Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hopping Vampire Vs Zombie – review

Director: Pingyuan Zhang

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

This was one that I stumbled over on YouTube and I doubt the video should have been there. With a garish watermark and sound flaws (the soundtrack disappeared on occasion – not the effects or the vocal track, just the music track) it clearly was a tad hooky. That said, someone had taken the trouble to subtitle it in English and another language and it was not flawed enough to prevent an honest appraisal of it.

The film is just over 1 hour long, aimed at a teen market I’d guess and IMDb had it as a comedy. I, on the other hand, didn’t find it that funny. Such is life, comedy is subjective after all.

Zai Cheng
Through the opening credits we see scenes of ancient China and then jump forward to the year 2030 and the remote Shenyin town. We see a rodent followed by an almost intelligent mist. The rodent reaches a corpse that starts to be revitalised as the mist touches it. Zai Cheng, former prince, is reborn as a vampire. It should be noted that the subtitles vary between corpse and zombie when describing both the zombies we’ll soon meet and Zai Cheng. The word vampire is never used and he most certainly never hops despite the title.

zombie munching
He walks into a wood in daylight (yes, this vampire can daywalk) and sees zombies eating bodies. Though they occasionally hiss at him they do not attack him. He hears a voice. Jiajia (Yuan Yuan) and Liu Jian (Yuxuan Zhang) have come into the area looking for food. The zombies hear them (we are told later they hunt by sound and smell) and go after them – these are running zombies, though they are inelegant in the run. Zai Cheng chases too. Jiajia falls and Liu Jian looks back and leaves her.

Jiajia's friends
Zai Cheng reaches her and remembers his former love, whom she resembles (there is no attempt to explore this in much depth, one can assume reincarnation but the film relies on viewer knowledge of the trope). He speaks haltingly to her and then kills the pursuing zombies (there isn’t much evidence that this needs anything more than a sword thrust, certainly no indication that brain severance is needed). However, when her other friends show up he is aggressive towards them (and they absolutely fumbling in their attacks) until she sends him away.

outside the supermarket
The friends – minus the now missing Liu Jian – spend the night in a ruin and come the morning, and following a minor zombie incursion when Yang Wei (Chao Wen) whistles as he pees, they decide to go into town to find food. Meanwhile the vampire seems to have supped on a bear and follows them, followed in turn by Liu Jian. The film then follows their attempt to get into a supermarket, their acceptance of Zai Cheng, Liu Jiang getting another girl, Lin Lin, bitten, an attempt to get serum from a hospital for her and Liu Jian being turned into a super zombie.

just fed
The zombie plague was caused by pollutants from an exploding factory entering the ecosystem and mutating mice, then crows and then humans. The kids, who were holidaying at the time, were spared as they did not drink the spring water. There is, as mentioned, a serum but clearly that didn’t stop the spread of the mutation despite the hospital having it.

zombie nurses
The comedy is generally slapstick – for instance one girl leading a zombie around and through a minivan to escape it and belting it with her weapons – two frying pans. There is a comedy fight scene between Yang Wei and a group of five zombie nurses that centres on his youthful lusts at these uniformed beauties (somehow they didn’t catch the worst excess of zombiehood) whilst fighting them (ogling cleavages, grabbing buttocks, looking up skirt)… oh, how we laughed – not. There is a moment when Yang Wei writes a spell scroll and puts it on Zai Cheng’s forehead. He stops, for a second to everyone’s relief, then removes it – it might have been a nice moment of playing with tropes but was too gossamer thin to truly work.

frying pans as weapons
The film, however, doesn’t hang around too long, so never out stays its welcome. It relies on acceptance rather than explanation and probably deserves an ok 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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