Friday, August 19, 2011

Ebola Syndrome (1996)

Makes "Outbreak" look like monkey business

Hong Kong, 1986: Kai (Anthony Wong) is sleeping with the boss's wife while her little girl stands out front. The boss suddenly comes home and catches them. He beats Kai, forces his wife to pee on him and then attempts to castrate the adulterer--Jerry Springer would be proud. Kai suddenly reverses the blade and kills the boss, wife and employee, while leaving the traumatized little girl soaking in gasoline when someone comes in just in the nick of time.

Johannesburg, South Africa, 1996: Kai is now working in a restaurant after fleeing China. The new boss's wife thinks he's no good but the boss says it's hard to find cheap labor, so they put up with him. Though she might just be right as he spits and ejaculates in food, as well as treats customers like they're doing him the favor of eating there. Kai carries a terrible smell around with him and can't get laid by white women nor Asian, even with cash in hand. The boss and him visit an out of reach African tribe called Zulu to secure some pigs at a cheap price and on the way back Kai decides to take advantage of a woman who just looks at first drunk. Yet, when she convulses and spits in his face he comes down with something that would play out quicker than AIDS. Kai contracts the organ-melting Ebola virus, yet with the exception of a high fever doesn't have the other symptoms as it turns out he's an incredibly rare carrier type. Soon enough things go for the sleaziest with rape, murder and then serving up the chopped up meat to patrons at the restaurant in the form of "African Buns" that look like hamburgers. After an outbreak of the Ebola virus at Kai's unsanitary hand, he heads back to Hong Kong with cash taken from the dead boss and a fresher smell. The sleaze continues when he picks up prostitutes and they contract the virus. With an outbreak on the rise, HK detectives--with the help of the little girl now grown up--start to back-track to find the man responsible for now bringing havoc to China.

There have been rapists and murderers in other films aplenty, though not many movies include the mentioned and then also have the guy feed human meat to unsuspecting humans, and then none that I know of that includes a real known virus--zombie films don't count--to spread his destructive behavior even further. It's an all time low for the human species, but an all time high for ways to single handedly reap devastation. The film has some shocks but one thing it lacks is suspense, as the camera focuses too much on Kai's character for his every move and even the element where the good guys attempt to stop him is delayed to see more carnage. Essentially what the audience gets is more of the bloody disgusting and less heroics that other films are dominant with when it comes to amoral subjects. The experience sails over the top due to the score card for the villain being nearly a shut out for the good guys.

If you're looking for sharp acting and crisp dialogue you won't find that here. The full uncut version I'm reviewing is for a Dutch DVD that includes terrible English subtitles that sometimes don't even make sense as some appear to be translated as is. Though the story isn't likely to get confusing. This has an extremely odd sense of humor at times, that ranges from somewhat light to pitch black. Wong makes some of the most ridiculous faces while doing his deplorable deeds. The events unfold more straightforward than "Untold Story." Wong plays a degenerate in both films, though he's more of just a perverted slacker than the goal-oriented, manipulative sociopath he was in "Untold Story." In both cases still a scumbag by any stretch. Though his performance in that film held more mysteriousness for what he'll do next and was more effectively creepy as such. What "Ebola Syndrome" did do better is it included a more consistent tone where the humor isn't entirely goofy to the point of distracting. This again plays on how much trust we give to people handling and serving our food to the point of making you give a few more glances at who's prepping your meal next time out. Not to mention it takes it further by making public places a hazard, where viruses and diseases are rampant and just a sneeze away from being infected and meeting a violent end.

Rating: 7/10

Director: Herman Yau (Taxi Hunter, The Untold Story)
Stars: Anthony Wong
Links: IMDB

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