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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.

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