Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vamp or Not? Mr Vampire 3

dvd

The third film of the Mr Vampire series and it must seem strange that I have looked at this under the auspices of ‘Vamp or Not?’ After all, the first film is one of the finest examples of a Chinese vampire movie and the second film, whilst not up to the same standard, is an above average vampire flick.

This film, directed by Ricky Lau and released in 1987, goes back to a period setting once more – ignoring the turn, in the second film, to a contemporary setting. Ching Ying Lam is back in this film as a Taoist master but, to be honest, as the film starts we concentrate on another character.

Richard Ng as Mao MingMao Ming (Richard Ng) is a priest called in to exorcise a house, which has only been built for a year, as it is haunted. Seemingly there have been nine previous attempts. After the normal Taoist ritual scene he enters the house and does battle but, it becomes readily apparent, the ghosts are with Ming and he has set this up to make money. Think the Frighteners long before it was ever produced.

the female ghostHaving ‘defeated’ the ghosts the owner is confused, he believed the house was haunted by a female ghost. Ming ends up back in the house and faced with not only the female ghost but her whole family – the house has been built on their burial plot. Ming cannot hold his own and ends up leaving town.

Pauline Yuk Wan Wong as the evil sorceressHe arrives at a town that seems deserted but, in actual fact, the locals are prepared to ambush horse thieves. With the Master’s help, Lam’s character, the thieves are attacked and their magic defeated. This is in a spectacular battle scene that outstrips anything in the pervious films. However, the thieves are led by an evil sorceress (Pauline Yuk Wan Wong) and she is not so easily defeated.

The film then follows her attempt to rescue her men, the men’s ghosts attacking the locals and her zombie’s attack. Despite a darker edge the film manage to throw in some comedy that works much more consistently than the comedy in film 2. So where are the vampires?

Tao Pao possessing a corpseTo be honest there is one almost vampire moment. The friendly ghost Ta Pao (Fong Lui) is captured by the sorceress and forced into a corpse. He is bewitched to attack Taoist robes, by seeing the wearer as an eagle (okay this bit didn’t work so well for me, the sight of the fight with a man in, what amounted to, a chicken costume was a step too far). For some reason the possessed corpse has fangs – but in no other way does it act like a kyonsi. It is just not that vampiric.

There is a moment with bats but whilst bats are common within Western vampire myth, I am not that aware of their presence in Chinese folklore (with the exception in Chinese/Western crossover movies). Indeed this seems no more than an attack by magically created creatures.

This is a great film – with the chicken suit exception – but it is not vamp.

The imdb page is here.

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