February 19, 2018 Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight (Movie Review)
Thanks to Epic Pictures, Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight arrives to VOD on Friday, February 23, 2018. This… is… weird? It starts off with a cuboid chicken creature turning people into zombies. That should usually warrant some attention. There is even an animated intro that acts as a story within the story. Dread Central certainly liked the film enough to make it part of their first double-feature screening in San Diego. It was shown alongside 2015’s Turbo Kid, before both went on to appear in cities across the US nation. From the neon thrill of Las Vegas, Nevada to the… um… something of Richardson, Texas.
While those audiences got to check it out early, what about the rest of the world? Once February 23rd comes, will the title live up to its promise? Is it enjoyable? For those not wanting to leap in blind, read on.
It is about two eccentric young men named Lung (Michael Ning: Port of Call 2015, The White Girl 2017) and Chi-Yeung (Kai-Chung Cheung: Ip Man 3 2015, Come On, Cousin series). They believe themselves to be the ‘Double Dragons of Heaven and Earth’ respectively – heroes that can save the world. Yet, harsh reality reveals Lung is dealing with house-moving problems, his agoraphobic aunt Shan (Carrie Ng: City on Fire 1987, Angel Whispers 2015) and his ex-con father (Alex Man: Hong Kong 1941 1984, As Tears Go By 1988). Chi-Yeung is trying to charm Shan’s niece, Chan-Yit (Cherry Ngan: Nightfall 2012, The Ghouls 2015), with his training, to no success.
Things just get more complicated when a chicken-creature from Lung’s favorite cartoon makes it into the real world and turns most of Hong Kong’s citizens into zombies. As their numbers increase, Lung and Chi-Yeung must fight their way out to safety and protect those dearest to them. Maybe they will get to save the world after all. The film is, of course, Chinese via Hong Kong. Thus, the dialogue is in Cantonese with English subtitles.
Its premise is kind of like 2004’s Shaun of the Dead but replacing the ‘rom’ in its ‘rom-zom-com’ (romantic comedy zombie film) premise with superheroes. Or 1963’s Billy Liar turned into a double act and with zombies pumped into it. It is the first feature-length film for Director Alan Lo (Zombie Guillotines 2012, After Lasik 2014), and his second as an editor, he previously edited Sammo Hung’s 2016 action film My Beloved Bodyguard. It was also the first film written by Writer Nick Cheuk (followed by 2017’s Paradox), but he was joined here by Nero Ng (Blade of Enforcer 2016, Sinking City: Capsule Odyssey 2017) and Chi Hoi Pang (Love is Elsewhere 2008, Unlock 2016).
This makes it harder to pinpoint who is to blame for the weird tonal shifts in Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight. Maybe it was one of them, two of them, or all three together. It starts off well with an even blend of humor and drama. Ning and Cheung have good chemistry as dorks with big dreams, while just being dorks to everyone else. Man does a good job as the sad sack trying to atone for hurting Carrie Ng’s Shan, who also does a strong job as the embittered aunt. Even when the horror kicks in and the zombies arise, it maintains that Shaun of the Dead-esque mix of terror, chuckles, and tension through its pacing and banter between the likes of Ning and Cheung, or Man and Ng.
However, there is an elephant in the room. Or rather, a giant cartoon, cuboid, chicken creature. Ridiculous as it is, there was a chance it could have been reined in enough to work. Instead, by the midway point, it doubles-down on the silly at the same time as the drama. The cast are doing their best to take the situation seriously, realising harsh truths here, trying to make peace there, all while the mother of all cluckers is trying to bombard them with its deadly eggs of doom and its zombie death breath. In isolation, it could be good for a giggle. Yet, as part of a full package, it feels like the tone went off the rails.
It does try to return to Earth for the ending. It does well with its twist, where it gets all introspective. Yet the ultimate result is not so satisfying. It is not awful, just not great either. Other snafus include My Shuen (Venus Wong: Good Take, Too! 2016), an action star the Double Dragons admire, appearing midway through to do little of note. There is a funny gag here, an emotional moment there. Ultimately, she is underdeveloped compared to Ng and Ngan’s characters. The editing gets quite choppy too, with a number of hard cuts or odd transitions that could have been better.
It is difficult to be hard on Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight. The first half has good characters, some solid performances, and some funny gags here and there. It makes a great first impression, but it fumbles in the middle of the second act and it does not really get back up. The drama takes the giggles out of the silly stuff, while the silly stuff takes the edge off the drama. For anyone seeking to enjoy themselves, it is best to watch it with friends and/or a few drinks to help it go down better. As such, if the first half of Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight is a 4 out 5, and the second half a 2 out 5, thus CrypticRock evens out the score to 3 out of 5 stars.