Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Romance of the Vampires – review


Director: Ricky Lau

Release date: 1994

Contains spoilers

An odd Hong Kong movie, in that the vampire premise is entirely Western – though the lore is a little odd in places – but sub-genre wise Romance of the Vampire really doesn’t know what it wants to be.

It is clear that Ricky Lau wanted to try something different to the more traditional, kyonsi based, vampire films he had previously made. Its just I don’t think he quite knew what. Is this a romance, it certainly has aspects of unrequited love and a love through lifetimes’ theme that owes a debt to Dan Curtis. It drips with melodrama in places and yet it has that slightly off-kilter, rude Chinese humour and a softcore sex drama aspect.

impractical coffinThe story sees vampires Moon (Mondi Yau) and Fung (Ben Lam) move to Hong Kong. As I mentioned these are very much Western vampires. They have retractable fangs, avoid sunlight and have a coffin – okay it is a glass coffin, which wouldn’t offer much protection from the sun, but it is a coffin.

They start to use an escort Agency where Cheung (Louie Yuen) works as a guard for the escorts. One of the escorts is Rainbow (Yvonne Yung Hung). She works as an escort as she is blind and is saving for an operation that will hopefully restore her sight.

Ben Lam as FungFung sees a picture of Rainbow and she looks just like his lost love – lost when his vampiric urges overcame him and he ate her. He meets Rainbow when her ex-boyfriend Kwai Chung (Billy Chow) kidnaps her. Kwai Chung took her sight and has spent five years in jail as a result – he wants compensating for the jail time! Fung saves her.

He woos the girl, much to the disgust of Cheung who is in love with her also. Worse than having a jealous mortal is having a jealous vampire and Moon is envious of the romance as well. Of course Rainbow doesn’t know what Fung actually is.

walking into the sunThe lore, as I said, was a little odd. It seems that Fung’s hands can glow and this glow can heal wounds (though not eyesight) and create diamond necklaces. When Rainbow’s operation fails Feng decides to sacrifice himself to save her sight. He walks into the sun – which seems to cause lightning to course up and down his body.

staked by crucifixSuddenly he is crispy and crying blood tears that are gathered and used to restore her sight. Other than that things are fairly standard, it looked like garlic worked against the vampires and a crucifix in the heart seemed to work as a weapon – the crucifix glows when used.

a healing potion for vampiresWe also discover that the vampires must be careful as to the blood they drink. Moon drinks from a man with the flu and becomes ill herself – describing it as drinking dirty blood. Fung saves her by feeding her some green smoking liquid, details of what the liquid was were not offered by the film.

Mondi Yau as MoonThe main problem with the film is the melodrama. This drips, as I mentioned, and not in a good way. It was weighed down with the stuff and the film seemed to go – softcore sex scene, roughly unfunny comedy moment, melodrama, softcore sex scene and so on, in a cycle.

There were some nice individual moments but, as a whole, I thought this to be fairly weak. 3 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Jaci_ofthe_dead said...

thank you for being honest about that movie... !!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Jaci_ofthe_dead, no problem - I always try to be honest about the movies. Yes I love the genre but there are some... ahem... not so good efforts out there. That said I watch theem all!!!

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

When people go on and on about the great Asian horror movies, I always point them to movies like this.

Taliesin_ttlg said...


undoubtedly there are some great Asain horror movies and it can be argued that some, the cream of the crop, are leading the way at the moment.

There is undoubtedly also a lot of rubbish out there. Its like any film market, I guess, but only the better films are floating into the general awareness of Western consumers. Its always good to remind people there are films like this one from that market as well.