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SARS War

With a title like "SARS War," this Thai action-horror comedy was never going to be a paragon of good taste, but as the narrative accelerates and bodycount rises, pic succeeds in being mirthfully offensive. Few horror fans will be looking for (or find) any originality in the zombies-run-riot yarn but the film does have a ramshackle charm. On December release, pic garnered insignificant B.O.; it deserves a significant afterlife as a late-night attraction on the fest circuit.

With:
With: Tep Pho-ngam, Supakorn Kitsuwan, Somlek Sakdikul, Leena Christensen, Phintusuda Tunphairao, Andrew Biggs.

With a title like “SARS War,” this Thai action-horror comedy was never going to be a paragon of good taste, but as the narrative accelerates and bodycount rises, pic succeeds in being mirthfully offensive. Few horror fans will be looking for (or find) any originality in the zombies-run-riot yarn but the film does have a ramshackle charm. On December release, pic garnered insignificant B.O.; it deserves a significant afterlife as a late-night attraction on the fest circuit.

Sometime in the future, a bug which feeds on SARS 4-infected corpses in Africa flits across the world, invading an ex-pat businessman in Thailand (Andrew Biggs). Transformed into an infectious zombie, he turns on his neighbors (and their pets), kicking off an exponentially exploding population of the undead. Meanwhile, Liu (Phintusuda Tunphairao), the beautiful daughter of a crime boss, is kidnapped by a gang of rival thieves, lead by Yai (Somlek Sakdikul).

Master Tep (Tep Pho-ngam), aka The Green Tea Blade Master, is put on the case but, due to his old age, dispatches his inexperience acolyte, Khun Krabi (Supakorn Kitsuwan), instead. Bungling all the way, Khun Krabi traces the kidnappers to the same apartment block where the SARS 4 outbreak is in full flight.

As the two storylines collide, both hero and villains attempt to escape the rampant zombies with the kidnapped Liu. Meanwhile, Dr. Diane (Leena Christensen), who helped halt SARS 3, is given a dawn deadline to neutralise the zombies. If the medico doesn’t succeed by sunrise, the Bangkok government will blow up the building.

Yarn gets increasingly confused as it appropriates elements from films as diverse as “Braindead,” “Star Wars” and “Anaconda,” but nothing gets in the way of excessive gore and sexual innuendo. As pic nears its chaotic finale, weariness sets in with the viewer.

Acting is as shamelessly loose as the production itself, but Sakdikul and elder statesmen of Thai comedy Pho-ngam convincingly deliver all the absurdity and give good support to the less experienced main cast. Helming is adequate, though in international version caught editing was slapdash, even cutting the legs off some funny gags. Original theatrical version was some 15 minutes longer.

Thai title refers to Khun Krabi’s zombie adventure and hints at producer’s original intention to make this the first in a franchise.

SARS War

Thailand

Production: A Sahamongkol presentation of a Film Bangkok, Chalermthai Studio, 4 Views House production, in association with Bec-Tero-Entertainment. (International sales: Han Media, Bangkok.) Produced by Adirek "Uncle" Wattaleela, Akradech "Kim" Maneeploypech. Executive producers, Prasarn Maleenont, Brian L. Marcar, Wattaleela. Directed by Taweewat Wanta. Screenplay, Wanta, Kuanchon Phemyad, Sommai Lert-Ularn, Adirek "Uncle" Wattaleela.

Crew: Camera (color), Art Srithongkul; editor, Dr. Head; music, Atmosphere; production designer, Rachata Panpayak; costume designer, Ekasit Meeprasertsakul; special visual effects, Imagimax Animation & Design Studio; sound (Dolby Digital Surround Ex), Kantana Animation. Reviewed at Bangkok Film Festival (Thai Panorama), Jan. 15, 2005. Running time: 93 MIN. (International version, Thai dialogue)

With: With: Tep Pho-ngam, Supakorn Kitsuwan, Somlek Sakdikul, Leena Christensen, Phintusuda Tunphairao, Andrew Biggs.

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