Saturday, June 10, 2006

New Mr Vampire - review

Director: Billy Chan & Leung Chung

Release Date: 1987

Contains Spoilers

Despite the title this is not a sequel, nor really related, to the excellent Mr Vampire (1985) and was more riding of the wave of the previous film.

The film begins with a graverobber, Wang Choi (Chin Siu Ho), a cheeky and likeable rogue, breaking into a grave as he is desperate for money. Having searched the coffin, and found nothing, he is distressed to note that the eyes of the corpse open and it starts “driving” its coffin at Wang Choi. There is an amusing moment in this scene when the coffin becomes stuck so the corpse jumps out and shifts it slightly and then jumps back in again.

Wang Choi runs into town and spots a ghost catcher shop, knocking on the door and waking Master Chin (Fat Chung) and his assistant. There is an altercation with Master Chin’s brother, Priest Wo, who runs a rival shop over the road and the two men argue whilst fighting the corpse. Eventually both hit the corpse with a return to grave prayer scroll.

The argument sums up the film, whereas the film this apes had comedy, action and pathos, with high production values. This film seems cheap and played strictly for slapstick laughs. The DVD is dubbed, with no option for the original dialogue with subtitles, and the dubbing is poor.

The two brothers compete for a commission for transporting a corpse, with Master Chin winning the contract. Priest Wo sets out to ruin the contract and ensures the corpse raises as a vampire (this is a hopping vampire that doesn’t hop – go figure). Meanwhile Wang Choi is back in the graveyard and enters the grave of a beautiful young girl, Hsi-Wan (Pauline Wong). Lightening strikes the grave and in the confusion their lips touch, the kiss and breath reanimating the corpse.

Wang Choi runs through the countryside, chased by the corpse, and bumps into Master Chin. Eventually he explains that the girl is half human and half corpse (a zombie) animated by Wang Choi’s breath and therefore copies all the Wang Choi does, exactly. This leads to some of the more impressive moments of the film as Pauline Wong and Chin Siu Ho mimic each others (frequently acrobatic) movements in perfect choreography.

Master Chin books his ever growing party into a hotel, where they will plan their next move. Unfortunately Priest Wo is determined to ruin his brother by reanimating the vampire again and one of the guests at the hotel is the local Marshall (Wai Shum), who’s 9th concubine committed suicide rather than be with him. Her grave has just been robbed and the corpse taken, and you can guess who she was.

The rest of the film is slapstick comedy and martial arts, with little else in the way of plot. The film is a fun watch on an evening with little else to do, but it is low quality and not a patch on the original movie it apes so much. I can only really give this 3 out of 10 and recommend you watch Mr Vampire (1985) instead.

The imdb page is here.

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