Zombie Fight Club (HK 2014)

Rating: *
Review Date: 5/4/15
Cast: Andy On, Jessica Cambensy, Terence Yin, Michael Wong, MC HotDog, Candy Yuen

A stupid and pointless exercise in depravity and gratuitous excess. A seedy apartment building becomes the site of a massive zombie outbreak when one of the tenants receives a packet of "bath salts" from a friend in Los Angeles. For whatever contrived reasons, a douchebag rapper named Tiger (MC HotDog) decides to crash at his place with his posse of whores, and they pop the pills. Much to Tiger's surprise, the girls turn into flesh craving zombies while he's having sex with them, and pretty soon the building is crawling with infected undead. At the same time, another tenant (Terence Yin) is busy torturing someone that he kidnapped in order to collect ransom money, and a corrupt SWAT commander (Michael Wong) is raiding a drug cartel that has a hideout in the building in order to steal their cash. Only Andy On has a shred of moral decency, and he abandons Wong's misguided mission in an attempt to save civilian lives and contain the zombie threat. Somehow in all of the insanity, pretty Jessica Cambensy manages to survive long enough for Andy to come to her rescue, and they make a daring escape to get out of the building.

This would have made a fine ending, but instead, the film shifts gears and goes completely off the rails. With nearly all of humanity wiped out, the survivors have been forced to live underground. Andy and Jessica are captured and enslaved by a sadistic madman, who forces them to fight against the undead in arena battles for his profit and amusement. The bad guy sets his carnal sites on Jessica, while the head jailer (Candy Yuen) wants Andy as her personal plaything. Things go from bad to worse, and the zombies eventually get the upper hand.

Zombie movies can get away with a lot because the genre is typically just a platform for nihilistic character study and social commentary. You basically throw a bunch of people into a horrific life-or-death situation just to see how they'll react and what they'll do to survive. It's very base and voyeuristic, but you still need some sort of narrative structure to make it compelling and emotionally engaging. In that regard, "Zombie Fight Club" is a completely incoherent cinematic mess. It lacks structure, direction, logic, common sense, and self consistency. It's essentially just 95 minutes of poorly executed gore porn, as the human survivors hack and slash their way through endless hordes of ravenous undead.

The film uses a lot of CGI gore effects, which aren't very interesting. You can create some amazingly outrageous and disgusting effects with CGI, but it just doesn't look convincing when you try to blend it with real actors. There's no suspension of disbelief and the end result looks like footage from a video game like "Resident Evil" or "House Of The Dead." I suppose I shouldn't criticize a film for getting the most that it can out of whatever technology is available, but CGI can be a very hard sell - especially when it draws attention to itself. The acting is fair, but not overly demanding. Jessica Cambensy spends a lot of time screaming and cowering, while everyone else just yells "FUCK!" a lot (which is interesting since it's a Chinese film). Speaking of Ms. Cambensy, she is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous for the first half of the film, but not so much in the second half. It's amazing how much of a difference a bad wig can make. Unfortunately, there's nothing especially endearing about her character, and the only reason you want her to survive is because she's pretty.

It's a very action heavy film, but the action isn't particularly satisfying. The entire first half of the movie plays out like "The Raid" (2011) with zombies, featuring lots of frantic close quarters combat and an excessive amount of blood and dismemberment. It's fast and intense, but the overuse of digital gore is distracting and difficult to connect with. Andy On is a good physical performer, but even his fight scenes aren't very fun to watch. It's pretty much a complete waste of time and talent that fails to deliver any real thrills.