Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Close encounter of the vampire – review

Director: Yuen Woo-Ping

Release date: 1986

Contains spoilers

This was a kyonsi movie, though one feels that the vampire in it actually deserved the moniker of stiff corpse more than many – as we’ll see. It is set in Huan Wanling, a place where corpses are preserved to prevent them from rotting. However this means that an exorcism has to be performed every 50 years to prevent them rising as vampires.

broken pipe, fighting kids
The film begins with said ritual as a Taoist attempts to preserve safety for another 50 years. Something, however, isn’t quite right. He muddles through and it is assumed all has gone as planned. After he and the townsfolk leave a stick of incense splits. Elsewhere we meet a group of kids. Rather than concentrate on the Taoist and his pupils the film concentrates on an actor and his pupils; three young boys, a young girl and a teen girl. The kids, it appears, are orphans. In this scene two of the boys fight and the master’s pipe is broken.

ass kicking time
Back at the cemetery a grave opens. The corpse rises and we see how much the limbs creak as they assume the kyonsi potion. It hops off disturbing a further grave of a child, who rises also. Over at the house a thief enters and is caught by the teen girl who kicks his ass until he runs away. A couple of bandits are divvying up loot when they find themselves kyonsi bait.

Ku-su and the taoist
The film then follows three paths. A Taoist student called Ku-su comes to town, sees the kyonsi footprints, confirms what they are by sticking a coin sword in them and causing them to smoke and tries to warn the town. His belief in the vampire is scorned by the Taoist master and the village chief and so he hunts it on his own.

The kids are also concentrated on, as well as their relationship with the master – who is a drunk and far from a great role model. Once they are sacked from the production in town (due to the child kyonsi) he casts them aside but time makes him realise how much he loves the kids. Of course, by then they are in all sorts of trouble.

child kyonsi
Finally there is the child kyonsi. Injured by Ku-su, it gravitates towards the kids (who think Ku-su, rather than the kyonsi is the ghost). Interestingly its entire being seems tied into the adult kyonsi, hopping around and attacking (abortively) when the adult does. I assumed this was because his awakening was caused by the adult vampire.

underwear on head
Lore wise it is all pretty standard. Black dog blood fails to do anything to the child kyonsi – though he is scared of dogs generally having been chased up a tree by one. On the other hand, a girl’s underwear placed over his head causes smoke to rise from the kyonsi and leaves his disorientated when removed.

The comedy elements were wacky, and the kids became a focal point, but it wasn’t that funny. The occasional kung-fu worked well but the overarching story of the master and the kids wasn’t a brilliant focal point. That said I have seen much worse kyonsi films.

4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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