The Musical Vampire


Ever since I heard of this title, I was looking forward to an all singing, all dancing and all hopping musical extravaganza with Lam Ching Ying performing a nifty soft shoe routine and belting out a few syncopated chants and tunes. Sort of a Busby Berkeley styled “Vampires on Parade”. Loletta Lee takes on the sweet girl next door role usually reserved for Ruby Keeler, Lee Kar-sing substitutes for Dick Powell as the juvenile male lead, Stanley Fung appears as the kindly bumbling Guy Kibbee type uncle and of course there has to be a villain. With Xiong Xinxin in the cast, that seemed a natural. Sadly, it was not to be.
Lee Kar-sing, Xiong Xinxin, Stanley Fung and Loletta Lee
No dancing, no singing – but there was plenty of hopping going on – not exactly hopping around the clock – but hoping nevertheless – and many – and I mean many - whistling renditions of London Bridge is Falling Down. Maggie Cheung whistling it in Heroic Trio is one thing – Stanley Fung, Lee Kar-sing and Xiong Xinxin singing it is another. I have to say that on many levels this film was a real disappointment – and it dragged by at times like a corpse struggling out of its grave.
Loletta, Lee and Lam Ching Ying
Generally, anytime you mix hopping vampires and Lam Ching Ying you have an entertaining film on your hands. And every time Lam is in the film it does in fact become a lot of fun – but that is all too rarely. Much of the burden of the film falls on the shoulders of Lee Kar-sing and a very young Xiong Xinxin. Not only does Xiong have a full crop of hair, but he also plays a good guy (and is only able to give a small hint of his incredible martial art's talent here). That’s no fun. He and Lee are both disciples of Taoist priest Stanley Fung who makes his living transporting corpses to their burial destination. “Transporting” meaning animating them and walking them there. This is based on a real Chinese myth – walking the dead home.
Usually this appears to be an easy job – keeping the yellow talisman over their face and gently prodding them along. Unfortunately, Tai Bo steals one – turns it over to a Gweilo scientist who then pumps blood into it as an experiment. This creates a super powerful vampire who promptly kills the Gweilo and others in the vicinity. The vampire is the grandfather of Loletta Lee – and she, Stanley and his two students try and capture it. The only thing that can stop it from killing is his old musical watch in Loletta’s possession - that plays the dreaded London Bridge is Falling Down.
It is up to Lam Ching Ying to tackle the vampire – but even he is stymied by this powerful vampire that is not deterred by spells, arrows or restraints – only music. Lam basically has only two major scenes in the film – both are terrific – but the rest of the film is a bit of a thud. Charlie Cho also pops in as the sleazy Captain of police.

My rating for this film: 5.5