From the jump you know that 2004’s Sars Wars is going to be awesome and give your friends and family yet another reason to ostracize you. The opening credits play out like a Saturday Morning Cartoon gone rabid. A swordsman chopping zombies while popping motorcycle wheelies. I’ll take that over Pokémon every time. Sometimes alternatively titled as Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis, this horror action comedy explains that the SARS Virus has mutated, evolving into a new strain that has a surprising new side effect; it brings the dead back to life as flesh chomping, super strong Vampire Zombies! The virus spreads from Africa through the wayward travels of a hornet/cockroach/mosquito to land in Thailand.
It’s in Thailand that we meet an old fist fighter named Master Thep, called on by a local businessman named Lao. His daughter, Lui, has been kidnapped by Yai, a neighborhood crime boss, and is being held for ransom. Master Thep employs his top student, Khun Krabi, to search out and rescue Lui. Sounds simple enough, right? Now let’s add a healthy dose of Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive, a transvestite, and a giant mutated python named Albert for shits and giggles.
As the virus spreads and infects the populace, the government scrambles to contain the outbreak. As Khun tracks down Lui and the bad guys to their warehouse hide-out, the zombies are quickly in tow. Now outnumbered, Master Thep must come to the aid of his student with the help of Dr. Diane, a scientist that apparently enjoys wearing bondage gear under her bio-containment suit. Soon with the walking dead sucking more brains than reality television, and the only chance of survival is for the criminals and the crime fighters to join forces or end up junk food. A bear with a shotgun, Benny Hill sound effects, blurred male nudity, animated flashbacks, and a kick-ass school girl that needs saving paired to a rock and roll soundtrack soon adds up for some of the most serious WTF glory ever to be experienced. The parallels to Tarantino’s Kill Bill throughout are enough to make you look at your DVD cases to see which one came first.
The effects are worthwhile, blending practical make-up and gallons of blood with elements of CGI, when the budget warrants it. It’s an effective blend, where the gore is real and the computers pick up the slack for doing what human beings can’t deliver in this low budget splatter fest. The zombie designs are a unique take on classic fare, twitchy and energetic with a touch of what the Eastern film market thinks a vampire should look like. The influences of Star Wars and The Matrix in this production are taken to the furthest extremes of absurdity, but they also serve as a foundation for this film to jump off of and roundhouse kick your pork rind munching face.
This flick is definitely for those that enjoy a bit of fanfare with their horror. It especially holds it own against its American counterparts as a foreign film. This is where the bar should be set for the Sci-Fi Channel the next time they think about making another movie. I would consider this movie the bastard baby of Shaun of the Dead and The Story of Ricky or even Kung Fu Hustle and Evil Dead. Especially if that baby had a 105 fever without getting proper medical attention. I blame rap music.
The action is fun and stylized, mixed with plenty of gun play and sword fights like a comic book come alive. Imagine Die Hard on MSG and PCP and you might not even have to watch this, though there’s a lot more there to be lost in translation. The laughs come at you like a foreign exchange student reenacting the movie Airplane, and the scares worthy of your kid sister, especially if she appreciates arterial blood spray with her decapitations and zombie fetuses. Tell her I said hello. This film is the type of gesture Joe Bob Briggs would use to broker peace treaties if he was elected to the United Nations.
In the end you can always feel better about yourself after watching this foreign born zombie epic. Remember subtitles are good for your brain.