Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vamp or Not? The Seventh Curse

The 1986 Ngai Kai Lam directed Seventh Curse seems to be available in a couple of cuts. The version I have seen starts with a dinner party from which a novelist, Mr Ngai (Kuang Li), introduces the ladies present to Wesley Wei (Yun-Fat Chow) and Yuan Chen (Siu-hou Chin; Ultimate Vampire, Chinese Vampire Story and Vampire Vs Vampire) and then goes on to tell them about one of their adventures. The action is then displayed as a complete film, returning to the party at the end of the movie. The other cut seems to have split the stories into episodes and intercuts the film with scenes of the party.

Indeed there was a series of “Wisley” films, of which this is one. Wisley was an occult expert played by different actors in each film. In this case his name has been transposed to Wesley.

Yuan enters the building
Be that as it may we see Yuan Chen at the scene of a police raid on a building taken by villains and discover he is a doctor, but with his martial arts, his knowledge of weapons and his cold as ice nerves he seems more like James Bond in spectacles. He is going in to treat a hostage but his ‘nurse’ will be a cop and they have a flash bomb to set off in the first aid kit. Unfortunately a reporter, Rainbow (Maggie Cheung), has knocked out the cop and taken her place to get a scoop. Things nearly go wrong but Yuan lets her go at the end.

She chases after him, looking to do a feature on him, harassing him at a party. He loses her and gets home and is about to have some nooky with a lady friend when he is accosted by a man, Black Dragon (Dick Wei). They fight, wreck the place and then talk. Black Dragon wants him to return to Thailand, Yuan has a blood curse on him and he will die soon. Betsy (Sau-Lai Tsui) is also cursed, he must save her. He is also told no nooky as he will die sooner – some nooky later and a curse bursts from his body.

Sau-Lai Tsui as Betsy
He goes to see Wesley and explains what happened. He then relates an expedition to Thailand a year before in search of herbs that might help cure AIDS. He was dismissive of talk of magic by the expedition leader and so was unconcerned that the nearby worm tribe was reputed to have evil magic aplenty. The first tribe member he saw was Betsy, swimming in a robe that left nothing to the imagination. That night they heard drums, a ritual was being celebrated, and Yuan, with a few others, went to investigate.

Elvis Tsui as Aquala
Betsy was amongst four villagers in white robes. The head shaman, Aquala (Elvis Tsui), asks her for an answer and she refuses (presumably him) even though he has sent Black Dragon away. He then walks before the supplicants looking for a sacrifice for Ancient Ancestor. His magic spearhead glows in front of one man and then in front of Betsy. Can I just say that I never, when I started this blog, conceived that I would be writing a sentence about a glowing magical spearhead.

little ghost
One of the tribesmen is actually vocal with his objection to this turn of events. Betsy, it transpires, was the last chief’s daughter. The shaman isn’t happy and releases a monster at him that flies and rips his throat out sucking his blood. This is our first potential vampire. We learn later it is a “Little Ghost” a magical construct that is created (once every three years) from the blood of 100 children and specifically flies, drinks blood and kills. The only other thing we learn about it is that it can be overcome with a mixture of cow placenta and black dog’s blood – an ingredient that appears in respect of vampires in some version of Chinese lore.

Ancient Ancestor attack Yuan
Betsy is taken into the temple and Yuan decides to rescue her. She, and the man, are tied before the sarcophagus of Ancient Ancestor and the shaman awakens him by pouring blood on the sarcophagus. Yuan ends up fighting the desiccated corpse, which has glowing eyes, is stronger than Yuan and is bullet proof. It bends Betsy’s neck to bite the throat and eats of the flesh of the man – subsequently turning into a demon like creature.

demon form
Suffice it to say – as we need not consider much else with regard the “Vamp or Not?” – that Yuan escapes, is captured, is cursed and saved by Betsy. The curse will kill him as it explodes in seven parts, the seventh at his heart, and so he ends up going back to Thailand with Rainbow in tow (she is Wesley’s cousin it transpires). Both of the primary creatures have some vampiric traits, indeed Hong Kong Cinemagic calls Ancient Ancestor a “vampire demon” and he seems to gain his powers directly from flesh and blood. The “Little Ghost” is reminiscent, vaguely, of some Far Eastern vampire types, but twisted to the needs of the films.

Ancient Ancestor is the one that gets me thinking of this as a vampire film – or at least with enough elements to warrant a place on filmographies. I will say, for fans of Yun-Fat Chow, his role is little more than a supporting, perhaps even a cameo, role. The imdb page is here.

No comments: