The 2017 New York Asian Film Festival is underway, and we at ComicsVerse will be there to share all our favorites from the fest.

FABRICATED CITY (5 out of 5 Stars)

FABRICATED CITY

When gamer “Captain” Kwon Yu (Ji Chang-wook) is framed for rape and murder, he vows to escape and expose the real murderer. Along with his former gaming buddies, he forms a group: the self-named “Resurrection.” These unlikely heroes foil an evil scheme worthy of any classic Bond villain. Directed by WELCOME TO DONGMAKGOL’s Park Kwang-hyun, this DIE HARD-esque action flick is a modern classic. If you want over the top action, insane stunts, and an evil genius who loves to monologue, then this film’s for you!

FABRICATED CITY doesn’t fall into the trap many movies do nowadays. It doesn’t try to be “dark” or “edgy” or “real.” Shedding this baggage unshackles the movie and allows it to soar. It doesn’t pretend to stick to reality — FABRICATED CITY creates its own reality. It’s a South Korea where old coupes can handle like any car in F & F: TOKYO DRIFT. A land where an unemployed gamer can pick up a real-life gun and have perfect aim. This is a world in which evil not only exists but hatches and implements grandiose evil schemes.

This is even a world where one of the main protagonists is not only female, but not a love interest. Yee-wool (Shim Eun-kyung) is a badass hacker who is the only person to believe “Cap” when he protests his innocence during his trial. Ultimately it is she, not Kwon Yu, who masterminds the downfall of the evil villain.

READ: CV reviews NYAFF ’17 films EXTRAORDINARY MISSION and THE VILLAINESS

FABRICATED CITY succeeds as an over the top shoot ‘em up action flick with plenty of improbable car chases, near misses, and high stakes drama. With memorable one liners, explosions, and all around fun, director Park Kwang-hyun does a masterful job. He skillfully matches the best action films Hollywood can produce. Taking down an evil villain like a boss never felt so good as in this flick.

ZOMBIOLOGY: ENJOY YOURSELF TONIGHT (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

ZOMBIOLOGY

Zombies are nothing new to pop culture. Corny action flicks with comedic moments aren’t either. Nevertheless, ZOMBIOLOGY: ENJOY YOURSELF TONIGHT takes these two concepts and brings something new to the silver screen. I’ve never seen a zombie apocalypse caused by a giant chicken, that’s for certain.While the plot can sometimes be confusing and the pacing can be slow, this post-apocalyptic gorefest is good fun. It isn’t the best zombie film ever, it won’t be winning any awards. However, if you’re looking for something to take your mind off the real world, then this film will satisfy.

When ZOMBIOLOGY finds its groove, not even John Travolta in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER busts better moves. The film shines brightest at the very beginning and the very end. These are sequences animated in the style of Japanese anime. A group of Hong Kongers battle against zombies lead by a giant chicken monster. It is fast, violent, and fun. Outside these highlights are the action sequences at the climax of the film. Best friends Lung (Michael Ning) and Chi-Yeung (Louis Cheung) fight zombies alongside cousin Chan-Yat (Cherry Ngan) and martial arts celebrity turned spurned bride Yee-Sue (Venus Wong). Utilizing homemade weapons such as a flying guillotine, these unlikely heroes ultimately face down the forces of evil that have taken over Hong Kong.

READ: Another review of NYAFF ’17 films. This time it’s WET WOMAN IN THE WIND and DAWN OF THE FELINES

ZOMBIOLOGY: ENJOY YOURSELF TONIGHT tries to squeeze in comedy and a plot where none is really wanted or needed. Themes such as unrequited love, depression, and overcoming fear are present, but are never really executed well. The majority of the film tries to explain, among other things, the guilty feelings of Lung’s father (Alex Man) towards Lung’s step-mom, Shan (Carrie Ng). Lung’s relationship with his father and their ultimate reconciliation right before the ex-con sacrifices himself make little sense and are awkward. Then there’s the love triangle between Shan, Lung’s father, and a stalker food delivery guy. It’s just weird and I didn’t understand it.

Then there’s the comedy. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but a lot of it wasn’t very funny for me. The whole thing with real estate agents was funny, but in a purely surrealist way. Maybe Hong Kong’s real estate market is really cutthroat? A lot of it seemed out of place and almost forced. Throughout all these “laugh” moments and the above mentioned drama, the only thing I could think was,“When are they gonna kill some more zombies?”

ZOMBIOLOGY could have been a really great film. It has all the elements: zombies, at times relatable characters, a hilariously weird giant chicken. However, all its effort ultimately falls flat. While many parts are truly epic, the film as a whole just feels like lost potential.

Check out the rest of ComicsVerse’s coverage of the 2017 New York Asian Film Festival!
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