Bio Zombie (1998) May 20, 2007Posted by Cal in : Blogroll, Horror, Comedy, 1990s films , trackback
Director: Wilson Yip Cast: Jordan Chan, Sam Lee, Angela Tong, Lai Yiu-Cheung, Emotion Cheung Territory: Hong Kong Production Company: Cameron Entertainment Co
Long before Zack Snyder made the official Dawn of the Dead remake, Wilson Yip (who would later go on to helm the ultra-slick and ultra-stylish SPL) made his own. Sure, it has more laughs than frights, but the basic premise of a bunch of survivors in a mall over-run with the walking dead remains the same.
The twist here is that the survivors want to get out of the mall as it has become the centre of the zombie activity thanks in no small part to our two heroes. Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) are two slackers who run a dodgy VCD stall in the mall (having seen the quality of their stock, I think I may have purchased some of their VCDs in the past), while Woody’s would-be girlfriend Rolls (Angela Tong) is a vacuous beautician who strings along “Sushi Boy” (the wonderfully named Emotion Cheung), a well-meaning chef in the Mall’s Japanese restaurant just to get a discount. Rounding out the crew are Woody and Crazy Bee’s scumbag boss Mr Kui (Lai Yiu-Cheung) and his beautiful but downtrodden wife (Tam Suk-Mui). It is a testament to Lai’s skill as an actor that he pulls off such a vile role so well after playing the kindly, gentle “Piggy” in TVB’s Journey to the West! From this essentially unlikeable cast of characters we have what passes for Bio Zombie’s heroes – but it’s best not to pass judgement on them until they show their mettle in a crisis situation.
There’s a plot in here, but for the first forty minutes you’d hardly know it. A biological agent is stored in a bottle of Lucozade (surely a recipe for disaster right from the start!) and is being sold illegally nearby. This agent can turn people into killing machines – albeit very slow, shuffling killing machines with a taste for human flesh. The deal goes horribly wrong when the test case escapes and eats the weapons dealers. A survivor is picked up by the two slackers when they inadvertently knock him over in their car – and is given a drink from the Lucozade bottle to perk him up! The survivor, left for dead in the boot of Woody’s car, goes on a rampage when they reach the mall and thus kicks off the zombie invasion.
There’s some weird stuff in the first half of Bio-Zombie that has nothing whatsoever to do with zombies and has no place in a horror film. The comedy factor is so high early on that you actually forget what’s going to happen, and when it does, it’s quite a shock. The acting is quite remarkable at times, and much higher than you’d expect in a movie like this. The preliminary scenes setting up the heroes and villains pay off big time come the final reel because of all the goofing around earlier, not despite it. It even conjures up a fair bit of tension at times, particularly when the pair are handcuffed in the Security Guards’ office during an attack. The zombie make-up is not terribly complex or groundbreaking, but this doesn’t hamper the fun in any way. The zombies themselves are straight out of Romero’s world, and the same rules apply: only severe head wounds (preferably a headshot with a firearm) will stop them, and anything else is just going to fail.
The Mei-Ah DVD is a bit of a travesty, it has to be said. There is a US version, I believe, that has a very entertaining dub, but that sort of thing goes against the grain for me and I can’t see myself ever watching it. The problem with the Mei-Ah disc is the sound – it’s probably the worst I’ve ever heard on DVD. The picture is no more than adequate, but the subs throw up some strange “Chinglish” on occasions – such as when Woody and Sushi Boy burst into the gents’ toilet to find Crazy Bee in there. When asked what he was doing, he shouts back, “I am stooling!”. There are quite a few nuggets like that in here. The main selling point seems to be the very short alternate ending, but it is rather pointless and seems to have been filmed without serious consideration of actually being used.
Sam Lee would return (as a different character) in Bio Cops – an unnecessary and unsatisfying sequel that should have taken a headshot in the planning stages.