We all knew this was coming: a completely over-the-top
horror-exploitation movie about the Ebola virus! This film premiered
back in 1996, but itís obviously far more topical nowadays.
Hong Kongís extremely prolific Herman Yau is known for
over-the-top fare: among the 50-plus films heís directed are notorious
Category III (the Hong Kong equivalent of the NC-17 rating) sickies like
THE UNTOLD STORY, TAXI HUNTER (both 1993) and
GONG TAU (2007). EBOLA SYNDROME (YI BOH
LAI BENG DUK), starring Yau regular Anthony Wong, was apparently
conceived as a knock-off of 1995ís OUTBREAK, and outdoes that film in
every possible respect.
In Hong Kong the psychopathic Kai is caught screwing a
powerful mob bossís wife--by the boss himself! Kai is beaten, pissed on
and nearly castrated, but manages to turn the tables, killing his
attackers and the woman before taking off.
Years later Kai is ensconced in South Africa, employed
as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. There heís confronted by a lot of
racism as well as his managerís thoroughly unpleasant wife, who
admittedly despises Kai. Also residing in the area is a young woman who
as a child witnessed the massacre that drove Kai from Hong Kong.
One day Kai and his manager head off to buy some cheap
meat from a Zulu tribe. While doing so Kai decides to rape a passed-out
Zulu woman, who comes to as sheís being violated, forcing Kai to kill
her. As sheís dying she spits in his face, and so infects him with the
Ebola virus. He becomes violently ill, which only lasts briefly; heís
now the carrier of the virus, and as such wastes no time putting his
nastier predilections into action.
Kai kills his manager and rapes the latterís wife. He
then chops up the corpses and, after offing a nosy restaurant employee,
turns the corpses into hamburgers which he serves to diners the
following day--unwittingly spreading Ebola in the process.
The following day Kai, flush with his deceased bossís
money, heads back to Hong Kong. There he bangs two whores and
inadvertently infects several people with his saliva. Authorities, with
the help of the young woman who escaped Kaiís clutches, manage to track
him down, but not before he infects quite a few more people and kicks
off a full-blown Ebola epidemic.
In this film Herman Yau makes his intentions clear
early on: the opening twenty minutes contain lurid depictions of sex,
murder, mass brutality, child abuse, urination, vomiting, masturbation
and mondo footage of frogs sliced up, not to mention some ugly
depictions of the type of casual racism that marked the apartheid era in
South Africa (adding to the madness is the subtitled translation of the
opening line of dialogue: a woman telling her kid to ďgo play with
yourselfĒ). The outrages donít stop there, with chicken head ripping,
rape, necrophilia, eyeball gouging, decapitation, dismemberment,
cannibalism and a graphically depicted autopsy; and for good measure,
thereís even a close-up of a mouse being crushed by the wheel of a cab
as it pulls up to a curb.
In classic Hong Kong movie fashion the film is
extremely kinetic, with fast pacing and extroverted performances that
border on histrionic. Logic isnít something Herman Yau or screenwriter
Ting Chau much concern themselves with (how is it that a supporting
character manages to be in South Africa and Hong Kong at the same
time as the protagonist?), ending up with a film thatís often
unintentionally hilarious (who knew Ebola infection caused people to go
into sudden hysterical seizures?). One thing, however, that EBOLA
SYNDROME definitely isnít is boring.
EBOLA SYNDROME (YI BOH LAI BENG DUK)
Director: Herman Yau
Producer: Jim Wong
Screenplay: Ting Chau
Cast: Anthony Wong, Ming Wan Yeung, Mui-Ying Chan, Fui-On Shing, Tsui-Ling
Wong, Meng Lo, Lu Cheung, Edward Corbett, Lorraine Ho, Cheung-Lung Kai,
Lori Shannon, Michael Tam, Bobby Yip, Sin-Yi Yip