Part of TIFF 2020’s Midnight Madness lineup, I-Fan Wang’s Get the Hell Out is one of the showier horror debuts from a first-time director. The pandemonium is endless, blood gushing in all directions from the enclosed zombie mayhem. The insane proceedings might be in the name of fun, but Wang doesn’t try to hide his rancor for parliament’s total ineptitude. The nonsensical satire is brazen vilification of the Taiwanese legislative process. Moreover, his script seems adamant that someone lacking political experience would make the best government representative. While the reasoning is somewhat flawed, Bruce Hung makes for a compelling if unconventional action star to test that theory.
Prepare to be overwhelmed by hyper-stylized sequences. Intrusive “Breaking News” segments, dramatic facial zoom-ins of rising internal anger, and mid-battle comic book filters are just a handful of numerous inventive touches experienced. It’s almost too much to handle at the onset. Rest assured, plot and purpose take attendance amidst the chaos. The craziness is befitting of the Legislative Yuan since their parliament sessions are infamous for spiraling out of control. Wang turns the commotion up several notches by incorporating the rabies “zombie” virus into the assembly. The subsequent anarchy makes the church brawl in Kingsman: The Secret Service look like a peaceful Sunday mass.
Before the rabid ruckus ensues, Hung’s timid security guard Wang contributes to the shameful firing of Hsiung (Megan Lai). A rising member of parliament, she spearheads the movement to stop the construction of a harmful chemical plant. The company’s toxic waste already destroyed her home, prompting her initial involvement in politics.
When Hsiung is accosted by reporters at the parliament building’s lobby, she uses martial arts to put an end to their aggressive line of questioning. Instead of defending his colleague, Wang steps in to subdue Hsiung and turns into a viral sensation for doing so. Hsiung is promptly terminated from her position, much to the delight of her political nemesis (Chung-wang Wang). Hsiung’s bitter foe is responsible for setting up the press confrontation to instigate her rage.
Both Hsiung and her rival use Wang’s new popularity for personal gain. They convince him to run for Hsiung’s vacant seat, unaware of each other’s involvement. When Wang slides into easy victory, his leanings favor Hsiung’s adversary. Feeling betrayed, Hsiung files a resignation later to the woman at the HR front desk (Francesca Kao) but didn’t complete the proper paperwork. The seemingly innocuous administrative assistant is having a secret affair with Hsiung’s father (Tsung-Hua To). Speaking of her father, he’s prepared to create a scene — potentially destructive — at the news that the President is visiting Legislative Yuan. He’s to hold a press conference for the plant’s opening, though he doesn’t realize he’s the infected Trojan Horse for viral exposure.
Everyone finds themselves trapped together in the mini outbreak when the building triggers self-quarantine measures. It’s unfortunate that Wang pulls a bait-and-switch with protagonists, relegating Hsiung to headpiece advisor while Wang transforms into the classic hero. A unique biological condition makes him a valuable asset in the zombie onslaught. It’s unfortunate, however, that Wang’s rise to prominence suppresses Hsiung’s heroine worth. Her warrior spirit becomes diluted the moment her skills are needed most.
Hsiung’s struggle then becomes all about seeking her father’s approval. It’s a patronizing conclusion to a once-promising arc. Furthermore, it sends a problematic message that despite women doing all the work, it’s safer and less overbearing to have a man be the face of liberal causes. Effective satire achieves worldly enlightenment, but Get the Hell Out settles for an easy resolution that contradicts its early progressive ambitions.