Thursday, March 05, 2009

Doctor Vampire – review

dvdDirected by: Jamie Luk

Release date: 1991

Contains spoilers

This Hong Kong movie actually starts off in England and, as the source of the vampirism, you’ll find that this is actually a more Western orientated movie when it comes to lore – though the lore is strange. It does reference kyonsi and feature a Taoist priest as well.

arriving at castleChiang Ta-Tsung (Bowie Lam) is a doctor on a trip to England. He is driving along a country lane when he breaks down. He walks and comes across a castle. He finds a door which opens and a girl welcomes him to the Paradise and he enters what looks just like a country pub. I say that but this is in décor only, most country pubs don’t have what looks like business men and girls having an orgy (or I just go to the wrong pubs).

Somewhat disturbed by what is going on he ends up going down stairs towards a dungeon area. There he sees a man and a Chinese girl, Alice (Ellen Chan). To him it seems the man is an aggressor but to us it is clear that she is, nevertheless he rescues her. Leading her back upstairs she suggests that he escapes whilst he prattles on about the police. The barmaid gives him another drink (he had a coke when he entered the place) and drops a pill into the drink.

Ellen Chan as AliceHe is bedded by Alice and, afterwards, he admits that it was his first time. She gives him a necklace to remember it by and he gives her a talisman he is wearing in return. She starts kissing down his body and fangs appear. Off screen she bites – ouch… yes just there... Later the girls are feeding the master vampire (Peter Kjær), it seems they feed and then he takes that blood from her. He is dissatisfied until Alice, when he tastes the ginseng flavoured blood… he wants more but Chiang has left.

Chiang has returned to his hospital in Hong Kong where he and two other doctors are the worst performing of all the doctors in the hospital (as they don’t do enough operations, and an on-running gag is the unnecessary operations they have to perform. For instance they are about to perform a circumcision to alleviate a cold!). He is bragging about loosing his virginity until a nurse, May (Sheila Chan), comes over – as she is his girlfriend.

Sheila Chan as MayThat night she cooks him dinner – ginseng soup and garlic prawns that he cannot eat – and does his laundry. She finds lipstick on a collar and two spots of blood in his underpants. The lipstick he tries to explain the blood he can’t. She goes home (to the flat opposite) in a huff. She wonders where his talisman is – after all she gave it him to stop him wandering.

rotting AliceChiang starts to change. He needs dark glasses as the sun hurts his eyes and finds himself really wanting a formal suit with cloak. He appears to have telekinetic powers and an appendectomy (for a headache) causes him to want to sample the blood. He dreams of Alice, with a rotted face, and finds himself floating on the ceiling.

yawn worthy sexual jokeThis leads to one of the poorer areas of the humour within the film. Having fought with his colleagues (when they told him off for drinking tomato juice with two straws) and it looking like he is in a homosexual tryst, he discovers the bite on his penis. He has his colleagues check it and a nurse sees him and it looks like they are performing fellatio. This isn’t the only yawn worthy sexual joke in the film.

acting like a kyonsiHe leaves the room, bouncing around like a kyonsi as he wonders how a vampire should move (later his colleagues give him a traditional burial suit). He sees Alice waiting for him and legs it. However she is waiting for him in his flat. He is not a full vampire and will not be until he tastes human blood. She can change him back but it requires a dead body whose blood is still warm. The only other way is to kill the master vampire.

curative transfusionA person dies in the hospital and Alice performs an operation to save Chiang. It involves a transfusion back and forth between corpse and half-vampire, whilst she channels mystical energy, presumably the green blood is the infected blood. It goes wrong when she collapses and the corpse reanimates – and it is horny. Cue a sub-Benny Hill chase round the hospital to try and remove the blood from the corpse whilst it wanders around with an erection it wishes to use on the nurses.

Alice feeds from a wristUnfortunately a jealous May wants to make sure she keeps her man and her flatmate takes her to a Taoist master. He makes a potion that will cause him to fall in love with only her – a potion she puts into chicken soup. The potion evidentially doesn’t work but it does turn him to a full vampire as it has drops of May’s blood in it.

staked boy scoutMeanwhile the head vampire and his female sidekick (Lorraine Kibble) arrive in Hong Kong. Throw in the interfering Taoist master – whose techniques don’t work against western vampires – and a Boy Scout vampire rising whilst he tries to deal with Alice and Chiang and you have a recipe for slapstick fight sequences.

double staked through the breastsSome of the bizarre aspects of this section are the sidekick being double staked through the breasts by a couple of swords – probably the only double breast staking I can think of right now – and the master fighting a laser weapon (being some sort of laser surgery implement) with death rays from his eyes. We really have left standard territory, though vampire death rays are not entirely unknown. There is an attempt to inject the master with acid to kill him – this only seems to annoy. The actual ending does invoke traditional Chinese mythology and is somewhat reminiscent of Mortuary Blues.

laser battleThe film, in many respects, throws too much in – the gangster patient seems more than he is, simply a foil for inappropriate operations, the administrator of the hospital likewise is just a source of humour that seems unnecessary. It was the main sexually orientated humour that really let this down for me as it just wasn’t that funny. Yet the story of Chiang and Alice could have had some very amusing moments and was reasonably uncluttered storywise.

Not the best Hong Kong movie, but worth a look at. 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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