Rotten Shaolin Zombies (2004) Movie Review

What can you say about Blaine Wasylkiw’s “Rotten Shaolin Zombies” except you either like’em or you don’t. Truth be told, there’s actually only one zombie, and I’m not sure going to a dojo qualifies one for the title “Shaolin”. In any case, the 20-minute short film is shot on digital video (I think) and is about two “brothers” who are, apparently, karate aficionados. They go everywhere together dressed in their karate uniforms (or gi’s, I believe is what you call them) and do “kung fu fighting” while smiling at each other a lot. It’s all a little homoerotic, actually. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The relationship takes a turn for the worst when one of the brothers gets his eyeball eaten by a stray lung fish, leading to one of the short’s funnier gags: a tombstone that reads, “Ate some bad sushi”. But death can’t hold back our Shaolin Kung fu fighter, and soon he returns from a shallow grave to wreak havoc on the living. Well, actually, he pulls a bone (I think it’s supposed to be a penis) out of a redneck-ish guy working in the fields, bites a hobo’s neck in an alley, and then pulls out his sensei’s intestines and lays it on his stomach for some reason. It’s a fun time had by all.

The funniest thing about “Rotten Shaolin Zombies” is that I really can’t figure out if the two karate guys are supposed to be blood brothers, or if they spent so much time engaging in homoerotic activity that they just decided to call each other brother. They certainly don’t look anything alike, and although both Wilson Wong and Wil Yee (the zombie brother and the living brother, respectively) have Asian names, Wong looks Asian, but Yee does not. So you sort it out.

Although it’s no quality film by any stretch of the imagination, it is pretty damn funny. The scene at the sushi restaurant, where you can clearly see a string tied to the fish as it’s being served, made me laugh out loud. Also, the death scene, and the sushi restaurant chef’s reaction to it (“The meal is on the house!”) also made me laugh like a madman. Make no mistake, “Rotten Shaolin Zombies” is 20 minutes of Tomfoolery on no budget, probably no script to speak off, and most likely made on a single weekend while everyone was probably liquored up. Even so, I think it’s almost as funny as the kung fu madness of “Kung Pow”, which I still contend is a hidden gem.

So while there are no actual Shaolin zombies, there is one zombie in a karate get-up. The zombie guy, who happens to like kicking his “brother” in the balls (again with the homoeroticism!) when he was still alive, goes out to a park where he goes one-on-one with his living brother. It’s a fight to the finish, and by the end of it the zombie has lost a limb and his head. The film’s final battle probably goes on for too long, with the jokes running dry until the living brother vomits and the zombie brother scoops it up for a taste. Now that’s something you don’t see in a Bruce Lee film.

But as I said — you either like’em, or you don’t. I think it’s a pretty funny short myself, but what do I know. I’m probably the only critic who raves about the brilliance of “Kung Pow”, so there you go.

Blaine Wasylkiw (director) / Blaine Wasylkiw (screenplay)
CAST: Wilson Wong …. Zombie Brother
Wil Yee …. Brother

Buy Rotten Shaolin Zombies on DVD