HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Boys from County Hell
All Hands On Deck
Teddy
Beasts Clawing at Straws
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Mr. Vampire Hopping Mad Chinese Bloodsuckers
Year: 1985
Director: Ricky Lau
Stars: Lam Ching Ying, Chin Siu Ho, Moon Lee, Ricky Hui, Pauline Wong, Billy Lau, Huang Ha, Anthony Chan, Yuen Wah, Ho Pak-Kwong, Ka Lee, Wu Ma, Wong Wan-Si, Tenky Tin Kai-Man, Yuen Biao
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Martial Arts, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: In turn of the century Hong Kong, if you’ve got problems with ghosts or ghouls you go see Taoist Master Kou (Lam Ching Ying). Kou and his bumbling assistants, sex-happy Chou (Chin Siu Ho) and klutzy Man Choi (Ricky Hui) wield a unique arsenal of wacky spells ready to hold off hopping vampires, who look like Christopher Lee trying to play Dracula, Fu Manchu and The Mummy at the same time. When local business tycoon Mr. Yam (Huang Hua) inadvertently defiles his grandfather’s grave, the vampirized ancestor rises to menace Yam and his dainty, westernized daughter Ting Ting (kung fu diva Moon Lee). Pretty soon it’s murder, but clueless Police Captain Wai (Billy Lau) arrests Master Kou, while poor Man Choi swallows vampire blood and Chou receives some unwanted amorous attention from comely ghost girl Jade (Pauline Wong)…

Why do Chinese vampires hop? Because a walking corpse sounds stupid, right? Ask a silly question… Produced and featuring action choreography by Sammo Hung, Mr. Vampire followed his earlier hit film Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980) with a trailblazing combination of supernatural horror, acrobatic action and Three Stooges style slapstick comedy. It’s a formula that eventually reached Hollywood and morphed into the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1996-2003) and Blade (1998), but here proves eye-opening and fresh.

Most intriguing to western eyes are its insights into Chinese folklore. Here we learn how a mixture of chicken’s blood and sticky rice makes a handy potion to ward off evil and holding your breath makes you invisible to the undead. Kou and company wield an amazing arsenal that includes paper spells, wooden swords, and death-ray spewing magic mirrors, while a series of tense, witty set-pieces show off the amazing martial arts skills of Chin Siu Ho and Lam Ching Ying. Lam had been around for years, delivering solid, sometimes outstanding performances in movies like Prodigal Son (1981). The blockbusting success of Mr. Vampire led him to become the genre’s Peter Cushing, reprising his Taoist sifu act in several sequels and zany spin-offs like Crazy Safari (1991), One-Eyebrowed Priest (1987) and his self-directed Vampire vs. Vampire (1991).

With the first Mr. Vampire, a turn of the century setting marks a clash between the old world and the new. Here, the living are literally haunted by angry ancestors. Disreputable, westernized Captain Wai - who has the hots for cousin Ting Ting - disdains traditional beliefs and makes things worse with his clumsy detective methods. Ting herself eventually ditches her lovely pastel frocks for traditional Chinese attire and becomes a humble assistant to Master Kou. Whether or not there’s a message there is uncertain, but it remains a slight disappointment the gifted Moon Lee doesn’t get a chance to show off her formidable kung fu skills.

Director Ricky Lau remained at the helm throughout the Mr. Vampire series, save for the fifth instalment Magic Cop (1990). Having worked as a cinematographer and actor, he keeps tight hold on the disparate elements, ensuring the vampires stay scary rather than lapse into figures of fun. The makeup is suitably eerie, while future superstars Yuen Biao and Yuen Wah do most of the stunt-doubling. Like Lam Ching-Ying, Ricky Lau became rather typecast in this genre, but contributed offbeat movies like Where’s Officer Tuba? (1986) - a bizarre HK variant on Randal & Hopkirk (Deceased), the serial killer comedy-thriller Nocturnal Demon (1991) - legendary for Moon Lee’s kung fu roller-derby routine - and the oddly brutal Romance of the Vampires (1994).

The film musters some sympathy for Pauline Wong’s lonely lady ghost, who has her own catchy theme tune (“The lady ghost looks for a lover. Who would take a bride so shady?”) and a soft-focus supernatural love scene with Chou (“Lucky for me you found out she was a ghost too late!” quips the randy hero to his master), before she morphs into a fright-wigged phantom with a hideous detachable head. It builds to a fantastic, slow-motion free-for-all finale that will leave newcomers to Hong Kong horror slack-jawed with awe.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3230 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: