"...described as Romero's Dawn of the Dead on acid..."
- Vic Nguyen
Literally: Petrified Fortune Corpse
Director: Yip Wai-Sun
Producer: Joe Ma Wai-Ho
Cast: Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Cheung Kam-Ching, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Tong Ying-Ying, Guy Lai Ying-Chau, Lai Suk-Yin, Lok Tat-Wah, Fast Beat, Slow Beat
Running Time: 93 min.
Plot: See reviews below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: Thank god for Angela Tong. Had she not been so damn pleasant to look at I might have ripped Bio Zombie from my DVD player and stacked it alongside Martial Angels and Naked Killer -- both of the movies-I'll-never-watch-again-as-long-as-I-live variety -- in my closet. Fortunately, Tong co-stars with a really tight pair of shorts that get ample screen time amidst Sam Lee's goofiness, the requisite lumbering zombies and a story so hollow George Romero's Dawn of the Dead looks heavily layered and complex in comparison.
Aside from the pleasing sight of Angela Tong's skin-tight wardrobe, Bio Zombie offers scant entertainment. It was obviously meant as a light summer film combining slapstick humor and over-the-top gore as evidenced by the DVDs festive box art (which is the second best thing about the film). But whereas the broad comedy patented by action star Jackie Chan actually propelled even the weakest of stories along, Bio Zombie's attempts at humor simply involve the asinine antics of two miscreants and their rubbery, oft-contorted faces. Admittedly, Sam Lee is FAR less annoying here than in some of his later films (notably Gen-X Cops), but he's annoying nonetheless. For example, a scene of Sam Lee picking his nose and wiping his "treasure" on Gordon Chan's leather coat is NOT funny. It's not. And no matter how many thousands of Hong Kong theater patrons laughed till they cried upon seeing Lee wipe his offending gift on Chan's jacket, booger picking on film stopped being funny sometime between Animal House and episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos.
Zombies terrorizing the occupants of a shopping mall is usually a promising premise (it also worked well in the fun '80s undead flick Night of the Comet), but a paper-thin plot and an ending that rivals A Hero Never Dies' in sheer lameness, kill what otherwise would have been a can't-miss idea. There's a brief attempt at explaining why zombies are terrorizing a largely unoccupied mall, but the set-up is so minimal it's amazing the film had anywhere near enough material to reach 97 minutes. Plodding zombies (are there any other kind?) roam the narrow halls of a near-deserted shopping mall intent on feasting on the flesh of our bumbling cast who desperately seek a means of escape. Gore, lame sub plots and close ups of Angela Tong's ass ensure, resulting in a conclusion so unsatisfying I actually had to skip back twice thinking I'd bought (!) yet another defective Mei Ah disk. Alas, the ending sucked (as does the alternate ending provided on this otherwise bare-bones DVD which, inexplicably, results in a conclusion so similar to the other one you have to wonder why anyone bothered filming both versions at all).
You could do worse than Bio Zombie (Sexy and Dangerous pops immediately into mind), but don't expect to have anywhere near as much fun as the box art promises.
ALEXANDER'S REVIEW: 4.5/10 (Angela Tong's shorts: 10/10)
NUMSKULL'S REVIEW: WARNING: This movie can fuck up your dreams. I mean it. The morning after I watched it, in that brief moment where the boundary between sleep and wakefulness is crossed, I caught a snippet of an otherwise forgotten dream where a white haired dude straight out of an old chop socky movie said (according to the burned-in subtitles...and yes, I know you're not supposed to be able to read in dreams, but I say that's a load of shit because I've done it loads of times):
"My kung fu is strong! With my new skills, you will soon find yourself playing the violin."
Bio-Zombie doesn't have any kung fu or violins, and the subtitles are new and improved rather than being burned onto the picture, so don't ask where the hell that came from. I'm not so sure I want to know, myself.
This movie taught me a lesson, too: Don't judge a director too heavily based on one film. Wilson Yip, director of this amusing romp, is also responsible for Midnight Zone, a film so astoundingly stupid that it makes those old Lo Wei/Jackie Chan movies look like masterpieces on every level.
An unapologetically "just for fun" late-nite style flick, Bio-Zombie will no doubt be compared to any number of other zombie movies (especially Dawn of the Dead, due to the shopping mall setting), and with good reason...it features all the gore makeup and bimbos you would expect, and, as always seems to be the case with films of this nature, there's one asshole character who yells at and disagrees with everyone else, and turns out to be the biggest wimp in the entire cast when high-pressure situations arise. In this case, the character is a shifty shopkeeper who is always telling his wife "You know nothing!" and refuses to utilize teamwork to escape from the zombie-infested mall. Most of the time, though, three other characters take center stage: Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan), a bootleg VCD merchant; Crazy Bee (Sam Lee), his partner in crime, who checks out a car mechanic's testicles and wants to kill a man before he dies; and Rolls (Angela Tong Ying-Ying), a mallrat who spends the majority of her screen time cluelessly running around in a sleeveless top with no bra underneath and a pair of shorts consisting of almost nothing. When Woody and Bee rob her in a women's' bathroom without revealing their identitties...uh, identities, she suspects that they are the culprits anyway and decides to get to the bottom of things by getting Woody drunk and then seducing him...a task with which, unsurprisingly, she has little difficulty (even after throwing up on him). After that, though, she has to rely on them and the others to save her from the hordes of zombies (a few of whom are shown getting "infected" but most of whom pretty much pop up out of nowhere despite the fact that the mall is supposed to be closed), including Sushi Boy, a guy who works in a Japanese restaurant and, even in his zombified state, still has a "thing" for her (hmm...can walking corpses get erections? Better make that TWO "things").
Bio-Zombie is certainly not without its flaws...the cop who gets sucked underneath the car has the most watery blood I've ever seen, and it's somewhat less than shocking when a getaway car suddenly won't start...but the good definitely outweighs the bad. The opening credits are cleverly done bootleg style, with irrelevant whispering and silhouettes on the screen captured by a shaky camcorder. The scene where Woody and Bee give fake alibis to a pair of cops has an unexpected twist that provides a great laugh-out-loud moment. And for some (presumably) unintentional humor, there's the line: "You want my wife to eat your noodle?" Best of all is the scene where the protagonists take up arms against the rampaging zombies and we're shown their "profiles" in a style similar to what you'd see for the various characters in a combat-based video game. Pity the text isn't translated for those of us who can't read Chinese (one of these days...).
The Mei Ah DVD (which won't play from the beginning on my DVD player...I have to start at chapter 2 and then "search" back to about 1 minute and 25 seconds into it, after the production company logos are done and the actual movie starts) has two endings. One is included with the film, the other is accessed from the main menu as a separate feature. I'm glad they're arranged in this way, because I definitely prefer the "main" ending to the alternate one. It's less predictable and sets a cooler, more unique tone as the film concludes.
Some blood splattered here and there (and here, too...and over there...), a few good laughs, and more overall entertainment value than you'd find in many other similarly-themed flicks. I dig it.
NUMSKULL'S RATING: 7/10
VIC NGUYEN'S REVIEW: This hyper-stylized zombie flick is a surprisingly entertaining production, which can be described as Romero's Dawn of the Dead on acid. Jordan Chan Siu-chun and Sam Lee Chan-sam star as a duo of pirate VCD salesman who inadvertantly plague Hong Kong with a race of flesh eating zombies. Finding themselves trapped inside a deserted shopping center, they must fend for themselves in order to escape alive. Inventive, flashy cinematography, along with fun performances, hilariously over-the-top situations, and great blood and guts action are just a few of the reasons that you should give Bio-zombie an hour and a half of your time.
VIC NGUYEN'S RATING: 7/10