Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Vampire Kids – review

Directed by: Keith Li

Release date: 1991

Contains spoilers

There are some poor Hong Kong films out there and, honestly, this is one of them. A film marred by unworkable comedy moments involving characters most of whom are not named and who have no back stories for the audience to pin sympathies to.

That said this film does have an interesting main vampire. The lore, however, seems utterly screwed up. It is not just the fact that there seems to be very little lore, generally, but that the little we get is not explained in any way, shape or form. The film begins with a typical kyonsi bouncing along. Don’t forget him, he won’t reappear for a while.

Then we get scenes of survivors of a shipwreck washing up on a deserted island. There is, as we get few actual names, a brainy guy, his uncle, a guide (Sandra Ng Kwan Yue), a young woman, a fat guy (Billy Lau), a man and his wife (though they are not yet registered), a muscular guy who may have been called Buffalo and his busty sister (Amy Yip). The poor comedy begins with her needing resuscitation and is centred on the size of her boobs.

Japanese decor
The survivors wander towards a village – though the buildings seem rather spaced out. Brainy guy, the uncle and the young woman enter one building that was clearly used by a Japanese soldier – probably an outpost during the Second World War. The uncle picks up a katana and looks to be trying to commit seppuku, and it appears he is possessed. He is stopped, we see a picture of a Japanese soldier but no more is said about the suicide attempt or potential possession.

vampire awakens
The guide is in another building and backs into a stick embedded in mud with a diamond at the end of it (and the most fake looking diamond at that). She starts trying to remove it and doesn’t notice the mud cracking to reveal the face of the Japanese soldier, who has fangs. The guide removes the diamond and then fights over it with the busty girl. Eventually Buffalo intervenes and throws the diamond away, but the guide finds it again. No one noticed the vampire, who is still pinned to the wall and who manages to revive himself slightly by sucking on a passing mouse.

the vampire kids
There are no real incidents that night, in a supernatural sense, and I am not going to relay the silly jokes that primarily centre around the fat guy and the married man. The next day the married man finds tomatoes and they all fight over them, managing to eat some each until the brainy guy notices and tells them they are poisonous. They will cause them to pass out and then go mad. He gets knocked out for his trouble. As it is that night the vampire kids appear and the survivors wake and have indeed gone mad.

holding breath
The vampire kids find themselves attacked by these mad people (who do not attack each other). In a complete turn around of lore the kids stop breathing so that the humans cannot see them. As we know, not breathing is a way of avoiding kyonsi normally. Eventually the kids run away and return, empty stomached as it were, to the Japanese vampire (referred to as the king vampire) who sent them out to drain the blood to bring back for him.

daylight disguises
He names the kids Fatty, Timid, Stupid, Sharp Teeth and Naughty, and controls them by means of magic – and magic collars we later discover. He sends them back out for blood. The survivors wake, recovered from the poison, and the kids try to get them during the day. Can they survive daylight? Apparently so, though they do wear leaves... Does this protect them or just disguise them? Who knows? They fail to harvest any plasma, as none of them actually want to suck blood. They are forced to attack the humans again when night falls and are, eventually, subdued.

king vampire attacks
The King vampire realises that the humans are trying to remove the controlling collars and manages to captures a particularly crap looking bat and eat it. This gives him enough power to push the stake out and go get the humans himself. They fight him and quickly realise that the diamond can hurt him. He is pinned in the mouth with a bamboo and forced to swallow the diamond. This blows him up.

kyonsi dad
The kyonsi from the beginning then returns and, it turns out, he is the kids’ father. He takes them off. The end, and thank god. This just didn’t work that well in my opinion. The lore was skew-whiff, aspects like the diamond just were, with no explanation what so ever. How long had he controlled the kids, why had the father not come before and who pinned him to the wall? The film does not deign it necessary to tell us. The jokes are thin, the characters have less personality than the names I gave them (and which, in the main, the film failed to give them). 2 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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