WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS!
If you look at the history of zombie cinema, the flesh-eating fiends we’ve all come to love and know have their roots firmly planted in American culture. While George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD wasn’t the first zombie flick ever made (I believe that distinction goes to 1932’s WHITE ZOMBIE), it did lay the groundwork for the modern zombie film. Since NIGHT’s debut in 1968, it seems like every country on Earth has taken a crack at their own version of the flesh-eating undead.
Which brings me to a recent Taiwanese entry into the sub-genre: ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB. In the past, I’ve watched various Asian zombie flicks (such as WILD ZERO, BIO-ZOMBIE, and VERSUS), but most have been rather disappointing. I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing, or if I’ve been missing out on all the legitimately good movies, but I’ve never been too impressed with Asian zombie fare.
So when the chance to watch and review ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB came along, I approached it with caution. Sadly, it turns out that my apprehension was warranted.
The movie begins in the not-too-distant future after a zombie apocalypse. The undead rule the surface world, while the remnants of humanity struggle to survive underground. But before you can become acclimated to the post-apocalypse, the movie suddenly drags viewers back in time to the moments leading up to the undead epidemic. The “Zom-pocalypse” begins when a rapper named Tiger (MC Hotdog) begins celebrating the release of his new album at a friend’s apartment. This involves having a mini-orgy with several ladies that have taken a mysterious blue pill.
Said drug (mistakenly presumed to be “bath salts”) turns Tiger’s lady-friends into voracious zombies. Soon the zombies spread through the apartment complex, dining on a variety of oddball (and often stupid) characters. And then the movie goes completely off the rails, as we’re assaulted by several intersecting plot threads, with most of them ultimately leading to nothing.
A S.W.A.T. team infiltrates the apartment complex to rob a gang of drug dealers, when things go terribly wrong. Three of the cops escape the botched bust and the growing horde of zombies. Two of them become violent rapists, and pay the price for their indiscretions. The third one, Andy (played by Andy On) attempts to rescue the film’s resident cleavage-queen, Jessy (Jessica Cambensy), and escape the zombie-infested structure.
Also living in the building is a guy attempting to ransom a kidnap victim. After losing his intended cash-cow and his girlfriend to the ranks of the walking dead, he commits “propane-seppuku,” and effectively nukes a hallway full of zombies. Elsewhere in the complex is the film’s best character: A cranky crippled war vet that owns a pair of hydraulic robotic legs and a chainsaw. (He’s easily the most memorable part of the entire movie, and it sucks that he plays such small part!)
So once you’ve ingested all of this insanity, the film suddenly leaps ahead to the future where Andy and Jessy are part of the “Zombie Fight Club.” Essentially they are slaves and are forced to battle zombies in an underground arena. If they win they will be rewarded with food and water. If not… well, I’m pretty sure you know what the alternative is.
As the film speeds to its conclusion, Andy and Jessy must fight (and screw) their way to possible freedom from their twisted captors. But even if they succeed, how will they possibly survive in a world gone mad, that’s populated almost exclusively by the undead?!
ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB is a total mess, and one of the worst films I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s tonally uneven, going from a somewhat comedic zombie action romp, to a dark and dreary tale of loss and woe, to a post-apocalyptic nightmare. It never quite manages to balance things out, resulting in a final product that feels like a series of movie plots that were haphazardly slapped together.
The first hour of ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB clearly borrows ideas from QUARANTINE (people trapped in an apartment complex with “the infected”) and THE RAID (unauthorized police raid on drug dealers), and even steals one of the best gags from COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES. It’s a compilation of moments from films I would rather be watching, and that’s just one relatively minor complaint on my laundry list of issues with this film.
Speaking of which….
The movie has some great zombie makeup f/x, but all of the gore, and majority of flesh-eating, is created with an overabundance of unconvincing CGI. The characters are poorly written and forgettable, to the point where I had to go to the film’s IMDB page to try and figure out who was who. And on top of all that, the movie spends way too much time telling us how the “Zom-pocalypse” occurs. You have to wait a full hour before the film finally delivers the much-promised zombie-brawling. Then it ends a half-hour later, leaving you feeling cheated.
I really did want to like ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB, but it just didn’t measure up to my (lowered) expectations. The movie takes itself way too seriously, wastes too much time with its set-up, and never bothers to build any characters we can actually root for. While it isn’t a total waste (several leads put noticeable effort into their roles, plus some of the humor actually works) ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB does not get a recommendation for yours truly.
If you’re in the mood for a zombie flick, look elsewhere because this movie is just barely worthy of:
Packaging: ZOMBIE FIGHT CLUB comes in a standard amaray Blu-ray case with cardboard slipcover featuring a new (and misleading) cover. (Pictured on the top left of this review.) As is the case with most Scream Factory releases, this title comes with a reversible sleeve featuring alternate cover art.
Audio & Video: The disc features a clean transfer, and shows the film in its original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. Since this is a newer movie, and (presumably) shot with digital cameras, it looks pretty good. Both audio tracks on the disc are DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and you can choose English-dubbed, or Mandarin/English with subtitles. All dialogue, sound effects, explosions, and heavy metal music came through just fine on my surround speakers. I really have nothing to complain about here.
Extras: This disc is probably the most bare-bones Scream Factory release in my collection. All we get is the theatrical trailer, and a very short throwaway Zombie Fight Club Stunts featurette, that showcases some behind-the-scenes footage of several of the film’s action sequences.
Final Verdict: I’ve got to say that this is one of my least favorite additions to Scream Factory’s growing catalog. While I can’t say anything bad about the film’s presentation, the movie itself, and the distinct lack of special features doesn’t exactly make this a “must own” disc. Honestly, unless you’re a hardcore Scream Factory fan who is trying to own every title they release, don’t bother with this one. It’s a serviceable Blu-ray for a film you’ll watch once and forget, which earns it a rating of: