'Ebola Syndrome' is one of those films that's built up quite a reputation around the genre fan circuit, reports of twisted black humour mixed with some brutal violence all topped off with the explosive talents of the now infamous Anthony Wong, made the anticipation of actually viewing 'Ebola Syndrome' something to be hotly desired!
The film opens in flashback mode in Hong Kong where we meet Kai (Anthony Wong) who is busy getting down to some serious hanky panky with his bosses wife. Inevitably cue the boss arriving home whilst the sticky scenario goes from sleazy to bloodily vengeful. Following some intimidation on the hapless Kai when he is told to cut off his on manhood, he turns angrily and attacks the boss and his family killing all but their young daughter who survives due to the timely intervention by a neighbour. The film then cuts to modern day (many years later) South Africa where Kai has relocated to escape the reach of the Hong Kong police who are seeking him for the bloody murders. He's found work at a small Chinese restaurant where although he's poorly paid and bullied by his new bosses he has at least got his freedom from his fate back home.
Now where the heck does the whole Ebola thing come into this I hear you ask? Well just hang in there...whilst pursuing a cheaper source of meat for the restaurant Kai and his boss head off to a nearby tribal settlement to buy some cheap pig carcasses. They find when they get there that the tribe is having a wee virus problem (with corpses being ritually treated) but that doesn't stop them making their purchase. Kai (being the sleazebag that he is) happens across a wandering tribal woman who passes out at his feet and grabs the opportunity he gets down to his horny business having his way with her (that is until her body starts seizing up on him forcing him to wrestle his manhood free from her tightening crotch). What he doesn't realise is that a) he's just screwed a dying victim of Ebola virus and b) he's now a living carrier of the same said plague! Things swiftly escalate from this point and the inevitable Ebola carnage soon ensues whilst Kai goes on a spiteful spree of destruction (with amongst things his own recipe for human flesh burgers) and the body count quickly piles up!
'Ebola Syndrome' is a strange but highly enjoyable experience indeed. The film has the feel of a big company (here the normally clean cut Golden Harvest) dipping it's big money toes in the sleazier side of genre cinema. The film has a lot of the expected traits of an Anthony Wong sleazefest (ala 'Untold Story') with many scenes of blackly amusing hyper violence and Herman Yau's direction is splendid throughout moving things along at a lightning pace.
The disc from Mo Asia (a new sub division of the good folk at Japan Shock) is a splendid experience also. There's been some debate over the various prints available of the film (with the usual print fetishists hot air blowing about it the odd missing frame) but having never viewed the film prior to this I was more than pleased with what I saw. Although the cover packaging states that the films running time is 90 minutes in reality it's actually around 97 or so. The on screen violence levels are very high indeed so I reckon it must be debatable as to how many frames are actually missing but I do know that this version is the longest available print that Mo Asia could get hold of and I don't doubt that this is likely the best version you're ever likely to see!
The widescreen print is great looking - pin sharp, colourful and very detailed indeed with no obvious damage or deterioration noticeable at any point. The audio is a solid stereo soundtrack (in Cantonese) with optional English and Dutch subtitles that are fine (though occasionally suffer from the old white on white syndrome that many Asian DVD releases seem to suffer). As for extras, well it's the usual minimal but welcome additions in the form of a moving still gallery, an all too brief text page on director Yau and a tasty theatrical trailer for the film itself. All round a solid enough package with a gorgeous presentation of the film itself.
The combination of both director Yau and star Wong's talents has come up trumps here in this big budget extravaganza of tasteless exploitation cinema fun. The region free NTSC presentation from Mo Asia will undoubtedly assure great interest from fans of the genre across the globe - seek this sick puppy out now!
Review by Alan Simpson
|Released by MO Asia (Shock DVD Entertainment)|
|DVD format: DVD-5 (NTSC Region 0)|
|Running time - 98m (packaging lists 90m)|
|Ratio - Widescreen 1.85|
|Audio - Cantonese Dolby digital 2.0 (optional Dutch; English subtitles)|
|Theatrical trailer; Stills gallery; Director biography; 4pp-insert booklet|