Thursday, December 31

Some quick thoughts on Bio-Zombie (1998)

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I hate not really enjoying Bio-Zombie (Sun faa sau si) for the unoffensive zombo romp that it's generally considered being. It's not alien that this one sometimes lands in top ten lists detailing the best undead numbers of all time. Good justification can be seen in that, with Cantonese horror dominated by hopping vampires and Anthony Wong murdering children, to my knowledge Wilson Yip's film is the only straight zombie flick hailing from one of China's thriving capitalist regions. That alone deserves recognition even with my qualms.

Like the Weasel's 1996 masterwork, Bio-Dome, this flesh-eating mall invasion shares a pair of young dude, nimrod protagonists and their misadventures...only with oatmeal-plastered zombies. Woody (Jordan Chan) and Bee (Sam Lee) run a shady VCD shop while looking to get one over on everyone, treating co-workers like trash, and mugging customers. Sorry to mention Pauly Shore again in the same paragraph, but at least Dome's Bud and Doyle aren't abrasive assholes.

Perhaps this is some statement on rebellious (or wannabe) Hong Kong youth culture, but there's an acceptance issue when later Woody and Bee are casually presented as the good guys in contrast to another asshole shop owner who relentlessly torments his wife. While this provides the dramatic motivation in the film's second half as situations test the bullshit arrogance of the duo, it's still hard to root for them with nearly fifty minutes of screaming, stealing, slapping, and drinking antagonistically aimed at others who don't deserve it before the zombies get serious.

The zombie infection dynamic is off-kilter with an unseen spread of the epidemic outside the mall, caused by toxic soda pop,eventually making its way into the building's corridors. We never see pardons attacked or the mall bustling with activity with most of the zombies simply appearing for the last half hour. The film finally picks up and it's like dominoes falling complete with brain drilling, decaps, parking garage smackdowns, and nifty character profiles. Special kudos go to the giga-hot Angela Tong for making the most heart-meltingly cute mock zombie groan while trying to eat a finger at the behest of an amorous sushi bar-working nerd turned poorly make-uped zombie.

The more cast members that meet a toothy slaughter--the better Bio-Zombie gets. The talky frenzy calms as Yip adopts a more serious tone rather than the otherwise dominating Americanized teen comedy shtick. It's actually not that hard to envision a domestic remake being crafted without too many cultural "adjustments" required in the translation. The ending, at least the one featured on Tokyo Shock's DVD, is pleasingly nihilistic and sends the film off on a high note. Bio-Zombie is worth seeing for the ardent zombie flick buff, but it's a shame Yip had such unlikable characters as leads and lets the adolescent laughs overwhelm the few very promising (yet unfulfilled) glimmers of undead cinema maturity.
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3 comments:

DWizard said...

DejaVu?

Jayson said...

whaaaaaaa?

DWizard said...

Hmm. I thought for sure you just recently did a Bio Zombie review... guess I'm just imagining shit again.

...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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