Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters - Any Good?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael Martin, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. Michael Martin

    Michael Martin Screenwriter

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    My local blockbuster has this title in stock, and it's caught my interest. Has anyone seen it, and can they give a review or recommendation? Is it an action film, a horror film with action, or something else entirely?

    For the record, I loved Blade, was iffy on Blade II, disliked Carpenter's Vampires, and am relatively ignorant in the ways of Hong Kong action films.

    Thanks in advance to any feedback y'all can give.
     
  2. Phil Florian

    Phil Florian Screenwriter

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    For a rental, Tsui Hark is a good bet. I love his pre-leaving Hong Kong stuff a lot. I enjoyed bits of his return to form, the frentic "Time and Tide" but I haven't seen this one. I saw some pics from it and it looks to be set in the same era as his best movies (imho) the "Once Upon a Time in China" series, which also happens to be Jet Li's best work (also imho). So without seeing it, I can still recommend taking the risk and renting it. I certainly won't be the ponderous disappointment that Carpenter's movie was (I agree with you on this) and I doubt it will have an all-CGI martial arts combat ala Blade 2 (though I was overall less iffy with it than you said). Rent it and let us know how it looks! [​IMG]

    Phil
     
  3. Clay-F

    Clay-F Stunt Coordinator

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    My brother rented it a few months ago. I quit watching about halfway through, but he finished it. Its one that I definately wont ever finish.

    I just didnt find anything worth watching it for. Its not funny, and the action isnt there. The vampire is a stickdoll of some kind.

    If you see it I suggest getting a bunch of people together and start drinking heavily about an hour beforehand......[​IMG]
     
  4. Jeremy Anderson

    Jeremy Anderson Screenwriter

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    I'm a big fan of cheesy kung-fu and horror flicks... but Vampire Hunters is horrible. There weren't even any memorable fight scenes. My opinion: SKIP IT.
     
  5. Brian Kissinger

    Brian Kissinger Screenwriter

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    Here is a lengthy review I did for this film from another thread. Beware, I rented this movie looking for a fun, crappy movie.

    Tsui Hark’s
    Vampire Hunters
    directed by Wellson Chin


    Five Heroes. A Coven of Vampires. A Lot of Bad Blood



    Okay, I guess before I get started here, you should know I have a soft spot in my heart for vampires. I’ll watch damn near anything if it features vampires. I also (to a much lesser extent) have a soft spot for kung fu movies. So, take the two and combine them, and I’m in Heaven. Vampire Hunters is such a piece.

    Now this film (as with almost all kung fu-horror-vampire-love stories) takes a few liberties here and there. Most notably a strange compass that seems to alert our heroes whenever there is a vampire in the vicinity. However, this film also takes some of the vampire lore and puts a twist on it. Now, usually when writers/directors decide to start messing around with the vampire world, it tends to end up contradictive or just plain stupid. Here, however, I was never taken aback, or got ruffled.

    It seems that when a person dies, if their soul is at unrest, it starts to build and collect negative energies. These energies eventually lead to physical change and allow the dead to move again. Now when these dead feed on the living, they become vampires. I know, it doesn’t sound very good right from the start. However, the film never really dwells heavily on this, and it never seems as ridiculous at it sounds.

    Well there just happens to be a kung fu master who trains a band of warriors to fight this evil before it takes over the land. It’s never really explained where he got his funding, but one can only assume that in 19th Century China, the government had special monies set aside for vampire emergencies. And, as with all special units of this nature, there are four warriors who excel above and beyond the call of vampire ass-kicking. And so they are named after the four elements: Wind, Rain, Thunder and Lightning. However, they get a name change early in the movie, and it’s never really brought up again. Actually I'm not real sure why the names, and more impotantly why I even bring it up.

    Well as luck would have it, the majority of the unit is killed and our four stars are separated from their master on their first run-in with a bloodsucker. Our heroes wander around for three months and then (through the help of their cool vampire finder/compass)end up at a wedding. It so happens that the household where this wedding takes place, isn’t but a couple minutes ride from the area where our heroes first got their asses kicked. What they did for those three months is beyond me. Hey, it’s a kung fu vampire movie.

    Well, the bride (Sasa) is rushed in to marry Jiang household’s young heir, who has lost six previous wives within days after marriage. Sounds kinda suspicious huh? It seems as if Jiang is a retired police chief, and is believed to have gold coming out of his ears. And there just also happens to be a vicious rumor of vampires! So what are our heroes to do? Why get jobs at the wedding of course!

    Our heir is married, and it turns out that seven just isn’t his lucky number. He’s bitten by a poisonous snake and dies that night. Jiang hires those zany elements to stay on and kill the snake. Oh yeah, Sasa’s brother (Dragon) had her married into the Jiang family in hopes of getting some of that gold to pay off his nasty gambling debts. Funny thing is, he kills off his debtors in his introductory sequence (thus firmly establishing him as a bad-ass). So it’s quite unclear why he’s risking his sister’s life...especially with six previous unlucky brides. I find in these situations it’s best not to think on it for too long.

    Some stuff happens, and then one of our elements (I don’t really know which one,,,I think it was Lightning though) falls in love with our newly widowed bride. Another element falls for another girl in a totally pointless sub-story. Our Elements get into a fight with Jiang (he catches them spying on his new daughter-in-law in the tub) and manages to kick their asses (you know for being the four best students....these guys don’t actually ever do any ass-kicking throughout the film), establishing him as a true bad-ass also.

    Then Dragon is told that the Jiang household is famous for preserving their dead. They encase all their dead with wax. So all the dead are sort of just “hanging out” in a parlor. You know, at unrest. Then (in a very cool sequence) Dragon is introduced to the Zombie Wrangler. This guy has the power (voodoo....I guess) to control and bring back the dead. So Dragon hires him to bring back all Jiang’s dead (your basic old distraction routine) so he can get to the gold and get his sister back. That’s when all Hell breaks loose.

    The vampire king makes his presence known, and though Lighning manages to rescue Sasa, she gets bit. Our long, lost Master shows back up, and some other stuff happens. It all leads to the big showdown with known bad-asses Jiang, Dragon, the vampire king and our Master hero with the Elements thrown in there too.

    Although this movie definitely follows in the footsteps of Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, it never achieves the same grace. However, just like Golden Vampires, this movie entertains!

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Flesh Factor: None
    Cheese Factor: Blissfully High
    Best To Be Viewed: Anytime You’re In The Mood For Fun
     
  6. Brian Thibodeau

    Brian Thibodeau Supporting Actor

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    Better Tsui hark productions are sometimes the ones he actually directed. These give a much better sense of the man's incredible visual style than Vampire Hunters or Black Mask 2, both of which prominently display his name rather than those of the actual directors. I'd worry that Vampire Hunters, viewed out of context as you're not familiar with Honk Kong style, might sour you on Hong Kong movies.

    Look for TIME & TIDE or LEGEND OF ZU instead to see what Tsui Hark is really capable of. The latter's a bit weak in the story department, but the onslaught of visual technique is quite impressive. The recent movie TWINS EFFECT, which isn't available officially in North America yet but will be soon, is a big budget vampire action comedy starring popular HK pop duo Twins and Jackie Chan. The US retitle is supposedly VAMPIRE EFFECT. Lost of excellent fights and CG in this one, but you might have to stomach some sappy romantic goo that HK filmmakers can't seem to avoid.

    If you're accustomed to, and really like, movies like BLADE and JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES, it's unlikely the tone of many Hong Kong vampire movies might appeal to you unless you're a little more familiar with the culture, which usually comes after watching other types of Hong Kong pictures as well. Hong Kong horror, with the exception of recent international successes like THE EYE and INNER SENSES, really are a breed unto themselves. Some will work if you're in the right mood, but many will seem silly by comparison to their western cousins. I've long sat on the fence with them. I can now appreciate them within a cultural framework, as I now know that Chinese superstition runs in a much different vein than Western superstition, but sometimes it's hard to feel the suspense, or be shocked, when there's so much mugging going on, as if the filmmakers feel the need to deflate the "scariness" of their concepts, as if they're so inherently scary they might be too much for certain folks in the audience. Still trying to work that one out after 14 years of watching Hong Kong movies!

    That said, try PRINCESS BLADE, from Japan and now available in the US (including at Blockbuster as I recall) if you're looking for something more akin to a slick, dark vampire movie. It has it's detractors, but I thought it was at least as good as Carpenter's film, though a little less flashy than the BLADE films. WILD ZERO and VERSUS, both Japanese films as well and both available in the US are probably worth a rent as well, although they're actually zombie movies, not vampire movies. Both are absolutely crazy!

    Just some ideas...

    Cheers
     
  7. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    I rented it, made it about 30 minutes into and and turned it off. I thought it was pretty terrible.
     
  8. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    I bought it blind and really enjoyed it. HK Vampire movies tend to be rather weird....
    Check out Mr. Vampire and Vampire vs Vampire.
    Love those hopping vamps.
     

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