Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

April 9th, 2001 Issue #51

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

(2000; Jing's Production) 5/10

Cover art courtesy Mei Ah.

Sang fa dut ging: Song si yam mo

Sheng hua te jing: Sang shi ren wu

Bio-Special Police: Operation Zombie

Despite the presence of Sam Lee Chan-sam, this horror/comedy/thriller has no real connection to Wilson Yip Wai-shun's wonderful BIO-ZOMBIE but is still fairly enjoyable on its own terms.

Sam Lee Chan-sam. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

At an army depot in Texas, scientist Harry (Benny Lai Chun) heads a team working to develop "painless warriors," virtually indestructible soldiers who do not require sleep or food. However, after the formula undergoes an unexpected mutation, one of the green-blooded, zombie-like creatures (Jude Poyer) bites Harry, who then returns to HK to seek help from former lover Bell (ATV starlet Alice Chan Wai, who is a dead ringer for a young Anita Mui Yim-fong). Meanwhile, cop Marco (Stephen Fung Tak-lun) finds the misery of being dumped by his girlfriend heightened first by obnoxious goo wak jai Cheap (Lee) and then, later, by his flagrantly incompetent superior at work (Hui Shiu-hung).

Stephen Fung Tak-lun. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

As his body begins to change, Harry is unable to control his urges and goes after a hooker belonging to Hung Hing boss, Brother Kow (Frankie Ng Chi-hung). Upon having his way with the girl, Harry kills her and is attacked by Kow and his men (including the cowardly Cheap). They all end up arrested by Marco and partner Milky (Ronald Wong Pan), who deposit them in the station's lock-up. Reaching the final stage of transformation, Harry proceeds to bite everyone in his midst, instantly transforming them into "Zombie New Humans," who lay siege to the station. Gun-wielding tough girl Bell (who used to date Harry) and her younger sister, May (Marco's ex), join the fray, in an attempt to put a stop to this plague of zombies before all of HK becomes infected. While the newly transformed dead can be dealt with, it will take something a lot more powerful to stop Harry, as mere bullets can no longer harm him.

(From left to right) Hui Shiu-hung, Frankie Ng Chi-hung, and Benny Lai Chun. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Like most HK quickies these days, BIO-COPS has about a dozen things wrong with it. There is not enough story for a feature length film, so the first half is padded out with superfluous conversations that have little pay-off. The make-up is uninspired and sloppily applied (often leaving the actors' neck and upper arms exposed), and there is a particularly egregious continuity error involving a severed finger. There are also no real scares but that is par for the course with local horror films these days. On a more positive note, veteran screenwriter Roy Szeto Cheuk-hon (ZU WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN) serves up a handful of genuine laughs (particularly a gag about illegal immigrants masquerading as Mainland soldiers) and, once the carnage in the station begins, there is almost always a worthwhile moment to help make up for the missteps.

Alice Chan Wai. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Considering that the movie hit HK theatres only a month after it went before the cameras, the visuals are on par with director Steve Cheng Wai-man's earlier horror opuses (including HOROSCOPE I & II and EROTIC NIGHTMARE) and the ending, while certainly derivative, remains reasonably effective. The ubiquitous Samuel Leung Cheuk-moon and Chan Wai-ming (who plays Bell's sister) co-star.

DVD Specs:

Mei Ah #DVD-381
Dolby Digital (5.1 and 2.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Optional English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified) Subtitles
9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.66:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category IIB (for horror violence and gore, and some sexual content)
88 Minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mei Ah.

The picture looks sharp and quite colorful, marred only by one instance of mild smearing. As usual, the 5.1 audio just widens the mono sound mix and is little different from the original; the Mandarin track is distractingly studio bound. The only extra is a trailer for CLEAN MY NAME, MR. CORONER! and Mei Ah still is not bothering to provide time functions on their discs.

Benny Lai and Chan Wai-ming. Image courtesy Mei Ah.

Copyright © John Charles 2000, 2001. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review