Original Title: Z-108 棄城
Languages: Mandarin, English, Japanese
Genres: Horror, Thriller, Action
Director: Joe Chien
In the city of Taipei, an accident happens at a biochemical plant, sending toxins out into the environment. The toxins contain a virus, which prompt the police to start evacuating the city. While the evacuation is happening, the police raid the headquarters of the mafia, and a gunfight ensues.
However, the police and gangsters are surprised when hordes of zombies appear from nowhere, eating everyone that happens to be unluckily in their path. This forces the gangsters and police to form an uneasy alliance, in which they have to work together to figure out what’s going on and find a way to escape the city.
There are more players in this game of survival. The story also follows a woman who is trying to find her missing daughter, all the while trying to escape the clutches of a kidnapper and rapist who is using the zombie outbreak to his advantage. We also see the story of two foreigners working as drug runners in Taipei, who happen to be involved with the city’s mafia. We are also introduced to a Japanese television news reporter, a mother and her son, a woman and her Japanese boyfriend, and many more, all who share a similar goal – to escape the city with their lives intact.
We’ve seen this premise more than once in zombie flicks – an outbreak happens and turns a city’s residents into flesh-eaters, causing survivors to run for their lives. The premise, one of the most widely used in the zombie genre, is so done to death that the one way to set the film apart from the rest is the way the story is told. With that in mind, Zombie 108 definitely stands on its own…that is, if you’re looking for something trashy to indulge in.
The film splits off into several narratives, through the points of views of more characters than the fingers on one’s hands, making it tough to really discern what is going on at times. On one side, we have a typical zombie survival story, with the police force working together with the gangsters, temporarily setting their differences aside in order to survive the zombie outbreak. On the other side, we a disturbing thriller, as a mother who, having just escaped a horde of zombies, is “saved” by a kidnapper, who ties her up and rapes her and other captive women in his basement.
Within the umbrellas of those two radically different stories, we have a ton of characters, of which the film tries to introduce back stories or build up as a major player in the story. That is, until they die or are written off and thrown away like scrap pieces of paper.
First off (deep breath), we have the aforementioned woman, her daughter, and the kidnapper. There is also the SWAT commander, his boss, and his set of underlings — a few of which get their own screen time to build favor with the audience or add tension to the story. There is even a pair of officers who used to date, with the guy asking the girl why she didn’t return his calls the other night. It builds into what seems to be a romantic sub-plot, only to have zombies come out of nowhere and eat the guy for lunch. It makes the viewer go “wait…was I supposed to care?”
Then we have the mafia boss, the girls who he has orgies with, and his wife. The boss and his wife’s relationship is particularly strange, as we are forced to buy him getting emotional and teary-eyed when she eventually zombifies. “Wait, didn’t you just have like five women right in front of her?”
There are also the boss’s underlings, but what really takes the cake are two drug running foreigners, who get into trouble with the mafia. Admittedly, they were entertaining to watch, especially the African-American, who dodges and zips by zombies with various acrobatics and parkour. It’s almost like watching Jackie Chan in action, but without the martial arts. We have a lot more characters in our motley crew, but all aren’t really worth mentioning because they seem to be just placed randomly in the story. Well, maybe it’s worth mentioning the Japanese man, who in the very last five minutes of his screen time he is given a plot twist that rivals the smelliness of an M. Night Shyamalan film’s.
The point we’re trying to make by describing all the zombie fodder is that the story splits up the narrative among so many points of views that we don’t know who to invest our emotions into. It’s nearly impossible to remember anyone’s names. It gets to the point where we will just label the characters by their job or type, like SWAT commander, mafia boss, hot mom, etc. We get less detached to the characters and more attached to, well, the hilarious ways characters seem to crumble under the weight of zombies and the laughably bad special effects, all of which combine together in one scene featuring a creature which seems to be the recycle shop version of video game series Resident Evil‘s Tyrant.
Once getting passed the over-saturation of characters, you will have to get used to the seizure-inducing camera shots. Not only do nearly all the scenes look like they were shot by a cameraman high on caffeine, but most of the footage is spliced together like a video on Vine. Meaning, most scenes, particularly the ones featuring zombies or any kind of intense “emotional” (term used loosely) display aren’t seamless, but rather skip around different camera angles and can jump ahead in time, happening quite frequently even within a short ten second scene. Prepare for seizures.
Not really surprisingly, many of the actors featured in Zombie 108 have no films other than this one in their IMDB filmography. Whether that’s an indicator of the “talent” in this cast or IMDB’s not being up to date with Taiwanese cinema is, at the moment, unknown. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if these actors end up staying in the B-movie business for years to come.
With all the laughable special effects, acting, and play fighting that’s less believable than what you see in professional wrestling, be ready for a trashy film amongst trashy films in the form of Zombie 108.
Watch this film…
…if you are feel like watching something filthy and dirty.