Monday, July 02, 2007

Ebola Syndrome (1996) review

'A gangster Chick (WTF is a "gangster Chick"?!) smuggled into South Africa to avoid being caught. One day, he rapes and murders a black girl who is infected with a terrible Ebola virus. He has no idea that he becomes the carrier of the disease (actually, he does). Later he kills his boss couple (?!) and minces their bodies into the hamburgers. To escape from arrest, he flies back to Hong Kong and continues to spread the Ebola virus.....'

--from the back-panel notes of the Ebola Syndrome DVD

Damn the People's Republic of China for annexing Hong Kong, because we will never see a film quite as insane, hilarious and absurd as Ebola Syndrome. I have to assume that these movies (and this one in-particular) were made for geeky Asian-guys, or maybe to entertain members of the Tongs. This is for guys, not women, and sure to be turned-off by wives and girlfriends across North America, if not most of the civilized world. Naturally, this is what makes the film so good. So guys, pop-open a brewskie, kick-off your socks, and enjoy. Ladies--leave the room. Just be prepared for a hernia from laughing harder than you ever have in your entire life, this is the real-deal for you lovers of genre-movies. I am 100% certain that Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez have both watched this. Tarantino probably called it one of his many "all-time favorites," it is that good. It's very juvenile, stupid, absurd, idiotic, racist, sexist, homophobic, more xenophobic than the Japanese and rural America combined, and completely indefensible...but also a real laugh-riot because of this.

OK, so not much plot here, just lots of violence, hilarious cursing and maybe some of the most-absurd moments in HK cinema. The only other movie that could be more ridiculous would be 'The Story of Ricky', which is a classic. Kai is a screw-up worker at a Tong-owned restaurant in HK, and the boss's squeeze has been forcing-sex on him (I know, what horrible thing, but what do you do besides chew bubble-gum and kick some ass?). The Chinese mafia boss (called "Tongs") discovers Kai and his woman bonking, and decides to castrate him. Unimaginably, things get worse. Kai offers to do-it-himself as a fake-out ploy, and instead, murders everybody with a kitchen-utensil. Nice. He has to flee to somewhere else, and hey, the title is Ebola Syndrome after all. He goes to South Africa, since there are cities to shoot in, as well as the African plains and jungle (and cheap, South African extras).

Kai is there for 10 years, working-for the people who smuggled him there. The husband-and-wife restaurateurs make him do everything at this lousy job, including chopping the meat for their 'frog-rice' specialty, which sounds profoundly disgusting. You see a LOT of grue and gore in this film, and most of it is animals (vegetarian porn). Even a mouse gets run-over by a car later on in the film. Yeah, this is one the ASPCA probably have on their sh*t-list. Kai stumbles from one hilarious (and unsettling and violent) scenario to-another throughout the film, eventually returning to HK and spreading the virus everywhere he can.

The rest is about the hilarious scenery, the ride. It's possibly the funniest movie I own, and I'm not kidding about this. You have to see this before you die, it's THAT funny, a (real) punk/existentialist spit-in-the-face of the world by the filmmakers, a hilarious protest against an absurd human condition. It's deeply-misanthropic, which I can relate to. ;0) Yes ladies, horrible-things happen to women in this movie, but even worse happens to the male-characters. If there is a line, the makers of Ebola cross it every time, which is admirable.

If William S. Burroughs were alive today, he would likely say he wished he had written this--I wonder if he ever saw it? I sure hope-so. Own it, watch it, cherish it. The DVD is superb-in-quality, and it's cheap. Films like Ebola Syndrome are why there are HK fans. It's vile and bizarre but very entertaining stuff. You could NEVER do this in Hollywood, not even in most American indies. The taboo-breaking is too-much for our culture to withstand, which makes this a counterculture film to-be-sure. It even boasts a pretty good cinematography for such a cheap movie, and that's another thing to like about HK cinema, it has some great frame-composition and cinematography. The colors always seem so deep in a HK movie.

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