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.
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.
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