Directed by Dante Lam
Produced by Carl Chang
Written by Chan Hing Kai & Jack Ng
Director of Photograpy Cheung Man Po
Music by Chang Kwong Wing
Cast: Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Ekin Cheng, Anthony Wong & Edison Chen
2003/88 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1 anamorphic/Cantonese/Hong Kong/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainmnet DVD
Hollywood is often accused of aiming for the lowest common denominator and making movies that are far too homogenous. But, I find that Hong Kong films are guilty of a similar crime as they often spread themselves very thin and try too hard to please everyone in the audience. A good example of this practice is the action/horror/romantic-comedy, THE VAMPIRE EFFECT (which is better known throughout the world as THE TWINS EFFECT).
Reeve (Ekin Cheng) is a member of the Anti-Vampire Federation, a group which hunts and kills vampires. Reeve is able to challenge the undead by ingesting vampire blood extract, which gives him "The Vampire Effect", resulting in increased strength and speed. But, he must take an antidote or he will become a vampire. He has just gotten a new partner, Gypsy (Gillian Chung), and begins to train her in anti-vampire combat. Meanwhile, Reeve's brother Helen (Charlene Choi) has fallen for a strange young man named, Kazaf (Edison Chen), who is actually a vampire prince. Kazaf has been sent by his father, along with his servant, Prada (Anthony Wong) to Hong Kong to hide. A rogue Duke (Mickey Hardt) has killed all of Kazaf's brothers, as he needs their "blood essence" in order to gain great power. Reeve must decide what to do about his sister's new romance, as Kazaf realizes that his existence is being threatened.
The newly released Region 1 DVD of THE VAMPIRE EFFECT clocks in at 88-minutes, which I understand is about 20-minutes shorter than the original Hong Kong cut. This fact has upset many pundits of Asian movies. But, I fail to see how a longer cut of this movie would have made it any better, as THE VAMPIRE EFFECT has many great ideas and doesn't know what to do with them. The movie contains many horrific elements, but these become diluted by unnecessary comic and romantic moments.
The film's opening features an incredible fight scene, which is reminiscent of something from the BLADE films. But, the movie never repeats this dazzling feat, as it stumbles from one plot to another and never really finds its footing. (It's never a good sign when a movie doesn't have a main character.) The vampires have a nice look, and despite the fact that some of the story is lifted from BLADE and JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES, the plot concerning the undead is fairly interesting. Yet, the movie insists on inserting not one, but two comedic scenes with Jackie Chan which seemingly have little to do with the story. These scenes literally stop the movie and turn it into something else completely. Not only does this rob the movie of any pacing, it corrupts the tone of the film as well. (When the vampires stop snarling and start dancing, many will reach for the fast-forward button.) The mixed-up nature of this movie destroys what could have been a serviceable action/horror romp. Director Dante Lam is able to construct some nice action scenes, but by the time the finale rolls around, many viewers will no longer care who lives or dies. Forget THE VAMPIRE EFFECT or THE TWINS EFFECT, file this one under THE DISAPPOINTMENT EFFECT.
THE VAMPIRE EFFECT flies onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. As noted above, the cut on this Region 1 disc is significantly shorter than the Hong Kong cut. The transfer on the disc is OK, as the image is clear for the most part, but there is some visible grain in many shots. Also, some shots look blurry. There are noticeable defects from the source print which can be seen in some scenes, such as black dots and minor scratches. The colors are good and never look faded, although the wedding scene (!?) is somewhat washed out. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 Cantonese audio track could have used some further tweaking. The track provides awesome surround sound and subwoofer effects, and the fight scenes had the wall shaking. Unfortunately, the dynamic range is off and the dialogue is barely audible when compared to the rumbling bass. Adjustments to my receiver helped with this, but I found myself constantly adjusting the volume. The yellow English subs are very easy to read. The only extra features on this DVD are trailers for other international films from Columbia.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©