In a Hong Kong apartment, Kai (Anthony Wong, INFERNAL AFFAIRS) enjoys frantic sex with his boss's wife. The only problem is, the boss returns home and asks his daughter why she's stood outside on the street. When she tells him it's because her mummy and uncle Kai wanted to spend time alone upstairs, he rushes up the stairs with his two right-hand men.

Kai suffers a good hiding for his betrayal, and his boss produces a pair of scissors, threatening to cut his penis off. Kai offers to do it himself. But he turns the tables by massacring everyone in the room. The boss's young daughter watches from a crack in the door. When Kai notices her, he drags her into the room and prepares to set her alight - but flees when a neighbour intervenes.

The action then shifts 10 years forward, where we catch up with Kai, now living in South Africa and working as a chef in an Asian restaurant. He's the type of disgruntled employee who thinks nothing of spitting in abusive customers' meals, or masturbating into raw meat then using it for the next day's main course.

One morning Kai joins his boss out to a remote tribe, where they have arranged to buy some cheap pork. When they arrive (after narrowly escaping being eaten by wild animals), they are alarmed to see the tribe dancing and chanting around a number of ailing natives. They buy their meat and bid a hasty farewell.

But before returning to their jeep, Kai has a falling out with his boss and goes off for a sulk. It's here that he encounters a sick native woman laid dying beside a lake. Never one to miss an opportunity, Kai satisfies his own needs by jumping on the woman and giving her a good seeing-to.

Upon their return to the restaurant, the boss calls in a doctor when Kai is taken ill with a fever. The boss later leaves his wife to tend over a lethargic Kai, as he answers a call from the concerned doctor.

When Kai regains his energy at just about the same time that we learn from the doctor that Kai's a one-in-ten-million kind of guy who has contracted the ebola virus, but can carry it and spread it without suffering the consequences himself, you know the next hour is going to be fun.

Whoever came up with the idea of a serial killer/rapist going on a demented ebola virus-spreading spree is insane. And a genius. It's a premise that is potential grindhouse gold. But all too often an idea that sounds fabulous on paper is seen to be ruined by cack-handed or lacklustre delivery - look at SHADOW: DEAD RIOT which, while fun, never lived up to the incredible promise of kung-fu, women behind bars, zombies and Tony Todd ...

EBOLA SYNDROME, however, pretty much lives up to it's threat.

Wong is superb as the edgy, nervous Kai - all deranged grinning and flapping sweaty hair as he spits out obscenities at anyone and everyone who crosses his path. His performance carries the film, lifting Herman Yau's (UNTOLD STORY) furiously paced yarn from a mess of bad taste and black comedy into an altogether more substantial proposition. The supporting cast do their bit, but this is Wong's hour.

There's a semblance of a plot later in the film as the daughter from the opening scenes returns as an adult holidaying in South Africa, convinced she recognises Kai as her parents' murderer. And when Kai returns to Hong Kong, he calls on his first love - adding an unexpected extra side to his persona at an unusual point in the story. But none of this matters much - EBOLA SYNDROME exists as a showcase for Wong's deliriously spirited overacting, as he steamrollers from one insane set-piece to the next.

EBOLA SYNDROME shows an improvement from Yau as a director too, displaying better pacing than UNTOLD STORY and a more even balance between the very dark humour and sick body horror.

Entertaining, slick, manic and sick without ever being offensive - EBOLA SYNDROME is great fun.

Discotek's disc is by far the best release this film has yet had.

The film is presented in a slightly abridged version (same as the last R3 release) in a pleasing anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. Colours are nice and sharp, and although they seem a little washed out at times, this is not uncommon for Asian movies of this period. Images are sharp and grain is minimal. Other reviews have made mention of ghosting effects during scenes of fast motion - this isn't as problematic as I feared, and was barely noticed.

The Cantonese 2.0 audio track is solid throughout. Optional English subtitles are available - both the original broken-English subtitles that featured on the old R3 release (presented for comedy value - they're funny for all of 5 minutes), and new improved translation which aide the storytelling immensely.

Attractive animated menus give access to some very worthwhile bonus features.

First up is a commentary track from Yau and Wong. This is spoken in Cantonese but comes with optional English subtitles. The pair have great fun chatting amiably about the film, it's cast, Wong's mad performance, the gory effects and much more. It's a fun track to sit through, never boring.

Next there's a decent 15 minute interview with Yau, spoken in English. Wong sits next to Yau throughout, looking menacingly cool in a pair of shades the whole time. This doesn't add much to the commentary, but is great to have anyway.

There's a great collection of deleted scenes/extended takes, all presented in anamorphic 1.85:1. Rather than being pointless dialogue scenes that we usually get when being treated with deleted scenes, these are all pretty fun - sex and violence galore - albeit very brief (Just over two-and-a-half minutes in total length).

These are the scenes that were pre-cut from the film when it was released on Asian shores, and although it would have been better if Discotek had reinstated them into the film to give it "uncut" status (they certainly look good enough to do so), at least they're here in some form.

A stills gallery of production materials shows more effort from Discotek, and is much appreciated.


Good trashy fun given an above average release from Discotek Media.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Discotek Media
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review