DVD Reviews A-M
> Bio Zombie
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10-04-2004, 01:08 PM
Review Date: January 14, 2002
Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 4/24/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: No
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot1s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot1l.jpg) Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan) and his sidekick Crazy Bee (Sam Lee) are two typical, rambunctious teenagers working in a VCD shop in a Hong Kong shopping mall. They smoke pot, they harass other storekeepers like phone dealer Mr. Kui (Yiu-Cheung Lai), they're disrespectful to their customers and they hit on chicks like Rolls (Angela Tong Ying-Ying), a beautiful girl who works in the mall's cosmetics shop. They also have to deal with their unseen boss, who is always calling them to check on business. One day though their boss calls them and instead requests that they go to the local mechanic to pick up his car for him. They close the shop and head out.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot2s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot2l.jpg) Meanwhile, some rather unsavory business is being conducted nearby. Iraqi spies are concluding a deal with several Chinese military officials who want to buy a powerful biological weapon from them. It seems that the Iraqis have developed a compound that is capable of turning ordinary men into super-strong, bloodthirsty zombies (see what happens without those U.N. weapons inspectors)! Unfortunately, during the meeting the test zombie the Iraqis brought along to show off the weapon escapes, killing several of the Chinese officers. One becomes so panicked that he grabs the weapon - which is disguised in a soft drink bottle - and runs out into the road, where he's hit by Woody and Bee heading back to the mall in their boss' car. As they try to comfort him, he mumbles something about a "soft drink", and thinking he wants one, they give him a drink of the biological weapon! Unsure of what to do next, they put him in the trunk and head back to the mall.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot3s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot3l.jpg) Being completely irresponsible, the two teens manage to forget about having the man in the trunk when they get back to the mall and they go back to their shop. When they finally do remember, they rush out to find the trunk open and the man gone. What happened to him? Soon after, Loi (Emotion Cheung), a teenager working in the mall's sushi restaurant, is attacked in the bathroom by what appears to be the man Woody and Bee hit, only he has been transformed into a rotting zombie! Loi manages to escape, but the creature bites him in the process, and he turns into a zombie. From there the contagion spreads until almost the entire mall is overrun, forcing Woody and Bee, who have barricaded themselves in a shop with a small group of people, to fight for their lives and find a way to escape from the marauding creatures.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot4s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot4l.jpg) Bio Zombie is a very welcome and fresh addition to the zombie genre. Although it obviously owes a lot to earlier movies (Dawn of the Dead springs immediately to mind, especially in terms of its setting), its mix of comedy, gore and horror still works very well for the most part. Bio Zombie is not an incredibly bloody movie, although there are some nice gory bits like flesh-eating and ripped-off limbs thrown in for good measure. Rather, a good part of the film's effectiveness comes from its well-choreographed action and skillful editing, which sometimes give it the feel of a horror movie made by John Woo. However, the movie is also more of a comedy than a horror piece, and its slapstick humor is very enjoyable.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot5s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot5l.jpg) In fact, if Bio Zombie is hurt by one thing, it's probably the fact that the characters of Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee are too well developed and too well played by Sam Lee and Jordan Chan. While many zombie movies have suffered from characters that were either very stupid, annoying or outright dull, this is absolutely not the case here. Woody and Bee, who begin the film almost like an Oriental version of Beavis and Butthead and gradually develop into mature heroes, could easily have been very annoying and tiresome, but instead they are funny and likeable. In fact, their antics are so much fun to watch that they often end up stealing the show from the zombies, and it's almost a disappointment when the mall is overrun by the creatures and the two characters are finally forced to act like adults.
So while it may not be the greatest zombie film out there, Bio Zombie is still a damn good one that kept me entertained and kept me laughing. It's very funny, it has enough bloodletting for gorehounds to be satisfied (though they won't be overjoyed), and it features good human characters, something of a rarity for a zombie film. So definitely check it out
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot6s.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_shot6l.jpg) Bio Zombie is presented letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is not enhanced for 16x9 TVs. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the same transfer that appeared on the import Mei Ah disc, as the beginning of the film bears the company's logo. Anyways, except for one area, this transfer is very good. The colors look wonderful, with barely a trace of oversaturation or bleed. Grain is very light to nil, and aside from a few instances where pixel breakups or other artifacts are noticeable, the compression is fine. The picture remains very sharp and detailed throughout, with only a few soft bits noticeable. Unfortunately, the film elements used for this transfer seem to have suffered quite a bit of surface damage, resulting in a picture that is at many times marred by moderate to heavy speckling. Considering that Bio Zombie was only released in 1998, the amount of damage seen here is surprising and very annoying.
There are two soundtrack options available on this release. The first is an English 2.0 Stereo dub, and the second is the film's original Cantonese language track, also presented in 2.0 Stereo. These are very nice-sounding tracks, with very good range and absolutely no distortion of any kind, although the bass level seems a bit stronger on the Cantonese track when compared to the English dub. Frankly though, I prefer the English dub, as it adds to the film's humor. Interestingly, there are two separate English subtitle options available. The first set of subtitles is very well translated and easy to make sense of. The second set sometimes looks like it was translated by a high school student, and is full of misspellings, grammatical errors and words which just don't make sense.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/a-m/bz/bz_menul.jpg) This release is regrettably light on supplements. Included is a brief gallery of lobby cards for the film and trailers for Gappa, Hakaider, Wild Criminal and Reborn from Hell II, which are all Asian films available from Media Blasters. Unfortunately, no trailer for Bio Zombie itself is included (if you want that you'll have to get their Creatures from the Abyss release). Even more disappointing is the fact that an alternate ending exists for Bio Zombie which was included as an extra on the Mei Ah disc but is absent here.
Although it has not been given a perfect presentation, Bio Zombie is a good movie that's well worth seeing, and this disc's $24.95 MSRP is an acceptable price. It's a certainly not a bad release, but the flawed transfer and lack of supplements mean that it's not nearly as good as one would hope. Since the region-free Mei Ah disc (which unfortunately is missing an English-language track) can also be purchased for fairly cheap, fans might want to look into that option as well when considering whether or not to purchase Bio Zombie.
Movie – B+
Image Quality – B
Sound – B+
Supplements – C
Running Time - 1 hour 35 minutes
20 Chapter Stops
English 2.0 Stereo
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