Director – Wang I-Fan – 2020 – Taiwan – 96m
The Taiwanese Parliament must contain a zombie outbreak caused by a rabies outbreak at a chemical plant (!) – playing in the UK as part of the Chinese Visual Festival which runs until Sunday, July 25th
Hsiung Ying Ying (Megan Lai) got into the Taiwanese Parliament as an MP to fight gangster politician Li Kuo-Chung (Chung-Huang Wang) over an environmentally unfriendly chemical plant where she lives which she wants to shut down. And now it’s spawned a rabies outbreak which infected the President on an official visit. Things are already pretty heated in the Parliament building when the President goes full zombie and the infection spreads rapidly throughout the large meeting room which is promptly sealed with those people inside.
In a six months earlier flashback, the hot-tempered Ying Ying gets into a fight with a security guard Wang You-wei (Bruce Ho) on the premises while the media’s cameras are present. As a result, she is forced to resign and a by-election held. Wishing to retain the power of an MP, she persuades the basically honest but naive Wang who is secretly in love with her to stand as her ‘puppet’ to support her fight against the plant.
Her plan backfires when in order to impress her he sides with Li’s ‘Better Generation’ pro-plant lobby in the misguided belief that that will bring him (her) more power. When the zombie incident erupts six months later, this irreconcilable conflict is well under way.
Her father Mr. Hsiung (Tuo Chung-hua from Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007; The Day The Sun Turned Cold, Yim Ho, 2004) has had enough and wants to assassinate the president. Also in the mix is a minor bureaucrat Wang Feng-Hua (Francesca Kau) who makes life difficult for ex-MP Ying Ying by following rules to the letter and coincidentally later consents to sex with Ying Ying’s father in a storage room near what is about to become the zombie outbreak, meaning that the pair of them plus the ex-MP and her puppet MP become the group fleeing / fighting the zombies in the Parliament building. Elsewhere in various corridors and rooms, the Li his cronies are fleeing / fighting the zombies as a separate group, although at times they almost seem to be egging them on.
Although the flashback goes back six months to explore what happened to several characters from before the zombie incident, it feels more like an adventure which lasts several days.
While there’s an undeniable pleasure in seeing a government building overrun by zombies, the political comment is not especially subtle. Moreover, the Chinese knockabout comedy style sits uneasily with horror and a reality TV feel to much of the mayhem. The zombie outbreak, which takes up a lot of the running length, feels very much like many films from the 1960s in which the characters lose their inhibitions and mayhem ensues. The zombies here feel more like performers in an anarchic romp than a threat to human society. It doesn’t use its geographical confinement anything like as effectively as Train To Busan (Yeon Sang-ho, 2016).
A bold attempt at doing something very different which, for this writer, doesn’t really come off.
Get The Hell Out plays in the UK as part of the Chinese Visual Festival which runs until Sunday, July 25th.