Bio Zombie (1998), Cert 18.

Director - Wilson Yip.

Writers - Matt Chow & Siu Man Sing.

Starring - Jordan Chan, Sam Lee, Angela Tong Ying-Ying & Yiu-Cheung Lai.

 

Premise - Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) are a couple of no good, late teen losers who work in a Hong Kong shopping mall. When an underworld biological weapon sale goes awry, a zombie ends up on the loose and starts to shuffle, very slowly, towards the shopping mall...................

Bio Zombie is by no means a classic film, but it is a whole lot of fun. In the best tradition of schlock-horror flicks it's cheesy, poorly acted and overly gory. All the things I love in a nice cheesy horror film.

The film sure takes it's time getting to the good stuff though. For about the first forty minutes we are treated to what amounts to a Hong Kong version of 'Mallrats'. Invincible and Bee work in a VCD store in the mall selling bootleg films. In-fact the opening credits cleverly lampoon this shady industry as they are presented in the style of a particularly bad bootleg. Witness the silhouettes getting up to go the toilet, the rustling sweet wrappers, the coughing and the running commentary by the guy behind you. It's quite clever and I'm amazed someone hasn't thought of doing it before (or since).

So, Bee and Invincible spend their day hanging around their store, playing video games (which plays a nice part in the film, more on this later), eyeing up the ladies and generally being unlikable lowlifes. The first third of the film follows these two on a typical day, nothing much interesting happens and it's a hard fight maintaining interest in the movie.

The wait is worth it however, as things hot up dramatically when the Zombies turn up. As we all know the golden rule of zombie films is 'Once you're bit, you're it!' so it's not too long before the mall is crawling with the undead. From here on in were in a sort of 'Dawn Of The Dead' homage that is the kind of film that 'Resident Evil' should have been, but failed to be on every possible level. Where Resident Evil's zombies seemed to be vegetarian pedestrians with a case of dry skin, Bio Zombies undead are ravenous cannibals with limbs that seem destined to fall off.

For such a cheap film from Hong Kong, Bio Zombie is certainly stylish enough. Director Wilson Yip shoots the confined walkways of the mall very nicely and builds a stifling sense of claustrophobia. The make-up effects which consist of glued on Rice Crispies in the early stages of 'zombiefication' are actually quite impressive for the complete zombies with limbs and skin hanging off all over the place. Keep an eye out for a clever scene that builds on the two main characters fixation with video games. As the group tool themselves up for a big fight the movie shows them as video game characters complete with on-screen stats, a nice touch.

As is the norm for these type of films the acting varies from the downright terrible to just about passable. Although Jordan Chan, who plays Woody Invincible (got to love these names!) shows some promise as his character has a bit of development. Invincible starts the film as a completely unlikable waster, but as the film goes on he reacts well to his predicament to become something of a hero.

The film takes little chance as far as plot goes and for the most part is a by the numbers Zombie flick aimed at a teenage audience. Although that's exactly what I was looking for so I can't really mark it down for that. I was impressed with the ending as it goes completely against the light hearted tone of the rest of the film to present a stark, contrasting, darkly ambiguous ending.

Bio Zombie is a must for fans of both zombie flicks and asian cinema. Don't be put of by the slow opening act, the rest of the film makes up for it marvellously.

 

6/10 for Bio Zombie.

Poster Quote - Ach, Zombies! There, pretty as a picture.