“Rotten Shaolin Zombies”: a mix of kung fu and the living dead. It sounds like the perfect recipe, doesn’t it? Well, just like communism, it’s a theory that doesn’t really work when you put it to practice. Martial artists should be beyond a white belt before attempting to make a film that showcases their talents; otherwise the viewer will seek other aspects of the film as entertainment. Like special effects. Or acting. This movie doesn’t really have either of those. What we, the viewers, are left with is an entertaining premise with some sight gags, a few clever ideas, but no real filmmaking.
“Rotten Shaolin Zombies” starts out with the relationship between two brothers. They are both martial artists (albeit not good ones) and they enjoy life with that Asian cinema kind of feeling that you only get from kung fu flicks. A balanced, happy life is disrupted one night at a Japanese restaurant. Some bad sushi, a “dirty lung fish” that is still breathing, jumps up off of a plate (with some suspicious strings dangling from its fins) and mauls one of the brothers. In the tradition of all zombie films, the bitten brother now turns into a zombie. His insides pour out of his mouth like goo, and he goes on a killing rampage. His brother is faced with a terrible choice: kill his brother or let the zombie rampage continue on. In a final confrontation between good and evil, brother against brother, we see what the filmmakers, and the brothers, are really made of.
For a short film, only 23 minutes, “Rotten Shaolin Zombies” doesn’t waste a minute. It is jam-packed with ‘action’, ‘gore’, and bad acting. I put the action and gore in quotation marks because they aren’t really that impressive. Though it’s easy to see the budget was quite low on this film, almost no time seems to have been given to acting or script. The film relies on jokes, groin-kicking, and some food coloring to give the illusion of a good horror film.
The mix of a kung fu action flick and a traditional zombie gore fest is a great idea. This film has a funny premise, and integrates the two themes very well. It happens not to be a very good film. Despite the funny concept for the script, the kung fu brother-against-brother cliché and the bitten-by-the-Sumatran-Rat-Monkey zombie cliché, the jokes and the acting had to be fantastic in order for the filmmakers to pull this off. They didn’t quite succeed, but they probably had a lot of fun making this film.

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