A brand spankin’ New Year is upon us, and with the arrival of 2015, it’s time to check back in with the “Zombie Apocalypse” and see what’s up, o’ Gentle Visitors. Don’t want those flesh-eating goons sneaking up on us now do we? 😉 This time out, it’s a return to Taipei with the sequel to writer/director Joe Chien’s 2012 “Zombie 108”, a little slice of Zombie storytelling titled “Zombie Fight Club”.
The synopsis goes like this: “It’s the end of the century, in the slums of Taipei in a building riddled with crime. As the Zombie Apocalypse begins, suddenly everyone in the building has begun to turn into zombies. After Jenny’s boyfriend is killed in a zombie attack, she faces the challenge of surviving in the face of adversity. In order to stay alive she struggles with lone SWAT officer Andy to flee the danger. The originally kind and warm-hearted chemistry teacher, after the chaos has broken out, becomes the zombie leader and has transformed into a cruel, vicious and selfish tyrant. His violent henchmen match prisoners against zombies in a malicious killing game, the good side of humanity has seemingly all but vanished. Now that all order is lost, how will humans create a new century?”
I’ve watched the original “Zombie 108”…. and could have sworn I did a review for it, but the Litterbox tells me it’s nowhere to be found. Hmmmm? Maybe now that I’m a crazy old Cat Lady of 42 I’m just having one of those “senior moments” I’ve heard tell of. Who knows? But, by jiminy… I’m reviewing this one, so if you wanna hear the details, then just “Read On” and find out how it all went down.
Yep. The Zombie Apocalypse has finally reached Taiwan. “Zombie Fight Club” basically replays the opening time period of the initial outbreak we saw in “Zombie 108”. This time out we follow a number of groups within one of those rundown low rent apartment buildings that seem to crop up in big cities as all the bad stuff starts to happen and things rapidly go from your ordinary run-of-the-mill day-to-day bad to nightmarish freaking horrifically baaaad. Ummmm… and it all seems awfully familiar too. Deja vu? Nope. It’s just that while making this one, writer/director Joe Chien seems to have a number of other movies stuck in his head….
Ever wonder what the bone crunching martial art police vs gangsters action movie “The Raid” needed to make it even better? Apparently this movie would have you believe adding zombies would make it even more awesome. Yep. basically that’s one of the bigger subplots running through here, as a group of SWAT guys raid the building right as the zombie stuff shows up, and of course they really aren’t here for any real noble reasons. Nope. Seems the unit leader has the idea to bust in on a drug lab within one of the apartments, kill the guys inside, and steal the huge sack of ill-gotten money you always seem to find in a place like that. Our hero, Andy (played by Andy On) is just an ordinary cop who’s not in on the plan, although how he got involved is pretty much glossed over. We just know he’s here to be the kung-fu cop hero of our movie, and end up saving our heroine while fending off his own crooked companions, the vicious gangsters, and all those hungry zombies.
So who is our heroine? Why that would be Jenny (played by Amerasian model and wannabe actress Jessica Cambensy) who is hanging out with her doofy rapper boyfriend (played by Derek Tsang) and his crew of homeboy rappers and their stripper groupies in his apartment where the guys and gals are partying like there’s no tomorrow. Which… given the sudden advent of the Zombie Apocalypse… is ironically appropriate. Sigh… Yep. Just what our movie needed. A plucky sexy bimbo with a heart of gold… and no real substance. Now… this wee lady does understand it’s an “exploitation” film…. I really do… and Miss Cambensy is awfully sexy (or so my sweetie insists… Grrrr!! Darn her and her attraction to petite Asian girls. 😉 ) … but I’d have still prefered (and half expected) our heroine to have been the equally attractive messenger girl who is involved with another nefarious group in the building… a bunch of kidnappers holding a businessman for ransom. But no… she’s spunky… she’s cute… but ultimately she’s destined to be Zombie fodder pretty darn quickly once the poo hits the fan.
Jenny, on the other hand lucks out by hooking up with hunky Andy. Good thing too, especially since she seems completely ignorant when it comes to speaking Mandarin and our boy Andy’s pretty darn fluent in English. That had me scratching my head since while delivering all her lines in perfect English, the HK DVD chooses to subtitle her badly in English… Huh? I kid you not. It’s almost the funniest thing in the whole movie as Carolyn and I kept comparing what she was saying with what was being subtitled. Sorta like in a Hindi film when a character swears in English… and is subtitled with something like “Awww, golly darn!!”.
These other storylines… one featuring the kidnappers… one involving the crooked cops… and one involving a school professor and his daughter during her birthday party… keep intersecting and colliding, the body count continuing to rack up as Andy and Jenny struggle to escape the building. You get plenty of CGI enhanced gore and zombie stuff, complete with mutating zombies like in “Resident Evil” (See… more and more plot bits from other movies…). All in all… although it’s not terrifically original, this part is the best part of the film. I found the heavy reliance on CGI gore to be a bit distracting… as it’s nowhere near as seamless or sophisticated as the stuff from “Resident Evil”… but for the most part it works, and even manages to give the film the look of one of those first person shooter video games at times. Hopefully that was the intent.
However… just when we were getting comfortable with the plot, at about the one hour mark our two main characters actually escape from the building during a flashy explosion and our film lurches off the tracks to go barreling off to parts unknown. Suddenly… it’s waaaaaay later on… (or maybe a week later… who the heck knows… or even cares) and our two leads are now the captives of the schoolteacher character who’s inexplicably become the undisputed tyrant ruling the zombie ridden ruins of Taipei with an iron hand along with his gang of “Mad Max” thugs in leather butcher’s aprons and a cadre of dominatrixes in black leather. Their ultimate goal? To run a gladiatorial arena blood sport where human survivors are pitted against hordes of the undead for fun and profit. Huh? What the hell?
Damned if I know how this plot seemed a good idea… or any sort of coherent ending for what’s already been shown. It’s like there were two entirely different films that somehow got crudely sewn together like Frankenstein’s monster and then sent out to rampage through theaters for the hell of it. With not a torch wielding villager to stop it…
Anyways… Andy and Jenny now face the daily threats posed by enslavement at the hands of a madman obsessed with his dead zombie daughter (Yes… yes… just exactly like a certain really popular Zombie TV show on US cable TV… 😉 ). There’s torture… sadistic sexual sadism.. and all the human vs zombie MMA cockfighting action that the title originally promised. Not all that much of it, mind you, there’s really only about 30 minutes of movie left by this point after all. So… will our leads survive? Will they somehow escape to rebuild humanity, post-Apocalypse? Do you actually really care? I didn’t… that’s for sure.
Nope. Unfortunently the first rule of “Zombie Fight Club” ought to be “You never… ever… for any reason at all… talk about Zombie Fight Club”. Your Favorite Catgirl likes trashy movies. I really…. really… REALLY… do. But I can’t say I liked this. I give it a paltry 2 “Meows” out of 5 for failing to do its job… or holding its focus… or… well… really anything with its premise. It’s a polished proffessionally made film… just not a very good one. I guess what “Zombie Fight Club” is trying best to do, is to show us all just how f*cked Taipei is gonna be once the Zombie Apocalypse gets going. Yep. I certainly plan to be elsewhere when it all starts to go south… trust me.
The DVD? Well, the HK Region 3 is NTSC widescreen formatted with reasonable… if somewhat goofy and inaccurate (as well as superfluous at times) English subtitles. You can pick up a copy easily for right around 15 $ US if for some reason you’d actually still want to after what this Catgirl’s just related…
Yep, and of course there’s a Zombie filled Trailer to give you the general notion of what’s what… so here goes! 😉