Monday, October 29, 2007

Counter Destroyer – review

Director: Edgar Jere

Release Date: 1989

Contains spoilers

Where to start, where to start? Also known as “The Vampire is Alive” this film is flimsily connected to the cinematic junk that are known as Devil’s Dynamite and Robo Vampire in that the andriobot returns, ish, short of… but I am way ahead of myself.

Like the two other films this has two disparate films merged into one, with the added bonus that one character actually moves between the stories.
Plot 1 begins with Joyce and her PA Cindy going off to a remote house to work on the script of a film, The Last Emperor of China. As they walk, with their driver, towards the house they see a Taoist performing rituals. Warned not to get too close, as they might be possessed by spirits, they get too close anyway. A bit of a chat with the Taoist and then a skull follows them to the house!

They get there and Joyce feels freaked by a picture of the last Emperor (whose eyes move when the girls aren’t looking). The phone goes and it is her boyfriend Dixon. After taking the call she rips the phone out of the wall and tells the driver to take it with him, so she has no distractions. He gets in the car, the disconnected phone rings and then the wire strangles him.

Let us leave plot 1 for now and go to plot 2, you see whilst the plots cut to and fro we have neatly set up Joyce’s predicament and this kicks off the entire second plot. The driver is also a bodyguard and works for film producer Lawrence. He has hired a PI, Jackie, to look into things as he believes the driver was killed by a rival producer – there are several versions of the film destined to be produced. Jackie is driving down the road and sees a woman, Fanny, chased by a guy with a gun. She picks Fanny up and takes her to a restaurant, where she recognises another producer and assassinates him.

At this point you’d be forgiven for believing that Jackie is a baddy, but the real baddy is Jackson – a third producer. He orders Jackie killed and ends up kidnapping Fanny and some guy called Roman – who the Hell he was I couldn’t work out. In the meantime Jackie has met policeman Paul (Sorapong Chatree) and got him to help investigate Jackson.

The fact that she appears to be on the side of law and order is irrelevant to the number of people she kills. One man is killed by being smeared with poison lipstick that corrodes his hand. Another is blown up by flowers – I kid you not. She slits one man’s throat with a knife – and she is the goody?

Meanwhile Dixon is off somewhere when he is randomly attacked by a pair of kyonsi and a western ghoul that looks more like a zombie with fangs (that didn’t fit properly). Having fought them for a while he transforms – no not into andriobot – but into a white robed ninja – as you do.

This entire plot line ends up with an extreme prejudice attack by the police and Jackie on Jackson’s boat. Huge shoot outs occur.

Back to plot 1. Joyce is working when she notices that Cindy has gone and something blood like is dripping from the ceiling. She investigates the house and spooks herself. We see Cindy being carried by a figure who looks like a Chinese Freddie Kruger. He has sharp razor claws – on a glove when we see it clearly, and rather than a burnt face it looks like he has oatmeal over it. Actually, much later, we discover he is the vampire beast – just as well that he lost the gorilla mask he wore in Robo Vampire.

A pair of kyonsi watch as he guts Cindy and starts to feast, commenting on how hungry they are – yes they are talking kyonsi, they also have the worst fangs in vampire movie history. The Taoist comes along and fights the Chinese Freddie (it is a more descriptive name than vampire beast) but it is pure slapstick and not that funny. Whilst he does this the kyonsi are feeding. Eventually the Taoist is defeated and chased off and Chinese Freddie gets his meal back. However Joyce wanders along and sees this, screams and… falls off her chair – it is all a dream.

The next day Cindy and Joyce are in the pool but Joyce’s lilo is punctured by a clawed hand. They end up being attacked and Joyce is raked by the glove. She pushes the Chinese Freddie down and runs, not seeing him turn into Joyce (is this getting confusing yet? Good). Joyce is now acting odd – like she is possessed.

You’d have thought so anyway but that night the Chinese Freddie attacks Joyce again, an attack that involves razor glove out of mattress, and tells her he needs a human woman to escape the spirit world, he was the last eunuch in China (go figure). He pushes her down and lies on her, vanishing. Cindy comes in, Joyce’s arm turns funky, rake and then bite of the neck. She kills Cindy. He leaves (in spectral form) saying that Jackson has ensured the script will not be written.

Later Dixon turns up and Joyce is all upset. Suddenly she has decayed razor arm again and tells him to keep away, she can’t control herself. She runs off into the night. He chases after her and tries to help but she expels the spirit of Chinese Freddie and he attacks.

Poor old Dixon! The woman he loves passed out on the floor and faced with oatmeal boy. What could he do? Well he spins around and transforms… no not into the white ninja but into andriobot – complete with gun. Fair enough. As the two fight the talking kyonsi reappear to feed on Joyce. They back off a bit when her belly grows and she births a child kyonsi. The child and the adult kyonsi fight.

Confused… you should be. The child kyonsi is upset as they killed his mother. The Taoist turns up and child kyonsi asks him to save his father – Chinese Freddie - but the Taoist sets his kyonsi onto Chinese Freddie. Once he is defeated he tells andriobot that Joyce’s spirit has been set free. Somehow, however, she is not dead as Joyce, Dixon and Lawrence visit Cindy’s grave.

Good Lord… what a mess. This film with no discernibly good dialogue, bad dubbing and plot holes has no ability to hold a story together coherently and shamelessly rips off more movies than you can count. A really poor film, with no redeeming features, except perhaps a drunk guy crying over the kidnapped Fanny and exclaiming “Fanny, my poor Fanny!” Avoid it like the plague… 0 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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