that tasty Sunset Yellow (E171)
that makes those zombies oh-so-unkillable
Make-up: oatmeal and strawberry jam? Not so much special FX as breakfast
Human Sushi: you betcha! Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase
'finger food' ;-D
Woody Invincible: also known in some versions as, believe it or
not, Mo Dik. Mmmmm, subtle! ;-)
Films in a Similar Style: Junk
(doesn't have the humour, but does have the cheese'n'sleaze), Wild
Zero (great film, badly made-up zombies), Bio-Cops
***Recommended - lacking in horror but in no way lacking in
Discuss this movie here at the Snowblood Apple Forums!
- fab review from the folks at Teleport City, hilariously written
and very nicely observed
- don't read Chinese and wondering what the video-game profiles
in the film are in translation? Read this review and wonder no longer
- Sex Gore Mutants, bang on the money as usual
- another beautifully-written review
- more of the same
- a reasonable (although short) review, but a whole bunch of great
- Destroy All Monsters (what a great name for a site!) have their
go at pinning down that elusive BZ-factor
- three really good reviews (despite the thing about Angela Tong's
- and user reviews at Cinemasie [French only]
- loads of images, and technical specs about the movie and a good
review to boot
- Akatomy does a brilliant job with his review, and there's some
screencaps too [French only]