Directed by Ricky Lau
Written by Chen Chi-Wai & Barry Wong Ping-Yiu
Produced by Leonard Ho Koon-Cheung
Cast: Chin Siu-Ho, Lam Ching-Ying, Moon Lee & Pauline Wong
1985/93 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.85:1 anamorphic/Cantonese/Hong Kong/PAL Region 2/4
Review of the Hong Kong Legends UK DVD
Hopping vampires a go-go! Produced by Sammo Hung in 1985 the similarity between MR. VAMPIRE and his earlier 1980 film ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND is clearly evident. Both are comedy/horrors aimed at a young Hong Kong audience. Both have been hugely influential with numerous sequels and imitations following in their wake. Foe me, of the two films MR. VAMPIRE is the more entertaining, that's not taking anything away from ENCOUNTERS OF THE SPOOKY KIND which is also a lot of fun, but it lacks the exuberance of this later film.
A Taoist priest Master Kau (Lam Ching-ying) and his two incompetent young apprentices, Man Choi (Ricky Hui) and Chou (Chin Siu-ho) fight to keep the dead from rising. Vampires in Chinese mythology don't conform to Western traditions. They have no supernatural abilities and survive through their sense of touch and smell. They also can't see, communicate or walk so they have to hop from a to b with their arms outstretched. They can be stopped in their tracks by placing rice paper on their foreheads or non-cooked sticky rice on the floor, which burns their feet. There are other ways of defeating them but these are the main two employed by the protagonists in this film.
A wealthy businessman, Mr Yam, asks Master Kau to arrange for the re-burial of his father. Yam has been told that by doing this his financial woes may end and his luck change for the better. When Kau opens the coffin he discovers Yam's father has turned into a vampire. He agrees to take the body to his temple where the curse can be lifted and then the body re-buried. Kau's bumbling apprentice, Chou, finds the grave of a beautiful young woman and leaves burning incense by her grave. By doing so he accidentally awakes her spirit which will not rest until it has made love repeatedly to Chow and drained him of his life-energy. Foolishly Kau leaves the job of securing the coffin containing Yam's father's corpse to his two idiotic apprentices. They botch the job and the vampire escapes. Master Kau is arrested for a murder committed by the vampire and Man Choi is also bitten, whilst Chou has to survive the attentions of the nymphomaniac ghost.
What a film! I've seen MR. VAMPIRE on countless occasions and it never fails to entertain. With high production values (it was shot on location in Taiwan and Hong Kong), breathtaking camerawork, a haunting soundtrack and first-class performances and direction MR. VAMPIRE is a gem of a film.
Hong Kong Legends have done an amazing job restoring this film. The PAL disc is coded Region 2/4. It is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and is anamorphically enhanced. The picture is a revelation. I've seen the film on video and television and it's never looked this good. Firstly there is absolutely no print damage, which for a film that is over eighteen years old is incredible. The black levels are excellent and colours astonishing. There is some grain, but that has been the case with all releases of the film and here it's nowhere near as bad. There are two audio tracks, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese track and a Dolby Digital 5.1 English dubbed version. The Cantonese track has been remixed and makes good use of bass and a score which creeps around the room. The English dub is very cheesy and a bit irritating, my own personal preference is for the Cantonese track.
The DVD is completely uncut and includes a scene where a chicken has its throat slit and a snake gets its gall bladder removed. (Which is kind of ironic when you consider the BBFC insisted on cuts to a scene in the UK release of EASTERN CONDORS, in which Yuen Biao kills and skins a snake). The extras include an audio commentary from Bey Logan which is highly informative as ever, a tribute to Lam Ching-ying (who died in 1997), two trailers for the film and interviews with Chin Siu-ho (which lasts 42 minutes!) and Moon Lee (17 mins 39 secs). Plus two trailers for ZU and SCORPION KING.
MR. VAMPIRE is an excellent example of Hong Kong cinema at its finest and this is the definitive version available on DVD.
This Film Features:
Review by Brendan Maltman. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©