Zombie 108

Dir: Joe Chien
Star: Morris Rong, Yvonne Yao, Sona Eyambe, Josh-Hiyakawa Wilson

The first zombie movie out of Taiwan is a bit of an odd creature, which has all the usual tropes of the genre, but also throws in more local elements of flavour such as cops vs. triads. That's fair enough, but what works less well, is a subplot involving a sexual sadist who kidnaps women and keeps them locked up in his basement for torture purposes (he also uses zombies to generate electricity, I kid you not!). And, hey, what are the odds: among the others seeking shelter in his apartment is a wanted killer. I dunno: maybe that's local flavour too - or perhaps it's simply wish-fulfillment, considering the pervert (seriously, that's what the IMDB calls his character, giving you an idea of the lack of depth involved) is played by the director. "Cool! I get paid and get to molest defenseless women!" The other problem is an apparently incoherent time-line. It starts off with Linda (Yao) roaming the deserted streets, looking for her daughter, when she meets the pervert. It then flashes back 108 hours to when the epidemic was starting... but it seems she's already locked up in his basement? It either makes no sense, or is, at best, poorly laid-out.

I don't want to make it seem worthless, since the other side of the script is rather more fun. That has a group of local criminals and their boss (Rong) under attack by the cops, only for both then to become the lunch menu for the zombies. Naturally, they have to join forces (and ammo), to make their way through the city, while being nibbled on by the horde. It's fairly standard stuff, but is done with enough energy, and Rong is an amusing anti-hero: we were also amused by the woman who screamed at just about anything, and the film does do something genuinely new, when the survivors make an SOS sign to attact help. The zombie and gore effects are a bit of a mixed bag: some work very nicely, but others appear to have strayed in from the Halloween store. Probably not too much of a surprise, considering the $300K budget was largely funded through Facebook. While far from perfect, it's certainly not as bad as some of the other reviews might have you believe ("utterly horrendous"? Whoever wrote that clearly didn't see the Day of the Dead remake), and as a debut, could certainly have been worse.

[December 2013]

Cold Chinese
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