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1998, dir. Wilson Yip
94 min, Rated R.
Starring: Jordan Chan, Sam Lee, Angela Tong Ying-Ying, Yiu-Cheung Lai

Review by Noel Wood

I didn't know what to expect when I loaded up on Zombie movies for this month's tribute to the walking dead. I knew I'd probably have to wade through a bunch of the crappiest films ever made in order to really satisfy my zombie cravings, but I'm used to bad movies.

When I found Bio-Zombie, I wasn't that thrilled at first. Nothing about the description really grabbed me. There are zombies in a shopping, sounds like a Hong Kong remake of Dawn of the Dead, and I've seen enough remakes of that one to last me a while. It was actually pretty low on my list of films to see. In fact, the only reason I watched it when I did was because it had the shortest run time of any of the movies I had at home at the time. So in other words, I wasn't expecting a lot.

Man, was I surprised. Bio-Zombie is not only one of the better zombie films I've seen during this past month, but it's among the best zombie films ever made.

Bio-Zombie is a product of Hong Kong, but it feels like a Japanese film in a lot of ways. It centers around two dudes named Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee who work in a store that sells pirated VCDs in the local mall. How can you go wrong with names like that? Anyway, these two are the local bad boys, and they're the first ones that everyone blames when things go wrong. One night, they are delivering their boss's car to him and accidentally run over a government agent who is transporting a top-secret government formula...a soft drink that turns its consumer into a zombie. Thanks to a communication mishap, they feed the dude some of the soda before shoving him in the trunk and heading back to the mall.

Woody and Bee need money to repair the car they just clobbered secret government agent dude with, so they decide to mug Rolls, a girl who works in the local salon. In an odd turn of events, they wind up on a double-date with Rolls and her friend Jelly (I swear I'm not making these names up) at a sushi restaurant where the chef holds a torch for Rolls as well. While they're in the mall, the zombie escapes the trunk and takes out a few security guards. Eventually, the duo get pinched for a stolen cellphone (that belonged to the zombie dude before they sold it to the local pawn shop dude for pennies on the dollar and was subsequently stolen back by the zombie dude.) The sushi chef winds up becoming zombiefied as well, and before you know it, there are zombies crawling all over this shopping mecca. Woody and Bee try to keep themselves alive along with Rolls, Jelly, and Mr. and Mrs. Kui, the pawn shop owners.

Once you get past the first 30 minutes or so, which is a little more plot-intensive than it probably needs to be, Bio-Zombie starts getting pretty damn good. Because of the shopping mall setting, things are very claustrophobic. There are lots of dark corners, so the zombies seem to come from nowhere. There is a sufficient amount of blood and gore, but the film doesn't rely on it. But most of all, it's clever.

The way that Woody and Bee figure out how to dispose of the zombies is by flashing back to the time they've spent playing the House of the Dead video game. And when they get stuck in certain situations, the graphics from that game (or something similar) flash to let you know what the issue is. Imagine Woody grabbing a cell phone only to see the universal "low battery" symbol flash on the screen, or watching as the "Reload" command pops up when they're out of bullets. Even when our sextet of protagonists set out to escape the zombie terror, the character intro screens from the video game show each character's profile. It's little touches like this that makes the movie so fun.

The best thing about this film is the zombies. Director Wilson Yip and writers Matt Chow and Siu Man Sing have obviously been watching their share of George Romero films, because these zombies are straight out of the master's series. Infected by a secret government experiment, they plod along slowly with an instinct to feed and infect their victims with their bites. The only way to kill them is to aim for the head. Sure, some might lambaste these guys for being derivative in their depiction of the living dead, but let's face it -- Romero wrote the book when it comes to how these bastards act.

There's even the one requisite sympathetic zombie, the aforementioned Sushi chef. Instead of going on a feeding frenzy with all of his flesh-eating peers, he captures the object of his affection and protects her from the other zombies. He even feeds them sushi to stave off their advances. Sushi Boy even gets his lady friend a present, and has his heart broken when she is forced to use it to defend Woody. Sushi Zombie will appear again later in the movie, making an impact before the film's fairly bleak finale.

In pretty much every way, this is a superior zombie flick. I'd go so far as to say that outside of the work of the good Mr. Romero (and maybe Shaun of the Dead,) this is the best film starring the walking dead to ever be caught on celluloid. The characters are well-defined and actually even grow a little bit in the long run, The action is exciting, and the zombies are pretty kickass. Bio-Zombie is highly recommended.

After all, it's not every day that you see a movie with a line like "This guy must be the king of balls!"

Rating: Five out of five Brains.


All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.

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