Director: Joe Chien
Cast: Yvonne Yao, Morris Rong, Tai Bo, Jack Kao, Dennis To, Jackson Liu
RunTime: 1 hr 26 mins
Rating: R21 (Gore And Sexual Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 6 June 2013
Synopsis: A virus gets loose in Taipei. Army and SWAT teams oversee evacuation but in Ximending the gangs don't want the police. They attack the military but when both find themselves under attack by zombies there is an alliance as they try and escape.
‘Zombie 108’ is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is a good movie.
Billed as Taiwan cinema’s first zombie film, it is on the surface a survival story built on a shaky alliance between a SWAT team and a local mafia gang who team up to fight the hordes of walking dead. That’s a promising premise no doubt, one seemingly ripe for a taut and tense thriller that you are probably expecting.
But what potential you might have thought writer/ director Joe Chien’s movie had going for it quickly disappears like the life within one of them flesh-eating fiends. First off, the way it is shot is terrible. Opting for lots of shaky cam and quick shots, there is little excitement to be had in any of the zombie mayhem, especially since there is little continuity or coherence to the way it unfolds.
Then, almost immediately, one realises that Chien is absolutely clueless about how to develop his story. Sure there are the occasional flare-ups between the cops and gangsters, but the petty arguments rarely add up to anything much. There is also not one character- whether on the right or wrong side of the law - that possesses anything akin to personality; and most ingratiatingly, the events seem to unfold in such random disorientating fashion that you will quickly grow frustrated trying to make sense of what is going on.
If that is bad, then wait till you hear about the second half of the movie. Yes, there are two parts to Chien’s film, stitched together as badly as the zombies in it look. Besides the SWAT/ gangster alliance, another significant half of the movie is essentially a sexploitation flick that is none too subtle and likely to offend feminists and non-feminists alike. In a grungy basement, we are shown how a sadistic pervert has kidnapped two women and takes turns humiliating, raping and torturing them.
One of these women is the very first lady we glance in the movie, Linda (model Yvonne Yao), who wakes up after a car accident to a deserted street in Taipei, wanders into a Carrefour supermarket searching for her missing daughter, and runs into a pack of zombies inside. Yes, picked up by said pervert with her daughter, she is shackled in his basement and forced to perform oral sex on him; but that isn’t as bad as her other companion, who is tied to a table and injected with ‘zombie poision’ just so he can experience what it is like to have sex with a zombie.
That subplot plays out like torture porn and is indeed disturbing on an elemental level. Chien’s misogynistic tendencies are also obvious in the way any woman for that matter is portrayed - and from topless pole dancing lesbians to cops to mafia wives, the preference for any character of the female gender to show as much skin as possible is impossible to ignore.
By that sheer fact, Chien’s film descends from bad to detestable. Under the guise of Taiwan’s first zombie movie, Chien has made a thinly disguised sexploitation flick that goes way beyond its incoherent plot and clumsy direction to a whole different level of objectionable. Never mind that it was crowdfunded for NT$10 million, it is just tasteless sleaze and gore masquerading as a bona fide movie. Avoid at all costs.
(Beyond the incoherent plot and clumsy direction, this is a thinly disguised sexploitation movie made by a misogynist that is objectionable and plain distasteful)
Review by Gabriel Chong