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Vampire vs. Vampire
Year: 1989 "This wasn't the deal when I married her!"
Sandra Ng takes a bite out of Lam Ching-Ying
Director: Lam Ching-Ying
Action: Stephen Tung Wai
Cast: Lam Ching-Ying, Chin Siu-Ho, Lui Fong, Billy Lau Nam-Kwong, Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Maria Cordero, Regina Kent
The Skinny: The comedy is strained and even lame, but the action and Taoist shenanigans make this eighties horror comedy an amusing diversion.
Review
by Kozo:
     Lam Ching-Ying stars in Vampire vs. Vampire, yet another of his Taoist vampire flicks, except this time there's a twist: he directs it, too. This 1989 spooky laugher is mild on the scary stuff, and the laughs are remarkably few and far between. Still, there's enough here to make this an entertaining eighties Hong Kong diversion.
     Lam is the resident Taoist priest, who apparently is used to running all over town and bagging ghosts, vampires and assorted other creatures. He hangs with his two disciples (Chin Siu-Ho and Lui Fong) and their pet(?) child vampire, who's one of those silly hopping varieties. The child vampire was probably supposed to induce titters due to his cuteness, but rioting may be a more likely audience response. The kid vampire and Lam's students spend the first twenty minutes of the film engaging in all sorts of unnecessary mischief, which is more mind-numbing than funny or clever.
     Then a semi-plot arrives. A contingent of nuns (led by songstress Maria Cordero) arrives in town to take over the local church, which has been vacant since the deaths of the previous two priests. Simultaneously, a freaky corpse is discovered by local police chief Billy Lau, who gets all excited about the jewel encrusted cross lodged neatly in the corpse's chest. He and fiancee/cousin Sandra Ng want to claim the jewel for themselves, which leads to a corpse switch and the introduction of the film's true villain: a western vampire who doesn't hop, is amazingly strong, and won't be stopped by nifty Taoist tricks.
     Concept-wise, Vampire vs. Vampire seems intruiging, but the film is grounded in the typical eighties Hong Kong Cinema routine. To wit: there's bathroom humor, grossly exaggerated characters, detours for questionably entertaining comedy, and unnecessary sexual jokes. Lam Ching-Ying doesn't waste his opportunity behind the camera to match pal Sammo Hung in the "questionable cinema" department. This film was likely a product of the eighties cinema boom, which means quick production time, miniscule budget (the special effects are particularly laughable), and a script that was probably invented three minutes prior to someone yelling "Action!"
     However, there's also action. Lam Ching-Ying and action director Stephen Tung liven things up with some nifty wire-assisted kung-fu and more than enough Taoist silliness to entertain the masses. Even though Lam's Taoist antics probably make no sense to the majority of the Western hemisphere, there's no denying that there's something inherently entertaining in all of it. And when the evil Western vampire shows up for the final thirty minutes, there's little time to reflect anyway. Things blow up, people act hysterical, and many a painful-looking stunt is offered up on the sacrificial altar of quick, cheap entertainment. Vampire vs. Vampire doesn't really measure up to other eighties vampire efforts (particularly the classic Mr. Vampire), as it's too scattershot and incoherent to compare. Still, the film still provides some measure of agreeable - and disposable - entertainment. (Kozo 2002)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mega Star/Media AsiaVideo Distribution
Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

image courtesy of Mega Star Video Distribution, Ltd.

   

 

 
 
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