Tuesday, July 11, 2017

NYAFF ’17: Zombiology

The Zombie Apocalypse is a lot like the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody expects it. However, Lone and Yeung are better prepared than most. They already have their superhero alter-egos, plus their talent for designing exotic stage prop weaponry will be applicable to their new challenges. There is a bit of Darko-esque unreliability to our husky focal hero, but there is no denying the gleeful madness of Alan Lo’s Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (trailer here), which screens during the 2017 New York Asian Film Festival.

Of all the days for Lone’s disgraced father Wing to be released from prison, it happens on the eve of the Zombie uprising. Technically, it is a giant toy chicken that looks like a cousin of SpongeBob Squarepants who is behind the zombie infestation, but Lone and Yeung do not know anything about it or its exploding eggs yet. They have been busy packing up “Aunt” Shan, who was badly injured in the car wreck Lone’s dad took the fall for. She long tried to maintain her Cantonese opera performance space, but she finally sold out to the predatory real estate agents and developers, whom the film not so subtly suggests are worse than zombies.

Lone and Yeung are both agog over MMA star Yee-sue, but Yeung really carries a torch for Shan’s niece Yit. She is also unusually prepared for a Zombie apocalypse as a member of an amateur Men-in-Black organization. She has gear too. Yet, the lads will end up teaming up with Yee-sue when they find her crying in the streets, nearly oblivious to the zombies, after she was jilted at the aisle.

Zombiology is nuts in every way possible, but whether it is real or whatever, the characters are insanely likable. They put up a heck of a fight too, not quite on the level of Don Lee brawling through a train-car-load of zombies in Train to Busan, but still pretty darn impressive. In addition to the chicken with zombifying breath, there are animated interludes in which Lone and Yeung transform into their superhero identities to fight mecha-kaiju. While the animation is cool, the live action zombie-stomping has a decidedly low fi look that actually suits the film.

The responsible adults, Alex Man and Carrie Ng are terrific as Wing and Shan. As Yit and Yee-sue, Cherry Ngan Cheuk-ling and Venus Wong show off all the action chops, but fans aren’t likely to object. Michael Ning and Louis Cheung Kai-chung develop decent buddy chemistry together, but the former really deserves credit for selling the WTF ending.

Whatever you want in a movie, Zombiology has something a lot like it that’s just as good. Frankly, it is rejuvenating to see such a deliriously freewheeling film. Highly recommended for fans of zombies and go-for-broke filmmaking, Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight screens Saturday (7/15), at the SVA Theatre, as part of this year’s NYAFF.