Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Zombie Fight Club - review

2014 (Taiwan)

Contains mild spoilers.

Just as in his previous zombie outing, Zombie 108, Taiwanese director Joe Chien's Zombie Fight Club revels in sex and violence in the most negative and exploitative of ways. Women are clad without exception in as little as possible and always presented as 'the fairer' sex, with all that implies, and all tense situations are resolved with as much detached cum homicidal inhumanity and lashings of blood and gore as possible. It's dark, it's intense, it's The Horde with less of a sense of moral consequence, and while it doesn't quite reach the tumultuous and questionable edge of decency and good judgement, of its predecessor, what with the torture porn and whatnot, it's not far off. And we've not even got onto the zombies.

Like its predecessor, whilst there's a huge part of me that really wanted to take a firm stance of dislike towards it, I actually quite enjoyed myself; though again more for the parts than the sum. There's a rapper and celebratory entourage replete with party girls and dodgy pills, there's an amateur kidnapping with body parts ready to be posted, there's a deadly gangland heist with hoodlums pretending to be cops or maybe bent cops playing hoodlums, and a high school teacher playing doting father to his birthday girl all the while making advances towards her friend. There's lots of stories, lots of characters, lots going on and it's all interesting and satisfyingly dark and deviant, especially as the mayhem and carnage of a full on zombie apocalypse descends on (or should that be ascends) their claustrophobic run-down apartment block. The thing is when all done and dusted some hour later, their location and the fact most of them are dead or undead is still mostly the only thing that connects them. As said, it's the constituent parts of the film, more than the composition as a whole that entertains; in fact thinking too hard at all about the film as a complete piece with maybe a central thread will do no one any good, which is especially important what with all that happens at said hour mark.

Chien is either brave or foolish, though probably a bit of both. One hour in, there's a conclusion of a sort and even though it would make the film short I started thinking the words that started appearing against a burnt ruined city were some kind of narrative sign off. 'Epidemic, all over the world, cannibalistic numbers malformed; The city, society, government, all fucked'. Ok. 'The remaining humans underground, above the walking dead.' Then in even more confusing bad Engrish; confusing in that half the actual dialogue is in English. 'Meanwhile to save daughter, a harmless father lost daughter into a zombie. Many forced into slavery, yet a descent turned into dark side to become ruler.' Then, '1 year later'…There was more.

The first rule of Fight Club, is you don't talk about Fight Club… I shouldn't like it, I mean I certainly don't agree with it, but Chien's one year later thirty minute Land of the Dead dystopian post-apocalypse nonsense is certainly entertaining. There's also an attempt of sorts at a larger, deeper story which I guess kind of works, albeit in a kind of ridiculous manner, and if you can continue to shrug off the casual exploitation, and don't really think too hard, or, as said talk about it.

Chien has done a good job imbuing his zero day vision with all the confusion, disbelief, impatience and unnecessary and needless death and destruction, I don't doubt would follow a short fused and short-incubation zombie tidal wave. There's a certain ambiguity to how or what actually set the whole thing off, how things spread and what the rules actually are, but we're left under no illusions that the zombies themselves are gnarly, deadly and out to get, eat a bit of, and ultimately turn you into one of their own. Effects are generally very good and visceral, albeit a tad gimmicky at times with the Steve Jackson gorometer being dialled up to stoopidly excessive and a little too much CGI blood. There's certainly a lot on offer though for one wanting oodles of realistic carnage, destruction and no holds barred zombie action.

Zombie Fight Club is a well scripted, well acted and competently put together piece of cinema, and Chien hasn't lost his knack of producing quite the show piece; action scenes especially full of energy, anxiety and verve. It is also a dark place to go chock full of gore and death with quite the sadistic streak. It would also be really easy to tear it to shreds should I over think things, but as said without critiquing too hard, I actually found much to admire and I did thoroughly enjoy all the wanton negative destruction, and even the scantily dressed girls, despite me not really feeling like I should. A pretty shitty film about shitty people being as shitty to each as possible, Chien with Zombie Fight Club has somehow again put together something one feels deserves to score much lower than it does, 6/10.


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