Color, 1998, 94 mins. / Directed by Wilson Yip Wai Shun / Starring Jordan Chan Siu-Chun, Sam Lee Chan Sam, Emotion Cheung Kam-Ching, Wayne Lai Yiu-Cheung

Format: DVD - Media Blasters-Tokyo Shock / Letterboxed (1.85:1) / Dolby Digital 2.0

Thanks to the likes of Return of the Living Dead and Peter Jackson's Brain Damage, the gory zombie comedy has actually become a fairly respectable subgenre of the horror film. Though the territory seemed well worn, Hong Kong actually managed to put yet another spin on the subject with the giddy Bio-Zombie, a combination of goofball humor and lurching horror that practically backflips over itself to win the audience's approval.

Beginning like a sort of twisted Asian version of Clerks (including a jokey credit sequence with a built-in theater audience), the film follows the misadventures of a pair of VCD bootleggers, Woody Invincible (Jordan Chan Siu-Chun) and Crazy Bee (Sam Lee Chan Sam), who accidentally ram their boss' car into a Chinese government agent who's carrying a soda bottle packed with a dangerous contaminant engineered by Iraq for national devastation. Unfortunately our two anti-heroes dump a load of zombie brew down the agent's throat and toss him in the trunk, which leads to some devastating consequences when they bring him back to the shop. Soon a full scale zombie plague has been unleashed upon their quiet shopping mall, and the only solution is mass zombie destruction.

Okay, so Bio-Zombie may not be a sensitive work of cinematic art, but it's one of the more enjoyable horror outings from the end of a decade infamous for nearly burying the genre altogether. Just silly enough to be endearing and graphic enough to keep the gorehounds happy, Bio-Zombie in some ways feels like an amphetamine-driven extension of the Mr. Vampire films by way of George Romero. The video culture in-jokes are actually quite funny, as our heroes gradually transform from shiftless pirates to butt-kicking bruisers who splatter first and ask questions later. Put your brain on hold and enjoy!

The domestic DVD from Media Blasters appears to be comparable to the region free edition released overseas by Mei Ah, whose logo still remains at the beginning of the print. The non-anamoprhic transfer likes nice enough, with solid greens and blues effectively saturing much of the action. Detail looks fine, with only some slight aliasing; the digital noise reduction which plagues many Hong Kong transfers is mostly kept well in check here, most likely due to the recent vintage of the film. The soundtrack contains either the original Cantonese dub (by far the better option) or an L.A.-flavored English dub track, filled with "dudes" and "whoas." More amusingly, the subtitles can be chosen between a well-written new English translation or, as the menu puts it, "Engrish" subtitles, which carry over the original, chaotically mistranslated subs from the Mei Ah disc. Extras include a handful of lobby cards and trailers for four other Media Blasters titles, but alas, no trailer for Bio-Zombie itself. Buckle up and enjoy.

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