Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Vamp or Not? Dragon against Vampire


This was a Lionel Leung directed movie from 1985 and, despite the title and its place on many a vampire filmography, I found myself quickly questioning whether this was a vampire movie. Then again one filmography I checked stated that this was “an incoherent mess” and it wasn’t wrong. There is, perhaps, a good reason why you can pick this up for just 10p on Amazon Marketplace!

We start off with three rogues running through the forest. They are Albert, Tony (Elton Chong) and Martin. Now I realise that these are not particularly Chinese sounding names but this has everything to do with the fact that this is the sort of badly dubbed Hong Kong movie your mother warned you about. Anyway, these are escaped criminals and a supernatural element seems to be following them (as well as a gaoler).

hand reaches from the groundThe element that I talk of is a hand that seems to reach out of the ground, trying to grab Martin. Who or what this hand belongs to isn’t answered, at all. In fact the hand from the ground seems lost from this point on. Elsewhere, in what appears to be a restaurant, there is talk of a monster stalking young girls and we see the wanted poster for the criminals.

grave robberyTheir crimes? Well primarily it appears that they are grave robbers and we see Martin and Albert dig open a grave but the corpse has no gold teeth. They tell Tony to refill the grave. He looks at the corpse more carefully and finds a manji pendant. The manji is commonly known as the swastika and is often a symbol used, in Buddhism, to protect from evil spirits and is also an alternate sun symbol. In this case it seems to have held the corpse in place as, when removed, it grabs at Tony and then vanishes.

the virgin sisterIn the restaurant, one of the girls is in the bath but is stalked and taken by a magician. He states that he brings happiness as she is a virgin. It then appears that he uses eye mojo as she starts to smile at him. So could it be that he is the vampire of the piece?

Elton Chong as TonyNo (ish, I’ll explain the ish later) Yes, he has eye mojo and he seems to be after virgins, for their blood, but he simply stabs her. Following this we get a protracted scene with Martin catching a dog – that ends up as dinner. We see a man trapped in a cavern and then the gaoler attack the criminals in a slapstick fight (as I said the film is incoherent) Tony escapes either on the back of a giant turtle or holding a motorised log… it was difficult to tell.

the magicianAnyway, the criminals find a house (belonging to the magician it appears) and within it a coffin. Tony looks inside and we see the ‘vampire’… it would appear. Tony has his eyes closed so declares it empty. The men sleep there and Albert is grabbed and killed. The magician appears and Tony and Martin run into the night, Tony falling into a cavern with the bearded man.

shaolin masterIt appears he is a Shaolin master, held prisoner by the magician. He tries eye mojo on Tony but he is immune (this might be due to the manji). The Shaolin master is held prisoner as the magician wants to learn a spell that he knows; he also only ever walks on his hands as he is permanently in lotus position. There is a confusing moment with the ‘vampire’ and the gaoler during this particular sequence.

Long story short, Martin and Tony end up at the restaurant and, as Tony falls for the sister, Fanny, they end up helping fight the magician and the ‘vampire’. Is he a vampire?

vampire?Well he has an odd look; face clay making him seem lumpy. We never see him bite or drink blood and then… well it isn’t face clay, it is a rubber mask, or so the filmmakers would have us believe, and the magician wears it. It is actually quite Scooby-Doo as it seems to be a villain wearing a rubber mask to scare the locals (and to cover up his murders… it appears he needs virgin blood for his spells).

chicken bloodWe get some blood drinking… a possessed Fanny (controlled by the magician) beheads a chicken and drinks its blood. Why? If only I could tell you. It might have been useful if the film had actually explained anything within its running time, instead the viewer is left to pick at the bones of badly dubbed, badly written dialogue that may or may not have had anything to do with the original script whilst trying to divine a scrap of meaning.

Is it vamp? I have no idea but I doubt it. If anyone can tell me otherwise then I will gladly hear why (other than the title) this should be classed as a vampire film because, for the life of me, I just cannot see it. There are, in fairness, what appear to be resuscitated corpses but no evidence that these are vampires.

The imdb page is here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I bought this film for $2 from the thrift shop with a love for lame, badly dubbed kung-fu films. This movie delivered on the cheesy nonsense I was expecting. If that is your desire, it's great. I will admit that your review made better sense of the movie than I could make myself. I literally couldn't tell why this was named Dragon Against Vampire or what story this even had other than the sake of killing time. There is a certain charm and style to these forgettable low budget movies.