Bio-Zombie (1998)

Sushi guy zombie loves this lady
Sushi guy zombie loves this lady

Lethal chemicals in a Lucozade bottle trigger a zombie infestation in a Hong Kong shopping mall. Nonsense-spouting VCD shop duo, Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee, find themselves trapped in the mall with several other shop workers, as the crazed, scabby-faced, cannibal undead start multiplying in number.

Spectrum Films Blu-ray cover
Spectrum Films Blu-ray cover

Horror comedy BIO-ZOMBIE begins by introducing us to the lowly, trivial world of slackers Woody and Bee, who think nothing of mugging Rolls (Angela Tong), a pretty fellow mall worker, for her ring and cash. Yet, despite their superficial banter and disreputable ways, director Wilson (IP MAN) Yip manages to encourage us to tolerate these two fast-talking, disaffected teens, rather than dismiss them immediately as total scumbags. Actor Jordan Chan, from the YOUNG AND DANGEROUS film series, instils a certain amount of rough charm and hints of well-hidden decency into the character of Woody, further encouraging us to give these shirkers a chance.

Woody and Bee: the slacker duo who take-on the zombies
Woody and Bee: the slacker duo who take-on the zombies
Zombies on the loose!
Zombies on the loose!

The arc of another character, Kui (Yiu Cheung Lai), goes in the opposite direction, however, as he segues from seemingly self-assured, arrogant phone shop owner to a total coward who is prepared to shove a fellow survivor into the clutches of a mass of zombies to save his own skin.

Zombies overrun the carpark
Zombies overrun the carpark
Mrs. Kui (Suk-Mui Tam) finally falls victim to the undead
Mrs. Kui (Suk-Mui Tam) finally falls victim to the undead

The zombie makeups vary wildly in quality, and the movie takes its time to build momentum, but it is worth the wait, as we are treated to some interesting sequences, such as the scene where a lovelorn, infected sushi guy (Emotion Cheung) fights his undead urges and tries to protect Rolls from a bunch of zombie footballers… by offering them a plate of severed fingers served on rice!

The lovesick, scabby-faced sushi dude
The lovesick, scabby-faced sushi dude
Poor zombie sushi dude
Poor zombie sushi dude

The film retains its irreverent humour throughout, but adds increasingly bloody encounters, including Woody shoving a cordless drill into a zombie’s mouth, and it also includes a couple of unexpected emotional moments, plus some quirky homages to survival horror video games. 

A zombie stalks the mall
A zombie stalks the mall

Unlike most zombie films, which generally feature characters unaware of the whole mythos surrounding the undead, this movie wittily has Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) suddenly remembering a zombie computer game he’d been playing, prompting him to inform a cop that he needs to shoot an undead attacker in the head.

Hong Kong DVD cover
Hong Kong DVD cover

Woody’s transformation from strutting, self-concerned jerk to heroic zombie-fighter is nicely handled, a moment of on the nose sentimentality that occurs after Crazy Bee gets bitten somehow works (only Hong Kong films can get away with this kind of scene!) and the ending succeeds in being quite affecting, as Woody willingly drinks from the deadly Lucozade bottle after seeing Rolls unknowingly take a sip (although an alternative, more obviously downbeat final shot is also featured in the end credits).

Hong Kong Blu-ray cover
Hong Kong Blu-ray cover

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