Monday, June 21, 2010

Vampire Super – review

Director: Ricky Lau

Release date: 2007

Contains spoilers

When I sat down to watch this I hadn’t realised that the director was Ricky Lau, the man who brought us the sublime Mr Vampire. However, once the film started the entire look and feel of the film screamed Lau. This was a comeback film, from what I can gather, though at the time the review was written it did not feature on imdb.

It begins in a graveyard. A girl, Lei (Candice Chan), makes an offering before a grave. Elsewhere in the graveyard a Japanese man, Mr Redmonkey, is digging up grave goods – one suspects illegally. A group of men carry a litter containing Mayor Feng and he gives the advice never to look back in a graveyard. Up ahead a kyonsi appears and the men drop the litter and run.

the graveyard
The kyonsi chases after Feng and attacks him. The next we see him he falls at the grave with Lei and she realises he is poisoned. She starts sucking the poison from his neck wound. The town guards run into the graveyard and see the girl at the mayor’s neck. She is arrested and he dies. The captain, Gui-Zhong Wang (Zhang Guo Li), sends his second in command and some men to take her into custody, Redmonkey goes with them.

Lei kills herself
They get to a hut and rest and it is clear that the men intend to rape her. Redmonkey gives the second in command a gold watch and is left with her. He takes a jade pendant she wears and rapes her. The others return and are round her when the Captain arrives. She takes a gun off the second in command and kills herself.

Miss Quong and Ann
It is assumed that the Captain will become the mayor but a new mayor, Cheng (Yuen Wah), is sent. He arrives by motorbike and side-car along with his sister Miao (Candy Lo), who is a doctor, and Ann (Mei Li Na) her best friend. At first the mayor seems a buffoon – ill as he is from the journey – but it soon becomes clear that he is sharper than he lets on.

Yuen Wah as Mayor Cheng Quong
The first port of call is the coffin home, where the effeminate Song (Chin Ka Lok) is horrified that Miao would want to do an autopsy on the dead mayor – feeling it is disrespectful to the dead. He explains that souls return seven days after death to ensure that the body is being treated correctly. Just then the shutters blow closed and it appears that the ghost of Lei has arrived. However it is her sister, Moon (also Candice Chan), who has come to sit and await the soul’s return.

spiders on Fatty
That night one of the guards, Fatty, who was involved in the rape is asleep when a figure passes his window. He is awakened by the large spiders that crawl over him, they bite him and he dies. It seems as though the spirit of Lei is looking for revenge.

a fake kyonsi
Meanwhile Miao and Ann go to do the autopsy. They go to the toilet and Song takes the opportunity to hide the mayor’s body, dress as a kyonsi and scare the women. When they find the truth, Miao slaps him several times and tells him to return the body… but it has gone.

haunting Redmonkey
From then on the ghost of Lei seems to be killing those associated with her rape and death and the kyonsi seems rather interested in the new mayor. It all seems tied into the grave of a famous general that is concealed in the graveyard, under an ordinary marker. The new mayor should know the truth of the grave but, of course, the previous mayor should have been able to pass that knowledge on before his untimely death.

Song is actually dealt with sympathetically
Ricky Lau came back with a film that balanced mystery, thriller and comedy in a way that Lau does well. Perhaps it didn’t all hold together as well as Mr Vampire but few things will. There is a little bit of martial art action, a lot less lore – though we get the idea of peach wood bullets to stop vampires – and a good splattering of comedy. The comedy centres on Song, whose effeminate traits are blamed on his parents – they dressed him as a girl to cure his sickly demeanour. However, the jokes are actually sympathetic towards him and he becomes both the hero of the piece and Miao’s love interest.

There are some unanswered plot points within the film but I can’t spoil them without spoiling the crux of the film. These do, however, annoy as you realise they are there. However, all in all this is a good little piece, a solid comeback and a film that those who enjoyed Mr Vampire will get much out of.

6 out of 10.

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