Musical Vampire (1992)

Directed by
Manages to break the unbreakable
Reviewed by Simon on 2002-03-27

It was previously considered that the formula Lam Ching-Ying + Vampires was a foolproof formula for movie success. And you'd think that taking Wilson Tong as director and sprinkling in a little bit of Loletta Lee and Xiong Xin-Xin could only improve things... but Musical Vampire proves us all wrong.

Fundamentally this is because of 3 or 4 basic mistakes:

1. Lam Ching-Ying is only in the movie for about 15 minutes (these being by far the best 15 minutes, incidentally). Stanley Fung is a very nice chap, I'm sure, but simply doesn't have the degree of awesomeness that Lam Ching-Ying has.

2. The hero is some annoying dipstick of a man, who is quite devoid of charisma. Scenes that are meant to be amusing are instead annoying. The very young looking and not-bald Xiong Xin-Xin should have had much more screen time (XXX does kick ass when he gets the chance too)

3. The biggest, most fatal one... they utterly betrayed the whole Gyonsi concept by trying to give the vampire a personality! The vampire becomes a menace after his corpse is stolen, and some mad gweilo scientist decides to inject stimulants into its brain for 'research'. Minutes later, the corpse has sprouted pointy canines and is tearing out the throat of the scientist and all around.

Now we know that the scientist's meddling has made this gyonsi somewhat different to the usual - sucking blood and being completely immune to the usual Taoist techniques for instance. But did they really have to make him run around waving his arms at people and snarling like a mad dog? It totally destroys the gravitas, the sense of the mysterious and alien undead that the gyonsi usually manage to carry (even whilst hopping in comedy fashion). Add to this the fact that he has far too many facial expressions and likes to sniff people, and you're looking at something more like an animal than a fiend from the grave...

...and then it speaks.

4. The vampire speaks. What were they thinking? It doesn't speak in grave tones of doom like Christopher Lee, but in some kind of feral whining language that only Lam Ching-Ying can understand. I swear they mixed up the concept of 'vampire' and 'dog'. So sad, so sad, so sad

The only worthwhile bits are when Lam Ching-Ying turns up as the bad-assed Taoist vampire buster we know and love, only to discover that this particular vampire is immune to everything he throws at it. Only the sound of music pacifies him. To be honest, I forget how they finally vanquish him in the end... I think I may have already fallen asleep by the time it happened.