DVD Review: Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis
We’re going to start this DVD review with a recap of Todd’s write-up for this film from the Fantasia Festival this summer… it's just better to lead in with this
When voluptuous high school girl Liu is kidnapped by a gang of thugs, her family turns not to the police for help, but to the super heroic, sword-wielding, virginal warrior Khun. His task is to infiltrate the apartment block Liu is being held in, rescue her from her captors and return her safely to her family. Making this rather more difficult, however, is the new, military-engineered strain of the SARS virus which has been released into the same building. No simple respiratory disease, this, the new super-virus transforms its victims into shambling, bloodthirsty zombies, and before long, Khun, his master, leather-clad military scientist Dr. Diana and Liu are battling their way through hordes of the undead. Let the bloodletting begin!
The Zomedy, Sars Wars, released on DVD by Discotek, is chock-block zombie zaniness and absurdness from start to finish during its’ 95 minute run-time. Tongue in cheek doesn’t quite describe what you’re watching. Tongue THROUGH cheek is much, much better and more appropriate given the context. There is no taking this movie seriously. You can’t. Try to make anything of it and you’ll miss the point. The point is simply this. Have fun. Sars Wars isn’t saying, ‘Look, we can make social commentary too’, or, ‘Look how clever we are mixing together a smack of genres’. Sars Wars simply exists so that Thailand can enter the Zombie nation and hold its own. Sars Wars is as infectious as its plot device; hide the antibacterial soap and let Sars Wars infect you!
There is no hiding the fact that writer-director Taweewat Wantha and his team love movies. And not just zombie movies. The references to a multitude of zombie films is too numerous to count. And yes, you cannot name your film Sars Wars and think not to include a Star Wars parody in it. There is even a nod to QT and Production I.G. and their Kill Bill animated sequence. And the animation in the opening sequence and tribute though weak in comparison to other contributions to the form are still very effective. Sars Wars flat-out entertains from start to finish. And while some of the humor may be lost on non-Asian viewers most of the humor does transcend cultures. But there is blood. Oh is there lots of blood. Everything you want in zombie violence is clear and present in Sars Wars. You will not be left wanting for more zombie violence when this is over.
Surprisingly, the extras on Discotek’s release are really good. No apologies for saying that because most Asian DVD releases from western DVD houses usually have me wanting more when it comes to their extras. Though the Deleted Scenes were omitted clearly because they would have detracted from the pace of the film they offer some, if I may, fleshing out [chuckle snort] of the story prior to the zombie manifestation. You will also get two trailers, one of which encourages you to take toilet paper to the theatre because you will empty your bowels in your pants you will be laughing so hard. I kid you not. There are two music videos, one of which the lead singer rings up big déjà vu on the Brandon Lee/The Crow scale. You’ll know it when you see it. And the Making Of featurette though small in length is just as furious in its pace as its parent film.
My exposure to Thai film being minimal, until I learn more about it there is still an aspect of Thai film that may confuse viewers as it does me, when regarding the censorship in the movie. What may confuse the viewer is how can a film contain so much gore and violence and yet wimp out when it comes to sexuality presented on film [thankfully though the male characters in one scene had strategically placed mosaics]. This is even more confusing when I have seen other films where weapons have been covered with mosaics as well. First this is a damn shame because both the supporting actresses, Phintusuda Tunphairao [Liu] and Lene Christensen [Diana] are smoking hot, their sexuality even more heightened by a school girl uniform and PVC hot pants, something the fan boys will sure appreciate. But that’s all you’re going to get. It’s as if the makers of Sars Wars were trying to push the envelope and challenging the censorship board. What gets even more confusing are the Kathoey or Transsexual jokes in the film. The candidacy in which these jokes are delivered in a film that still censors men in their underpants is somewhat baffling. It raises questions that cannot be answered, nor really should they be even asked, when watching this film. This issue is outside of this film and should in no way detract from your viewing pleasure. Though, more of Phintsusuda and Lene would be more pleasurable.
All in all, I give kudos to Discotek for an awesome release. Sars Wars is immensely satisfying and fun. It is a worthy addition to any zombie movie lovers’ collection. And remember, Diana is a doctor.
Original Thai Language
Dolby Digital 5.1
16 x 9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Behind the scenes
Buy this DVD at Amazon