Sunday, November 1, 2020

ZOMBIE FOR SALE (2019) Blu-ray Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 16
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $3,329.71

Zombie for Sale (2019) d. Min-jae Lee (South Korea) (112 min) (1st viewing)

The Park family, comprised of a father (Jong-ryol Choi), two brothers Joon-Gul (Jae-yeong Jeong) and Min-Gul (Nam-gil Kim), their sister Hae-gul (Soo-kyung Lee), and Joon-Gul’s pregnant bride Nam-Joo (Ji-won Uhm), eke out a living at their run-down gas/service station, bilking the occasional passerby with flat tire-inducing debris on the highway and a tow truck waiting in the wings. Their ramshackle lives change forever when Jjong-Bi (Ga-ram Jung), one of the brain-dead test subjects from Korea’s most prominent drug company, escapes from the lab and shambles into a literal collision course with the family. While Jjong-Bi looks and walks like a traditional Romero zombie, he prefers to munch on heads of cabbage rather than brains, and when he accidentally does bite the aging patriarch, his rejuvenated victim actually feels 20 years younger!

Such is the original spin given on the undead presented by first-time Korean writer/director Lee, tapping into the same socio-political satire as Bong Joon Ho’s award-winning cousin Parasite. The Park family are very closely related to the Kims, in that they are supremely dysfunctional and infinitely resourceful when finding alternate means to financial success.

Instead of infiltrating a wealthy family, Lee’s horror/comedy revolves around a get-rich-quick scheme based around a “zombie as health restorative,” with the Parks’ elderly neighbors lining up to have Jjong-Bi take a chomp out of their arms (which the herbivorous creature is lured into doing through liberal ketchup applications). Soon, the entire community is thriving and happily throwing cash at our overjoyed heroes, even as the police’s suspicions are aroused.

For better or worse, this highly innovative venture inevitably blinks, hedging its bets by turning into a traditional bloodthirsty horde feature halfway through. Granted, this is not necessarily the worst thing, as Lee mires plenty of laughs and thrills watching the Parks make their stand at their, um, stand, and there are some lovely visual flourishes (fireworks, Nam-Joo’s fearless dash to regain the family treasure). Yes, it would have been nice to continue exploring the first act’s unique waters a little longer, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with watching well-executed (if familiar) scenes of madness and mayhem. (Whether less adventurous viewers will stick around long enough to see them is another question.)

Also, I recommend looking past the unfortunate title choice. A) It’s not really accurate, as Jjong-Bi is never really on the block, and b) it misrepresents an intelligent, entertaining, high-energy, high-concept flick with more on its mind than just dead meat.


High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original compressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
Newly-translated English subtitles
Audio commentary with filmmakers and critics Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin
QA with director Lee Min-jae from a 2019 screening at Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago, moderated by film critic and author Darcy Paquet
“Eat Together, Kill Together: The Family-in-Peril Comedy, a brand-new video essay by Pierce Conran exploring Korea's unique social satires
Making-of Featurette
Behind-the-Scenes footage
Original Trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Mike Lee-Graham
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collectors’ booklet featuring new writing by Josh Hurtado

Zombie for Sale is available now on Blu-ray from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:

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