Yep… November has continued to chug along at it’s busy, busy pace keeping me occupied with responsibilities but… every once in a while… I still do manage to shake all of those things and indulge in some brain rotting movie fun to share with you all. This time out, I’ve an odd little bit of zombie apocalypse fun… Malay style. “KL Zombi”, an honest to goodness Malaysian Zombie film. 🙂
Our synopsis… well here it goes… “KL Zombie is a story of five friends who each have their own dreams and hopes of a better life in the big city. But those lofty ambitions come to a screeching halt when a deadly virus outbreak turns its inhabitants into zombies. Oblivious and bumbling pizza delivery boy/hero Nipis has to put his life on the line in order to save himself and his friends from being infected by the virus.”
I’ve had this disc for a few weeks now, but it’s taken a bit for me to get around to being able to give it a proper watch. Thankfully, with Thanksgiving a few days away, Carolyn and I finally found the time for a proper “Movie Nite” snuggle on Sunday…. and some brain eating zombies (Just gotta have those…. 😉 ). So just how was the resulting evening entertainment wise? Guess all you curious Gentle Visitors will have to “Read On” to find out… 🙂
Well… a relaxing evening on the couch was indeed what this lady’s been badly in need of of late, and along with some quality time with my sweet Carolyn and Ting-Ting… I had Zombies…. Maybe not every girl’s “romantic dream evening”, but at heart it’s pretty fair to admit… I’m a pretty odd girl. 🙂
The Malay film industry isn’t the biggest player in Asian cinema. Just watching a few films shows that it’s obvious that in many ways they still have a fairly limited local regional audience that they market towards as opposed to the bigger film industries like the Korean, Chinese, or Thai ones. But hey… all those giants started small too before making the jump to catering to a more International fan base. Who says the Malaysians can’t pull off the same transformation? It’s films like this… featuring a lot of very “Westernized” elements put through the ol’ Malay Cultural Filter…that show they want to do just that.
Zombies. Now you honestly can’t really find a more culturally “Western” monster to build a film around. Asia has it’s “Long Haired Ghosts”… it’s “Hopping Vampires”…. and our old friend, the “ghost in a sack”, the Pocong, but when it comes to the flesh eating, living impaired, brain munching Zombie, well… we here in the West pretty much wrote the rules on how that all is supposed to work. For an Asian film then, the big question isn’t to figure out how to change those rules, but to decide just how to put your own bit of local flavor to that old story and make it work.
Burial practices and the general view of dealing with the deceased make the general notion of Zombies the way we usual picture them unworkable in a lot of ways. So the biggest problem you have is the vexing question “Where in heck do those Zombies come from?”. Thank goodness for the recent “Pandemic Disease Paranoia” that also seems to rule movie scripts of late…
Yep. In “KL Zombi” the Zombie Apocalypse can be blamed on a nasty cross-species viral outbreak caused from a dog bite received during the get together of a group of young Malay 20-somethings for a night of partying. From there… in a particularly Malay way, the disease gets passed as a venereal disease to our hero’s sister during an ill-conceived make-out session with her best friend’s current boyfriend. It’s a particularly sneaky lil’ swipe at the no-no of pre-martial sex done in a clever way to add that lil’ Moral lesson to our story for the local Malay audience. Yep, the Censors always love seeing proper reinforcement of local religious ideas… Normally this wee Catgirl finds such efforts a bit preachy… but this one is done in a very subtle and clever fashion that makes it work without beating that lesson about your head and shoulders.
Our hero Nipis (played by Zizan Raja Lawak), is a feckless slacker, cut very much from the same cloth as the Cuban hero of “Juan of the Dead” which I saw and reviewed some while back here at the ol’ Litterbox. As in that film, Nipis is just sort of drifting through life on autopilot, having no real ambition beyond being a hero on the field hockey pitch and finding a sexy girlfriend to woo on a pizza delivery boy’s salary. Definitely a tall order. Like another Zombie Apocalypse hero Shaun of “Shaun of the Dead” he’s even amazingly blind to the very arrival of the walking hungry dead for the first third or so of our film. And that’s pretty much a good example of the way “KL Zombi” chooses to tell it’s story, by “borrowing” bits from all those earlier films. Mostly, anyways… but not completely. There are some nice original bits too. Most of those follow a local celebrity con artist Bro Khalid (played by Usop Wilca) with his own twist on the Amway pyramid marketing scam called “Broway”. He’s that typical opportunistic businessman selling his snake oil products with a wink and a smile, ever on the look-out for the next “big thing” he can slap his label on and make a buck off of. While he initially falls victim to the zombie plague right along with most of the rest of Kuala Lumpur, it’s ultimately his luck to actually have one of his cheap products accidentally turn out to be the “cure” for our Zombie Virus. It’s funny and hilariously ironic to see him bounce back from flesh eating monster to “world savior” at our film’s end, smelling like a rose and lining his pockets with even more money than before. Moral lesson? Nawwww… just wry observation about the realities of life in a modern consumer society.
However, for most of our story, it’s pretty much the usual by the book stuff you all would expect from the genre. Our hero initially is oblivious to the danger… he eventually wakes up and smells the roses, but not in time to save his sister from becoming one of those walking ghouls… then he rallies a motley group of fellow survivors (and a sexy girl just perfect for the roll of girlfriend) before ultimately finding the cure and saving the day. Nothing amazing… nothing novel or surprising, but if you enjoy getting little flashes of bits from other (and for the most part, admittedly better) Zombie Apocalypse films as seen through the eyes of a Malay audience and such cultural comparisons are your thing, then you’ll enjoy yourself well enough and sometimes that’s enough. About the only new thing your Favorite Catgirl did bring away from “KL Zombi” was the chance to see child actor Afiq Izzudin as a naughty schoolkid sidekick for our hero… even Carolyn immediately recognized him from 2011’s “Alamak… Toyol!” where he played the crazy green toyol demon. It was neat seeing him without the makeup this time out and actually getting to see him speak and act. He was the most memorable actor for me in that earlier film, and he certainly almost steals the show here too. Awwwww! My sweetie actually paid attention to one of my movies!! See… she’s slowly becoming a fan too… 😉
So what’s the final verdict then? Well… it isn’t the greatest film ever made by almost any standards, but it’s a pretty fair attempt at telling a local story in the genre with reasonably good acting, nice makeup effects and done in a palatable fashion that most foreign audiences will follow. Heck, who am I kidding… after the crappy month I’ve been having, “Real World” wise, any zombies were welcome at the apartment for “Movie Nite”. With that, I’m inclined to be generous and give this one a respectable middle-of-the-road 3 “Meows” out of 5. The DVD? Well the Malay disc is sold as a Region 3 , but is secretly All region, with good English subs and is available most places you get Malay DVD’s from at right around 9-15$ US… good enough reasons in my book to snag a copy. Hey…. and it comes without any of the latest Malay crappy copy protection schemes that this wee Catgirl occasionally moans about, a most definite plus!!
Trailer… Oh, yes… never worry, Neko’s got that in hand. 😉