The Gene Generation (2007)R

CapeCapeHalf a balding headTentHalf a tent

We have here the first case, as far as I know, of a category that I suppose should have been expected after the financial success of a range of big-name comic book movies: the fake comic book movie.

It claims to be based on a comic book called The DNA Hacker Chronicles. Or, in the film credits, The DNA Hackers Chronicles. They assert it’s an adaptation. But some people who didn’t take this claim at face value have done some detective work that apparently shows that the comic book was written solely to promote the movie. So claiming to have a comic book as a basis is apparently now considered a source of cred.

The movie also claims to be a specimen of a whole new genre: “bio-punk”. Uh... yeah.

What we’ve actually got here is just a cheap cheesy little sky-fie movie with a routine Chase-the-McGuffin plot, and tons of low budget CGI in place of real special effects. Plus an ass-kicking martial artist super assassin protagonist played by Bai Ling, who wears ridiculous sexxed-up costumes that would only make sense in a comic book. And a preposterous mixture of anachronisms trying to pass as futuristic ghetto-land. Up to and including computer terminals made out of mechanical typewriters, straight out of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Only encrusted with dried slime. Also, Bai Ling’s English kind of blows.

Given this sorry-ass pedigree, it’s fairly surprising how decent the resulting movie is. The characters aren’t just plot dummies, there’s a lot of difficult emotion, the good guys don’t always win, and you actually manage to care about the badass unstoppable one-woman-army character. The story actually manages to function as tragedy, which is something that formula science fiction, as a rule, does very poorly (vide Norman Spinrad).

Speaking of slime, they’re going for a Cronenbergian level of gore and ick here. Apparently that’s what makes it “bio-punk”. People sprout tentacles and shit, and sustain lots of messy injuries.

The standout in the cast is probably Parry Shen as our protagonist’s dumbshit younger brother, who creates constant trouble and complications for everyone else. A good word can also be put in for the score, by Scott Glasgow.