Within the first 90 seconds of I-Fan Wang’s Get the Hell Out, the President of Taiwan has lunged at the neck of a Parliament member’s throat and doused the legislators on the floor in arterial spray. While it is a fantastic means of getting the audience’s attention, the in film press gallery standing above the carnage keeps shooting as if nothing unusual is going on. A sharply dressed young woman looks throughly perturbed, and after an exasperated voiceover provides the film its title, there are a series of flashbacks to fill us in on how exactly she got into this mess.
The woman is Ying-Ying Hsiung (Megan Lai), and six months ago she was also a member of Parliament. A measure to build a massive new power plant was being considered, despite it possibly being the source of a dangerous rabies-like virus. Ying Ying is one of the few legislators concerned about the safety of the project, as well as her coastal hometown, which would have to be destroyed to make way for the new construction.
A corrupt, gang affiliated political rival Kao-Chung Li (Chung-Huang Wang) sets Ying Ying up so that he can receive a kickback from the new power plant. A physical altercation with the paparazzi and an unwitting security guard, forces Ying Ying to resign in a sea of online outrage and media fury at her inability to control her temper.
Conversely, You-Wei Wang (Bruce Ho) is no longer just a hapless security guard with a disorder that causes constant nosebleeds, he’s a minor celebrity. Seeing an opportunity to perhaps still stop the plant, Ying Ying convinces You-Wei to run for her Parliament seat, and be her puppet on the inside. As he has had a crush on Ying Ying since childhood, You-Wei agrees, but soon finds himself caught in the middle between Ying Ying and Kao-Chung’s opposing goals.
Not that any of that matters when an infected President turns into a rabies fueled “idiot” and infects most of Parliament during an emergency cabinet meeting. The government building is locked down to prevent the spread of the pandemic, and the uninfected survivors must fight their way out amongst the ever-increasing pile of rabid zombies.
Get The Hell Out has an immediately engaging visual style, incorporating text graphics, animations, and fourth wall breaks in a hyper kinetic and colorful pastiche. The movie cleverly draws aesthetic elements from anime and video games as much as it does cinema. Bright, busy, and edited in a way that recalls either a music video or a professional wrestling pay per view (with famous finishing move the Hurricanrana a minor plot point), it’s a film that plays like a live action comic book. Excessively catchy Mandarin language pop rock blares on the soundtrack, and each character is given a colorful nickname upon introduction. Staunchly principled Ying Ying is christened “Spicy MP” and sweetly clueless You-Wei is “Mr. Nose Bleeding”.
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The constant barrage of graphics allows for a lot of easy visual comedy, including a very funny recurring joke involving a scared substitute military serviceman and a set of karaoke-style subtitles to provide the lyrics of the fight song he keeps singing to himself to summon the courage for the duration. A key late in the film fight has a health meter like a console game boss battle. This does wear slightly thin in the final third of the film, but it is to director I-Fan Wang’s credit that it is a successful gambit for the majority of the runtime.
Zombie horror comedies and the undead as political allegory are extremely well trodden territory, but Get The Hell Out separates itself from a crowded field by actually caring about its characters. The film is a tight 95-minutes, and there is a rather large ensemble cast to introduce, but the film does an effective job both providing distinct personalities and believable character relationships. The visuals are overtly cartoonish, but the people caught in this bizarre world don’t feel flat. While the casting and acting are across the board very solid, Francesca Kao and Chung-Hua Tou steal the show with their utterly charming and hilarious chemistry as a legendarily mean human resources employee and Ying Ying’s father, respectively. Their caustic repartee is a joy, and it’s obvious the characters have a long friendship and a lot of caring (and a disastrously brief sexual relationship) underneath their bitter exteriors.
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Get The Hell Out isn’t breaking a ton of new ground, and it is visually and allegorically as subtle as a sledgehammer. The satire is so far over the top that it’s floating in the stratosphere somewhere. That said, when the actual Taiwanese Parliament regularly breaks into physical altercations and chair tossing water balloon fights while in session, perhaps caricature was the only way one could be purposefully more ridiculous that the political theater of the real thing.
While the film’s devotion to exceeding at excess isn’t one hundred percent successful, the fact that Get The Hell Out has such a huge bleeding heart underneath the splatter, punchlines and political allegory feels refreshing even in the film’s weaker moments. The three person screenwriting team (director I-Fan Wang, Wang-Ju Yang and Shih-Keng Chien), clearly cares a lot for the characters they have created, and the decline of a nuanced or remotely orderly political process in their country.
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As the opening caveat text card warns at the very start of the film, “A wrong movie makes you suffer for 90 minutes. A wrong government makes you suffer for four years”
This critic certainly isn’t qualified to comment on Taiwan’s government, but can assure you that 90 minutes spent watching this film aren’t at all a punishment. If you can adjust to its particular brand of visual overload, you’ll find a zombie comedy that succeeds at both gore and a good giggle, which may very well be love at first bite for fans of this particular subgenre, or horror comedies in general.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10