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Bio Zombie
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Bio Zombie (1998)

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Plot Summary:
"Hong Kong's answer to George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead. A soft drink tainted with bio-chemicals has the power to turn people into flesh-eating zombies. A man drinks from the bottle, and wanders into the night. As two young VCD sellers (Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee) from a local mall are returning to the mall with their bosses' car, they hit the man. Unsure of what to do, they bring the man back to the mall with them. The mall closes, and soon there are zombies everywhere! A small group of mall employees must bond together to try and fight their way out."

Reviewer: John Dedeke @horrorasylum
Review Date: 31 October 2001 My Rating: out of 5


# Asian cinema is a very mixed bag -- not so much in terms of quality, though. The quality of most Hong Kong movies is actually pretty much the same across the board. What is subject to variation, however, is how enjoyable a particular film may or may not be. While production values, special effects, and overall aesthetic quality generally does not differ too much between Hong Kong flicks, that does not mean that one movies is necessarily as enjoyable as another. Sometimes all of the elements fit together perfectly; sometimes they don't. Fortunately, BIO ZOMBIE is one of those cases where they do.

It's hard to make a zombie movie these days that doesn't look a whole lot like some other zombie movie. Combine that idea with the fact that the setting for BIO ZOMBIE is a shopping center, and obvious comparisons have to be made to George Romero's epic masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD. The similarities end right there, however. BIO ZOMBIE is in a completely different world than DAWN OF THE DEAD, and really owes a little more credit for influence to movies like DEAD ALIVE or RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, or another Asian flick, WILD ZERO. While the film is certainly not a comedy, it does have an abundance of (largely effective) humor. More evident, though, is the large number of interesting and unexpected turns that the film takes. BIO ZOMBIE really is a movie where you don't know what will happen (or who will die) next.

Unpredictability is itself a rare commodity in movies. Seldom does a film like BIO ZOMBIE keep its surprises and twists not only intact, but pleasing as well. Also pleasing about the film is the rich amount of character growth over the course of its minutes. One doesn't normally expect a movie like this to even care about character development, and yet writers Matt Chow and Siu Man Sing and director Wilson Yip do show genuine concern over how this story is told, and how the audience responds to the characters. Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee are likeably unlikable at the film's opening, but gradually grow to be accepted by the viewer as a legitimately compelling duo. It's a similar situation with a number of the supporting characters in the film, as well. Rolls, the female lead of the film (whose friend is also oddly named, as 'Jelly'), is a young girl who works at a beauty shop in the mall, and becomes a love interest for both the arrogant-yet-appealing Invincible and the adoring-but-unattractive counter boy of a sushi bar in the food court. There are parts of Rolls' personality that you find yourself liking, while other aspects of her character are not so endearing. The growth the characters go through seems entirely natural (relative to the extraordinary circumstances around them, of course) and interesting, adding a dimension to the movie that turns what had the probability of being just another insignificant Asian zombie movie into something truly unique and special. And, most importantly, it's entertaining.

Sure, the film is goofy, and a lot of the Hong Kong humor might not translate well to foreign audiences, but these gripes are quite incidental. The action is tight, the camerawork and visuals are rather stylish and impressive, and the script is certainly more than adequate. It's good, clever, gory fun, at it's best.

Some may just assume it's a knockoff of other zombie flicks, but those who feel that way are missing out on the greatness of this unlikely horror treat. It's gory, fully of action and humor, and keeps you glued all the way to the fitting and somewhat chilling conclusion. Forget the big-budget RESIDENT EVIL movie. BIO ZOMBIE is a true zombie-movie-meets-video-game, which means it is one thing above all else: lots of fun.

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