TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS
Directed by Wellson Chin
Produced by Tsui Hark
Written by Tsui Hark
Directors of Photograpy Joe Chan Kwong Hung & Sunny Tsang Tat Sze
Music by J.M. Logan
Cast: Ken Chang, Michael Chow, Lam Suet, Chan Kwok Kwan & Anya
2002/90 mins/Color/5.1 DD
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/Cantonese/China/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star DVD
Hong Kong films are well known for their ablility to combine many genres -- drama, comedy, horror, action -- into one movie. TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS is a great example of this trend. However, like many of these movies, VAMPIRE HUNTERS is unable to sustain all of the material that it attempts to tackle. The film is set in 17th Century China, where we meet Master Mao Shan (Ji Chun Hua), who is assisted by his four best warriors Wind, Thunder, Rain, Lightning (Lam Suet, Ken Chang, Michael Chow, Chan Kwok Kwan) (whose names will change later in the film, making things even more confusing). They have been tracking a vampire, and after a valiant battle, the four warriors are separated from their Master. They soon find themselves at the Jiang house, and sensing that the vampire is nearby, go undercover (as servants at a wedding) to search for the undead ghoul. The warriors find more than they bargained for, as the clearly mad Master Jiang (Yu Rong Guang) has dozens of wax-covered corpses inhabiting his house. When the vampire and a Zombie Wrangler (Chan Koon Tai) arrive, all hells breaks loose, and it's up to these brave warriors to protect the innocent and stop the evil forces.
Let's get one thing straight, the action scenes in TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS are awesome and very well done. Hark didn't direct the film, Hong Kong vet Wellson Chin was calling the shots, but the action scenes retain that trademark Hark feel, with bodies flying everywhere. These scenes don't really bring anything new to the genre, but the quality speaks for itself. The combination of traditional wirework with CGI has given us seamless fight scenes, which still offer the lightning quick editing that these films are known for. Also, these scenes are very violent and there are some nice bloody shots involving the vampire. The vampire has a great look (and unlike Western vampires, isn't goth, thank God) and displays many interesting powers, such as the ablility to burrow into the ground. Unfortunately, the remainder of the film isn't very good. The story is very convoluted and far too many characters are thrown into the mix. Plots involving zombies, princesses, lost gold, and revenge, come and go at random, and the film never gels. Comic relief comes at the wrong time and the dramatic scenes ring hollow. Also, as with many films from the East, a knowledge of Eastern customs and religions is required to understand parts of the movie. Still, if you're a fan of the old-school "flying fight scenes" movies from Hong Kong, TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS may interest you as it shows how technology can improve an old idea.
TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS arrives on DVD from Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. Just as Hong Kong film as famous for combining genres, they are also notorious for looking awful on DVD, but VAMPIRE HUNTERS is an exception. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only a minimal amount of grain, and very few defects from the source print. The colors look very good, and there are only trace amount of artifacting. The audio is fine as well, as both the Cantonese and English tracks are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. These tracks offer clear and intelligible dialogue and are free from hissing or distortion. Surround sound effects are abundant here, and add a great deal of atmosphere to the already impressive fight scenes. The dynamic range is a bit tricky at times, but otherwise the sound is great. The only extras on the DVD are trailers for other Columbia/Tri-Star titles. The cover-art, which features a vampire skull and a sword-wielding warrior, is striking, but it is also a tad too dark.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©