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Michael Ning (Actor) | Louis Cheung (Actor) | Alex Man (Actor) | Carrie Ng (Actor)
This professional review refers to Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (2017) (Blu-ray) (Hong Kong Version)
The zombie genre has been enjoying a new lease of life in Asian cinema after the massive international success of the Korean hit Train to Busan, Hong Kong getting in on the act with the strangely-titled Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight. Adapted from a popular novel, the film was directed by Alan Lo, who also draws upon his own 2012 short Zombie Guillotines for a wild and wacky tale of geeks and ghouls. The film's cast is a real mixture of new and old school Hong Kong talent, headlined by Michael Ning, who recently won a number of Supporting Actor awards for his role in Port of Call, and Louis Cheung (Keeper of Darkness), joined by up and coming actresses Cherry Ngan (The Way We Dance) and Venus Wong (GIRL$), and veterans Alex Man (As Tears Go By) and Carrie Ng (Naked Killer).
Michael Ning and Louis Cheung play Lone and Yeung respectively, a couple of oddball buddies and slackers, who spend their time trying to get by while dreaming that they’re superheroes destined to save the world. Things aren't looking good for the pair, with Lone and his Cantonese opera singer mother Shan (Carrie Ng) on the verge of being evicted and with his father Wing (Alex Man) due to be released from jail after a 15-year stretch. Matters get considerably worse when Hong Kong is suddenly hit by a zombie outbreak, the undead turning up all over the city and attacking the living. This spurs the lazy pair to take up arms to fight back, joined by Shan's niece Yit (Cherry Ngan), a young woman obsessed with the paranormal, who Yeung has a serious crush on, and Shuan, a martial arts action star who has recently been jilted at the altar by her fiancé and who is still wearing her wedding dress.
Though it's hard not to imagine the Train to Busan effect had no influence on Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight, at the same time the film is a very old-fashioned Hong Kong-style slice of horror nonsense, with equal measures horror, action, comedy, melodrama and extreme senselessness. Following on from other recent examples of the form like Vampire Cleanup Department, though most resembling Wilson Yip’s 1998 cult classic Bio Zombie, the film is enjoyable foolishness from start to finish, at least for viewers comfortable with chaotic incoherence, its threadbare plot leaping between anecdotal scenes and set pieces with abandon, from decently-choreographed battles with zombies (complete with an impressive array of bizarre homemade weapons), through to family drama and struggles with a giant monster chicken which may or may not be real. The film's tone shifts wildly throughout, as does its visual style, working in plenty of anime sequences, computer effects and makeup, all in a garish and colourful manner. It’s for the most part energetic stuff, though understandably its pinball pacing and a sense of humour which could politely be described as eccentric, will prove a turn-off for some.
Possibly the strangest thing about Zombiology is Lo's insistence on inserting as much melodrama and male wish fulfilment romance as possible, often cutting away from the action to throw in another scene of angst. Whilst its theme of reconciliation between generations and families is a worthy one, and there's hints of social commentary and that Lo might be aiming to draw comparisons with the politically turbulent times the youth of Hong Kong find themselves in, it never really rings true due to the daftness of the characters, none of whom are believable. This does mean that the film drags a bit in places, and it would certainly have benefitted from some judicious trimming, or perhaps simply better writing – without being familiar with the source material it's hard to tell whether this is an issue with the film or the novel itself.
To be fair, the cast all acquit themselves reasonably well, and though Michael Ning and Louis Cheung are saddled with only sporadically likeable protagonists, they manage to add a fair amount of the required camaraderie. While Cherry Ngan and Venus Wong are mainly on hand to provide eye candy and male fantasy figures, they both do their best with their clunky dialogue and behaviour, and it's good to see Alex Man and Carrie Ng, who add a touch of class and nostalgia.
Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (the title is never explained) is undoubtedly a film which will divide audiences, depending on what they make of its willful and often breathless incomprehensibility and soap opera relationship wrangling. There's plenty of fun to be had for fans of Hong Kong horror craziness, and though it's by no means a classic of the form, it's good to see films like this still being made.
by James Mudge - EasternKicks.com
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