TIFF20: Get The Hell Out

Technically, this film does have a premise and a plot. I mean, it totally and legitimately does. But as a Taiwanese comedy-horror that mixes zombies, martial arts, and politics, it probably didn’t have to go to the trouble. As part of TIFF’s legendary Midnight Madness program, it’s not just a case of fitting in, but establishing a new bar for the kind of oddities the best of genre cinema can offer.

Hsiung Ying-ying (Megan Lai) is so mad the government wants to tear down her father’s house to build a new chemical plant, she gets herself elected to parliament to actually do something about it. But opponent MP Li Kuo-chung (Chung-wang Wang) is a veteran politician and isn’t about to just back down and let her have it. In fact, he instigates a brawl that riles Ying-ying into busting out some badass kung-fu moves, including her signature huracanrana, and then calls for her resignation, having successfully baited her. Bumbling security guard Wang You-wei (Bruce Hung) is the one who broke up the fight, and his corresponding rise in popularity has both camps thinking they can use his seat for their own purposes. But You-wei only has eyes for Ying-ying, so on the appointed day and time of the power plant vote, he shows up to Taiwan’s parliamentary chambers ready for a fight, but not the kind that actually goes down.

Turns out, the Prime Minister himself has contracted a virus and the minute he starts rabidly biting into people’s flesh, hell breaks loose and the building goes on lockdown. A measure normally used to protect the Prime Minister from outside threats, this time it’s trapped his colleagues in chambers with him, and he’s turning fellow politicians into crazed zombies faster than Donald Trump can spout lies to the press. In fact, he’s going through victims quicker than if he was a wood chipper, while his bored security detail looks on, seemingly unperturbed – they’re there to protect him, not protect others from him. Don’t question it, it’s the kind of magical “logic” politicians rely on every day.

As Ying-ying watches from the safety of the press pit, her rival, her protege/love interest, and her father (Tsung-Hua To) all fight for their lives. The blood spatter is voluminous, exuberant. Luckily Taiwanese politicians are exceptionally well-dressed, battle lines drawn vividly between fuchsia and tangerine. Director I.-Fan Wang’s larger than life, cartoonish violence reminds me a little of Edgar Wright circa Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It’s a monstrous spectacle, but you can’t deny its vigor. I dare you to pass up the opportunity to see someone wield the person they’re giving the Heimlich to as a weapon. Where else on earth are you going to see that?

The comedy is broad, the violence gleeful and gruesome, and the satire unsubtle. Even as they wield axes and nail clippers, anything that might help them get the hell out, they continue to wheel and deal, consummate politicians, the vote never quite forgotten. If their political criticism is to be believed, cowriters Wang and Wan-Ju Yang don’t have a lot of respect for Taiwan’s actual legislative fights. They do, however have a lot of fun lampooning them. It may not be pretty, but Get The Hell Out is loud and exhilarating, and in a guilty pleasure kind of way, it’s actually pretty fun.

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