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October 15, 2000

Bio-Zombie

(runs 94 min.)

Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan Siu-Chun) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee Chan
Sam) run a pirate video shop in a Hong Kong mall. Their daily lives are
spent swaggering down the mall, talking big, betting on horse races and
trying to get dates with the various women who work there. Indeed,
except for two brief forays into the outer world at the beginning of the
movie (and one final visit at the end), the central cast of this movie
are the owners and workers at the various shops in the mall. Although we
see customers, they are early on ciphers, and later, zombies.

Running a beauty shop are two cute young women, Jelly and Rolls (yes,
they are actually called that in the movie, at least in the subtitles).
They are of course the constant victims of Woody and Bee's attentions.
Rolls is also the target of the unrequited love of a nerdy sushi chef at
the corner food court, Sushi Boy. On another floor, a cellphone store
('used' cellphones at bargain prices), we meet Brother Keung and his
wife. Brother Keung is an even bigger talker than Woody and Bee, if that
is possible.

The early part of the movie is spent introducing each of these
characters and giving us time to recognize their fundamental roles. A
handful of characters are basically good, but most are flawed or even
bad. This gives plenty of targets when the flesh starts to fly.

After this chatty beginning the various fates begin to intersect when
Woody and Bee are instructed by their faceless boss to bring his car.
While they are going to the shop to pick it up, we are introduced to the
source of the movie's action.

And now for a brief digression. When I was a child, decades ago, Marvel
Comics was at the height of its popularity. Stan Lee was one of the
founding fathers, as it were, and he was giving interviews everywhere,
magazines, television. Anyway, I saw an interview with him on a talk
show, and he was a very funny guy. His main thesis was that other
comic companies had very implausible superheroes, who flew threw the air
because of magical powers.

"But ours", he said with a wide grin, "they fly for very good reason".
The Incredible Hulk simply leapt very high like a giant grasshopper.
Thor would throw his hammer and since it was on a thong around his
wrist, his body would follow. Spiderman gained his powers quite
logically, when he was bitten by a radioactive spider. And so on. Stan
Lee clearly having fun, tongue planted firmly in cheek.

I mention this little anecdote because Bio-Zombie has a similar
attitude. While George Romero's original zombies, from Night of the
Living Dead
, are the result of mysterious radiation from a passing
comet, Bio-Zombie's zombies are caused by biological warfare agents,
created by the Iranians. A rogue canister of this chemical agent
disguised as a soft drink bottle is the source of all the chaos in the
movie.

So Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee cross paths with the 'real' world when
they--well that would be telling. Suffice it to say, for some reason
they bring an infected person back to the mall with them, and the world
begins to unravel.

The bio-agent is infectious (of course) and anyone bitten by a zombie is
doomed to become a zombie as well. Soon the mall is teaming with
shambling flesh eaters, and some measure of tension arises. I say only
some, because the tone of the movie even now is irreverant and
slapstick. References to video games abound, and any tool found around a
mall is pressed into service in the role of zombie slayer.

Overall, the movie follows this progression: first third chatty and a
bit slow, second third building toward the climactic zombie battle,
final third gory and exciting, but ending more somberly. I don't think
I'd give this movie more than a 6 out of 10, but with Halloween coming
up, it is certainly appropriate, and cheesy and low-budget enough to
make for silly fun.

Posted by dpwakefield at October 15, 2000 08:41 AM