“A wrong movie makes you suffer for 90 minutes,” declares the opening title card, without caution. “A wrong government makes you suffer for four years.” That sets the tone for ‘Get the Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan)‘, from debut director Wang I-Fan, a maddeningly coarse, high-plugged operatic chamber piece of a film. It is a zombie movie with a deadpan political edge, where endless surface-level theatrics belies the infectious corruption at its core. The action that unfolds in the Legislative Yuan, akin to parliamentary court, will certainly work a lot more if one has some context of Taiwanese politics.
Taiwanese politics seems to mirror the better part of US politics itself, just add a lot more drama instead. There is punching and kicking and all sorts of maniacal drama just short of a WWE universe. Several politicians have reportedly chewed the drafts in session so that it could not be passed and many a violent brawl has erupted within debates – one aspect that is directly linked to the film. Here, though, the narrator is the sassy Hsiung (Megan Lai), who’s fighting for the sole reason of shutting down the foreign chemical plant filtering toxic waste into the water around her working-class hometown.
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This is not just any other toxic waste, but the kind that can potentially cause an infectious plague known as “idiot rabies” (named because it can make people rabid, and also turn them into idiots). Then there is Wang (Bruce Ho), a security guard-turned-congressman, who is kept as a support act by Hsuing and can take her position if she is made to resign. But even before this promise is ought to be fought for, members of each opposing party are eating one another, and the pair must find a way to survive the day.“I fought so hard to get into parliament,” she snarls. “And now I have to fight so hard to get out alive.”
What is so essentially shocking about ‘Get the Hell Out‘ is where exactly it fails. It is all surface-level, the blood, and the action, the energy it surmounts just on the sheer speed of visual shocks. The expectation of a severe political satire, laced with a stringent criticism is to be left at the door- Wang is more interested in the loud, hyperactive karaoke sing-alongs, and often comic outlook of the actions- where even characters are introduced in title cards for a deadpan comic effect. The camera races with a lot of high octane sequences, that are sometimes a tad too much to grapple. But mostly, the zombies are not scary or frightening, they are outrageous. Get the Hell Out plays the zombie apocalypse far more for laughs than scares, as Wang is aware how unserious and hard it is to wrestle with the reality, whose horrors are far more pervasive than his movie’s.
The choreographed violence might numb some, but Wang doesn’t lose grip of the narrative entirely. Even if the blood splurges more and more, with video game-style battles- what redeems it considerably is the ending. The shock delivered here is more existential than surface-level, and the less said the better, although current times have acclimatized us to no such potential disclaimers. That Get the Hell Out eventually manages to strike that note of socio-political reference is what gives it that edge.
Get the Hell Out Trailer
‘GET THE HELL OUT’ WAS SCREENED AT THE 2020 TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
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DIRECTOR: I-Fan Wang
CAST: Bruce Ho, Megan Lai
RUNTIME: 96 MIN
LINKS: TIFF, IMDB