“SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis” – Chris Luedtke

The stats quo of zombie films has since been established. From vampires to werewolves, any sort of supernatural mutation has experienced its prophets and will always have those peers that can’t compare. But what about those other films that take the idea and build off of the norm? SARS Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis is the kind of film that uses its knowledge of where zombie epidemics have spread before in order to put a big ol’ smile on your face.

When a group of thugs capture Lui (Phintusuda Tunphairao) and demand a ransom, it’s up to Master Thep (Suthep Po-ngam) to get her back. Although he claims to be retired, Thep agrees to help. His answer to the problem: his top student, Khun Krabii (Supakorn Kitsuwon). However, during the rescue mission, a zombified SARS strain works its way into the picture, complicating matters and forcing police to intervene. With the help of sexy chemist Dr. Diana (Lena Christensen), it will take all of the hipness the group can muster to make it out of this pickle alive.

I honestly rented SARS Wars on name alone. But certain films get us like that, and I was constantly surprised by its consistently “out there” quality. Is its zaniness comparable to Dead Alive? Yes. SARS Wars takes us on a unique trip that emphasizes a self-aware cheekiness that can’t be denied. The film feels a little dry as it opens, until you receive a sudden jolt of what you’re getting yourself into. You couldn’t wipe away my smirk at that point.

I should make the disclaimer that SARS Wars isn’t for the gore crowd. Sorry, but speaking as a gorehound myself, this is pretty tame. It’s not that the film spills a couple of drops of the red stuff and slams on the brakes; it’s more like one bucket appearing when two are anticipated. But even if you’ve got blood on the brain, don’t let that deter you from seeing it. The comedy and zombies are the major draw here. Both are amazing. You won’t bust a gut, but you will find yourself in a few situations where you’ll reel back in laughter. It’s a special sort of magic.

The only setback in SARS Wars is that there isn’t a very interesting plot. Still, being a zombie film, I didn’t go in expecting an abundance of story anyway. The film is able to mask this with its colorful characters, constant carnage and witty remarks (“Oh, no…made in Thailand…”). SARS Wars has a snarky attitude that gives it an edge over other horror comedies. Imagine the badassery of Army of Darkness combined with the outright madness of Dead Alive.

SARS Wars is a film that stays on the entertaining side of campy. Anyone looking for class and sophistication are better off shuffling back to their Criterion Collections.

Rating: ★★★½

-Chris Luedtke

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