Jan 5, 2011

Bio-Zombie


Bio-Zombie has had it coming for quite some time. I recall viewing the trailer for this back in 2004 on the Tokyo Shock release of Versus. I hadn't explored Asian horror quite enough to be interested in the kooky Hong-Kong spoof of zombie foundations found within Bio-Zombie. Besides, the characters seemed too much like pestering caricatures and we know how much the East loves to include the "quirk" with the salivating annunciation of simple words. Having borrowed Bio-Zombie from a friend only yesterday, I felt obligated to finally put aside my differences and watch the film with absolutely no expectations. After all, Bio-Zombie is directed by Wilson Yip, the adrenaline junkie that basically handed Donnie Yen his international acclaim with such incredible vessels as Sha Po Lang, Flash Point, and Ip Man


As if you couldn't tell, Bio-Zombie is a comedy centered around an undead outbreak in a mall. It's ultimately up to two Triad underlings to rescue their companions and try to escape the mall unscathed. The reason of Bio-Zombie's cult success can most likely be attested to the transfusion of pop-culture as popularized in Edgar Wright's filmography. These rebellious teens reference Sega Arcade title The House of the Dead quickly as their zombie situation turns deadly. The less-annoying "Crazy Bee" screams to a police officer to shoot the shuffling monster in the head. Such game devices are also attempted, as quick-edits of game footage are spliced parallel to carnage and a reload button appears on the screen after surveying a police officer's standard issue handgun. At first, I was very unsure of Bio-Zombie. I can credit the film towards looking better than the average Hong Kong horror endeavor of that time period. Wilson Yip certainly is skilled in aiming adventure towards a certain demographic (Romero fans) but the characters had irritated me and as expected, stained a foul misconception. But before I could further boil my disappointment, something . . . strange happened: the characters matured and grew from their experiences. The poisonous, inane, and belligerent cast of Bio-Zombie swapped roles in such an effective manner that literally left me stunned. 


When the film begins, our characters Woody and Bee are tasked with minding the bootleg video shop for their mysterious boss. Even in a comedic and relevant introduction are we given insight to this. Bio-Zombie's opening credits are a handicam shot of a theater screen and it's implied that the latest film bootlegged by these goons is entitled Bio-Zombie. Woody is the personal growth that I've been regarding to. Starting out as a pest and eventually becoming the action hero of the film, Woody is a prime example that lowering standards early  only to blast them out of the park later is a great way to pack on pounds of charisma by the film's break. Another intrinsic treasure of Bio-Zombie is the offbeat median of impact that explodes around the hour mark. Scrapping all humor and playfulness, Bio-Zombie becomes what most zombie films aim for - a personal tragedy. Many characters that have been adapted to your tastes, had you an appreciation of Eastern splatter, will die off in violent and tasteful ways. Never skipping the adoration of past characters, Wilson Yip maintains his respect and allows these characters to build sympathy towards them while also kindling several sweet, but short romances along the way. Bio-Zombie is a zombie film done with fervor and appreciation for its influences. Did anybody else get a Street Trash vibe with its Tenafly Viper allusions of toxic beverage?


Bio-Zombie is bad taste done right, this is for certain. After Sushi Boy's romance came to a sudden end, I was certain that Wilson Yip had it out for all his characters but after further evaluation, it became apparent that I was blind to an expectation of altruism. Yip too cared as much for these characters as I did, which explains the amount of depth put into such a band of deceitful miscreants. But he had to focus on the horror element of his cult opus. Had there been no bloodshed then there would have been no conflict. No conflict would have led to nil emotional struggle and without that then Bio-Zombie would have been useless zombie fodder. Just another film to accompany the rest of the undead genre. The humor basis may not spark an interest in the culturally-declined, or if you simply are not amused by slapstick antics from the East. However, Bio-Zombie is certainly special in its own regard. It starts off reflecting the own stupidity of its characters then settles out into one of the more bleak and surprising endings amidst soulless sinema. For what it's worth, I'm glad I waited until my tastes evolved to view this film. Had I viewed it back then perhaps the austere note Bio-Zombie's left on might have upset me. As it stands, one of the very few "Zombie" films I can tolerate, enjoy, even.


-mAQ

2 comments:

Andrew Green said...

I might have to rewatch this one....
I know I checked it out a few years ago, but don't seem to have much of a recollection of it.

Michael Williams said...

I love this movie! I got a copy of it as part of a VHS tape trade I made over 10 years ago. I definitely will be revisiting this one soon.

M