“Shit! We have zombies, a bomb, and now a giant snake! This movie is really aiming for some cash!”
Some films are designed to make you think, to contemplate life and existence, or to move you emotionally. On the other hand there are films that exist for one reason only: to entertain. Khun Krabii Hiiroh, or Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis as it is known over here, is definately the latter and unashamedly so. I came across this movie in my recent hunt for "every zombie movie ever", and when I saw the English title I just knew I had to get it, thinking to myself "how on earth have they got away with a title like that?" Describing this movie is going to prove to be quite a challenge, though. How would you describe a movie that parodies over the top action movies (including itself), breaks the fourth wall, has a sense of humour like a Spaceballs for zombie movies, and features transvestites, a giant zombie snake, a lightsaber-style sword, a ferocious zombie newborn baby, and gorgeous women running around in bondage gear or schoolgirl outfits? Well, a bit like that I guess.
Thailand announces that it is free from all forms of virus. Especially the new and deadly Sars 4, a virus that kills its victims then turns them into sharp-toothed zombies (which almost look like they would be more at home in Lumberto Bava's Demons). Of course, shortly after announcing this to the world's media all hell breaks loose when an infection breaks out in a luxury hotel block in the center of Bangkok (the location giving even more of a Demons feel to the movie). Among those trapped inside when the government seal off the building is the kidnapped schoolgirl Liu. The story, which in all honesty is just a platform for the jokes and movie references, follows the struggle to escape of Liu and Khun Krabii, a swordsman sent by Liu's father to rescue his daughter. Cue lots of zombies, gore, a sex scene that seems to be a parody of the well known “crouching tiger hidden dragon” kung fu sex scene from Chinese Torture Chamber, and a twist that'll catch you right off guard.
The bloody animated sequence that kicks off the movie is more than a little reminiscent of the sequence in Kill Bill, but is well made and effective. About thirty seconds in, with animated zombie parts flying over the screen to a Thai rock soundtrack and already some of the offbeat weirdness of the movie showing, I turrned to my movie-watching compadre and said simply "I'm going to love this movie". I wasn't wrong. Although there were also plenty of moments when we turned to each other with looks of bewilderment on our faces as if to say "what the hell are we watching here?" usually following yet another left-field change in direction of the movie, or a new prop or plot device that has suddenly turned up just as it's needed with no explanation whatsoever.
For what is obviously intended as a budget movie (at least I’m hoping so, to excuse the fact that not a single person in the movie can act for a damn), Sars Wars is pretty well put together. The gore, makeup, and other effects are generally very well done, and in the cases when they aren't they somehow just lend to the cheesy humour of the piece. The CGI isn't going to win any awards (particularly that freaky-arse baby) but when you consider how bad CGI can be in other movies it's easy to forgive the more dodgy moments. The image quality can get grainy and poor at times, particularly in low-light shots – however at other times it’s perfectly acceptable. As with everything else in this movie there is an almost compulsive lack of consistency. One thing that did grate a little, though, was that certain scenes had obviously been sped up slightly (literally as if on fast-play) and I really got the impression that that was more for the sake of runtime than actual artistic choice (as if "artistic" is a word that could even be used anywhere near this movie!).
Extras wise we get a whole slew of relatively long deleted and alternate scenes, a 6m "making of" which is really more like a promo spot, two Sars Wars trailers, two other trailers, an 8m Diskotek promo reel (which I’m fairly sure ended with a clip of a guy having sex with an animated stick-figure – but by that point my brain had given up trying to make any sense of what I was seeing!), and two music videos.
What is truly amazing about Sars Wars is that somehow it's infectious (hehe) complete lack of taking anything even remotely seriously, so you as the viewer are put firmly in your place in terms of what to expect. This movie wont enhance your life, but it could certainly enhance your Friday night. While you can enjoy this movie alone, it definately works best as a social movie - so get some of your craziest fun-loving buddies over, stock up on the beers, and prepare yourself for an evening of mindlessly entertaining hilarity and head-spinning randomness. After all, a movie that contains a photo-animated headbanging giraffe has gotta be worth a look!