Hopping Vampires in Hong Kong
One of my favourite monsters in Asian horror is the Chinese vampire. It’s a very different kind of creature of the night which in truth, has more in common with the Western idea of a zombie. If a person dies and isn’t buried using the correct rituals, they will rise from the dead as a vampire, hopping their way across the land in search of victims. In all honesty the hopping is what I like the best. Most of the movies with Chinese vampires are just kung-fu films with elements of horror. The greatest of the bunch are Mr. Vampire, Spooky Encounters and Exorcist Master, though after watching Juno Mak’s directorial debut Rigor Mortis I might have to add one more to the list.
Chin Siu-Ho (Mr. Vampire, Fist of Legend) moves into an old apartment building where supernatural events have affected most of the tenants. After a failed suicide attempt opens Chin up to the spirit world, ex-vampire hunter Lau helps him by exorcising the two evil twin sisters that haunt his apartment. When a botched resurrection turns a tenant into a bloodsucking hopper, Chin and Lau work together to defeat it and dispel all the evils in the building once and for all.
This is the first serious take on the Chinese vampire myth I’ve ever seen. It was dark, atmospheric and genuinely creepy. Most of the cast is made up of character actors known for the Mr. Vampire series, with Chin pretty much playing himself (other than the whole washed-up actor bit). It’s a visually stunning film that still took the time to make sure the gory moments were as brutal as can be. A few even made me gasp, which either means I’m becoming timid in my old age, or they were just extremely well done. The choreography during the few fight sequences could compare to any of the classics I mentioned above. There was a bit of overuse of CGI throughout, but this was easily forgivable stacking up next to everything else this film has to offer.
By far one of the better Asian horror films to come out of the past few years. Highly recommended.
Availability: Netflix US, Netflix Canada