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Opening Date
25 Oct 2018
PG13 Violence
85 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Comedy, Horror
Jacen Tan
Alaric Tay, Benjamin Heng, Joeypink Lai, Chen Xiuhuan, Richard Low
Corporal Kayu is a lazy soldier doing guard duty during his mandatory reservist in an isolated army camp. A mysterious virus breaks out and turns his campmates into rabid zombies. Trapped together, Kayu must team up with his arch-rival, the tough Sergeant Lee, to survive. Cut off from the outside world, their military training is put to the test and they must find out what it means to be real soldiers.
By Say Peng  24 Oct 2018
Essentially 'Dawn of the Dead' in an army camp, 'Zombiepura' is a moderately funny and entertaining undead affair.
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‘Zombiepura’ is director Jacen Tan’s 7-year-in-the-making passion project. For many years, he struggled to get if off the ground. It was only until the success of Jack Neo’s ‘Ah Boys to Men’ franchise and zombie thriller ‘Train to Busan’ that Tan’s army zombie comedy was assessed to be commercially viable.

Zombiepura’s premise is simple: A virus breaks out and turns everyone in camp into zombies and our heroes have to survive. In other words, 'Dawn of the Dead' in an army camp.

The lead characters are played by The Noose’s funnyman Alaric and Eating Air’s Benjamin Heng, who are also the film’s co-producers. Alaric plays Corporal Tan Kayu and Heng plays Sergeant Lee Siao On. From the start, they are at loggerheads. Tan and Lee have returned to camp for reservist. For Corporal Tan, whose character is based on the director, he’s your average everyman who just wants to get through reservist with as little effort and fuss as possible. Sergeant Lee, whose father is Regiment Sergeant Major Lee, is the diametrical opposite: strict, straight-laced, and rule-abiding.

The two clash at the Medical Officer’s clinic where Tan is trying to report sick to get medical leave and be excused from training and guard duty. Unbeknownst to them, the clinic contains an infected soldier who turns into a zombie, who turns everyone else into zombies. Tan and Lee are thrust into a classic buddy film scenario, in which the pair squabble and quarrel at every turn, but must eventually set aside their differences and work together. Joining them is newcomer Joey Pink Lai, a former Miss Universe Singapore finalist, who plays Xiao Ling, the daughter of a canteen operator, whom Corporal Tan has a crush on.

As Singapore’s first zombie movie, Zombiepura has high expectations to meet. Can our filmmakers pull off a convincing zombie flick? The unsung heroes that are the makeup artists, stunt team, and extras have managed to pull off the most basic but crucial aspect of the film. The zombies not only look real, they act like legitimate creatures of the dead.  

As for the humans, the Laurel-and-Hardy-esque pair that is Alaric and Heng share a palpable chemistry. Their bickering scenes, where Tan’s signature ability to craft funny and naturalistic Singlish dialogue shines, are the most fun to watch. Meanwhile, newcomer Lai more than holds her own. More than just a pretty face, Lai brings a vivacious and brash energy to Xiao Ling that plays off well against Alaric and Heng.

The action set pieces are where Tan’s inexperience shows. While the action sequences work in general, they are not staged and edited in a way that maximizes their potential for suspense and tension.

As a film, 'Zombiepura' still has some distance ahead before it can join the predecessors that have inspired it. But because of its novelty, 'Zombiepura' is assured to attract audiences and may even be a commercial success.
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