• Ebola Syndrome (Discotek Media) DVD Review

    Released by: Discotek Media
    Released on: July 31st, 2007.
    Director: Herman Yau
    Cast: Anthony Wong, Miu-Ying Chan, Edward Corbett, Meng Lo, Lori Shannon
    Year: 1996
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    Ebola Syndrome – Movie Review:

    Kai San (Anthony Wong of The Untold Story and Infernal Affairs) is caught having an affair with his boss’ wife and when he’s caught by his employer, he winds up killing the both of them and going on the run. A few years later we find Kai working in a Chinese restaurant somewhere in Africa and while on a routine mission to buy some meat he comes across a very sick village woman. Sweetheart that he is, Kai brutally rapes the helpless woman and soon finds out that payback is a bitch – he’s contracted the deadly Ebola Virus!

    Luckily for Kai and not so luckily for everyone else, Kai is one of those rare people whose genes just don’t subside to the virus, meaning that he can carry it and give it to people but that it won’t kill him like it would ninety-nine percent of the world’s population. When he figures this out, he runs with it and uses his ‘gift’ to rape, kill and steal his way back to his homeland in Hong Kong. Once he’s home, however, Kai finds that it’s not so easy to give up on his devious ways. Soon he draws the attention of the local police who, once they find out about him, make it a priority to bring him in before he infects even more people.

    Completely tasteless and as crass as crass can be, Ebola Syndrome pulls no punches dealing with a reasonably sensitive subject in the most exploitative way possible. Front and center in all of this is Anthony Wong, who had previously worked with director Herman Yau on the notorious and exceptionally well made The Untold Story. In this film, as in quite a few others, Wong seems to revel in his character’s inherent nastiness, completely throwing himself into the role as if it were the part he was born to play. He’s absolutely over the top in every way he should be and it’s this manic intensity that he brings to the screen that makes the movie so much goofy, gory fun. That said, the script certainly affords Wong every opportunity to ham it up and sleazify things quite nicely, allowing Wong plenty of chances to strut his stuff and prove himself the undisputed King of Cat III Cinema! The rest of the cast are fairly unremarkable but it matters very little as this is Wong’s show all the way.

    Yau’s direction is solid from start to finish as the film moves along at a very quick pace. Rarely do more than a few minutes pass before he brings us the next atrocity to ogle. The camera leaves little to the imagination, as the film piles on the gore and the nudity with reckless abandon, leering tastelessly at the results of Wong’s mayhem. Even if the script (which is as ripe with plot holes as it is with nastiness) is a bit goofy, the film throws it all in our face with such nasty glee that it’s hard not to enjoy it and revel in it along with the filmmakers. It’s gross, it’s gory, and it’s great.

    Ebola Syndrome – DVD Review:

    Disctoek has given Ebola Syndrome an all new ‘lovingly remastered’ anamorphic widescreen transfer in the film’s original 1.85.1 aspect ratio. While there’s a bit of grain here and there and some really mild print damage in the form of the occasional speck or blemish, for the most part, for a standard definition transfer from 2007 the picture quality here is solid. Color reproduction is excellent and the black levels stay deep. Detail in both the foreground and the background of the picture is about as good as the format will allow for. The only flaw, really, is that there are some mild saw tooth artifacts present during moments of very fast motion - these don't show up all the time, but they are there indicating there may be a flagging issue. Other than that, the movie really does look pretty good on this disc even if, obviously, a new high definition transfer could offer substantial improvements.

    Ebola Syndrome is presented in a Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track with two different sets of English language subtitles provided – newly translated accurate subtitles exclusive to this release and the ‘original craptacularly funny original subtitles’ that appeared on previous Hong Kong releases of the movie. In terms of audio quality, there’s nothing to complain about here. The film sounds fine and if there are a few scenes that are just a little bit flat, at least you won’t have any problems whatsoever following the film. The score and sound effects all sound nice and the dialogue remains clear throughout. No problems with hiss or distortion to whine about. The newly translated subtitles make a big difference and the old, screwy ones are definitely good for a laugh.

    The main extra feature on this release is a commentary track from director Herman Yau and star Anthony Wong. Conducted in Chinese but subtitled in English, these two have obviously got a good relationship as they joke around a fair bit while talking about shooting the film, some of the effects work and casting the picture. Both participants get roughly the same amount of air time, neither really dominates the track, and it's a quick paced and interesting discussion.

    In addition to the commentary, however, Discotek has unearthed some never before seen deleted scenes! See Wong gets his face pissed on, see him cut out a woman's tongue, beat someone with a rock, gouge out some dude's eyes, beat someone's head into a door, get head from a very pretty lady in a black bra and much, much more. All of these deleted bits pretty nasty, presented here in anamorphic widescreen and running just under two and a half minutes combined.

    The last substantial extra is an interview with Herman Yau who is joined here by Anthony Wong (who leaves his black sunglasses on the entire time). Yau speaks in English about the powerful opening scene, whether or not the film is a parody, how Wong Jing came on board the project, and much more. This video interview, presented in fullframe, runs fifteen and a half minutes in total.

    Rounding out the extra features are the film’s original theatrical trailer (as well as trailers for Chinese Torture Chamber, Sars Wars, and Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs) a decent still gallery of production materials, chapter selection and some keen interactive menus.

    Ebola Syndrome – The Final Word:

    A true classic of the Hong Kong Cat III exploitation era, Discotek Media gives The Ebola Syndrome a really solid release. The film looks better than it ever has on home video up to this point, and the extras are extensive and genuinely interesting. Consider this one an essential purchase!