Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ultimate Vampire – review

Director: Lau Wai-Keung

Release date: 1991

Contains spoilers

This was a Hong Kong vampire movie starring the inimitable Lam Ching-Ying as Master Gau – a Taoist priest, with a couple of lame apprentices. So generally it followed a typical Hong Kong kyonsi type vampire film framework. There were some differences though; of course one finds that with a lot of the Chinese vampire films, many follow a standard pattern or set of patterns but change things just a little to make them stand out from the others.

leaves to see ghosts
It begins with Gau printing money for the ghost festival, so that it can be burnt to placate the ghosts of the ancestors. One of assistants, Charleson according to the subtitles I saw but Hsi according to imdb (either way he was played by Chin Siu-hou), helps whilst the other, Wanchi (Ronald Wong), watches a play put on for the ghosts. When Charleson and Gau arrive they put leaves over their eyes to see the ghosts.

surrounded by ghosts
Wanchi believes himself to be alone, but the others can see a whole group of ghosts and the Hell Police, there to take the ghosts back at the end of the performance. A pair of female ghosts show interest in Wanchi and one (Carrie Ng) breaths on him so he can see the ghosts. Charleson is sent in attached to a red cord, to stop his friend being carried to Hell but both fall for the ghost and use prayer scrolls to immobilise the Hell Police. This allows all the ghosts to escape.

Lau Shun as Shek Kin
Gau must get the help of other Taoists to capture all the ghosts and this includes the powerful Shek Kin (Lau Shun). They lure the ghosts using the assistants and some pungent tofu and trap them in an area, allowing the Taoists to recapture them. However Shek seems more intent on destroying them much to Gau’s disgust. Between Gau and the assistants the female ghost escapes capture.

Lam Ching-Ying as Gau
Gau also has to pay all the money he has printed to the Hell Police as reparation. Thus he looks to get a job sorting the Feng Shui of a restaurant. Charleson manages to blow getting the job for him but also spots Shek’s son (Wong Chi Yeung) stealing a hair from the restaurant owner’s daughter – intent on using black magic to have his wicked way with her.

the vampire leader
That night Shek’s son astrally projects in order to molest her. Charleson and the ghost prevent this happening whilst Wanchi hides the wicked man’s body. Unfortunately it is savaged by wild dogs. To heal the body, before the soul is returned to it, Shek asks them to get a coffin mushroom for him. This is actually a trap, as he doesn’t want the mushroom. It is also where the kyonsi come into it.

Kyonsi awaken
There is a place where a load of coffins rest, each containing a vampire. The coffin mushroom is actually a pocket of air stored in the vampire leader’s throat. They have to suck the mystical air out and return it to Shek. Luckily the moon is not out and thus the kyonsi are not active. This, of course, makes for a little bit of vampire/lunar lore. Unfortunately the evil Shek makes the moon come out, hoping that Gau and his pupils will die.

raised as a vampire
Later he raises his son as a vampire, who feeds on blood to sustain himself but can walk around in daylight. To stop him Gau creates a 100 precious soup – a soup made out of 100 precious things (those things including dog poo as it is nutritious for plants) – this acts like holy water on a western vampire – burning him when thrown over him.

The ultimate vampire
Shek then raises him again (having broken his son’s neck to make it appear that he is a good man) as a purple faced vampire and sends a horde of zombie like ghosts after the heroes. Meanwhile the female ghost has fallen in love with Gau...

The film relied a little too much on comedy for my taste and did follow a general Hong Kong pattern – even if the lore was a little unusual. The film did nothing wrong and is a worthwhile watch if you are a Chinese Vampire and/or Hong Kong cinema fan. However it is also nothing special. 5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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