Mr. Vampire is back, but how does this one stand up to other Mr. Vampires?
Ricky Lau once again teamed up with his original core of legendary vampire hunter Lam Ching-ying and his bumbling sidekicks Chin Sui-ho and Ricky Hui in the fifth collaboration in the Mr. Vampire series. The original Mr. Vampire set the standard of hopping vampire movies and helped define the genre as well as the career of Lam Ching-ying. Though the movie is somewhat middling, it is fun to see the group together again.
MR. VAMPIRE 1992 aka CHINESE VAMPIRE STORY (1992)
starring: Lam Ching-ying, Ricky Hui, Sandra Ng, Chin Siu-ho, Billy Lau
directed by: Ricky Lau
Unlike all the other Mr. Vampire sequels, this was a a true sequel to the original, canonically continuing off where the original started. This was the fifth hopping vampire movie Ricky Lau directed, so is sometimes informally called Mr. Vampire 5.
Apparently an evil spirit of an aborted fetus gets awakened and possesses a midwife to help him transfer his soul into a pregnant host (think of a hopping Rosemary’s Baby). Meanwhile, Priest Kau (Ching-ying) is hired by the local General to help appease the spirits of his father’s tomb. In the process he discovers the evil child spirit’s plan, finding out he’s targeting the general’s wife (his childhood sweetheart).
Lam Ching-ying reprises his role as the one-browed priest, though on my deplorable copy of the dvd I couldn’t tell if he had one brow or two. As always, he is the wise, stern resident expert in all things holy. He is always entertaining and lovable, and his character in this installment is no exception.
Siu-ho and Hui still hold their own as bumbling sidekicks, providing mild comic relief, while Siu-ho gets to feature some of his excellent martial arts (he truly doesn’t get the attention he deserves). Kwan-yue (Ng), aka Birdie is a pretty amusing new comic relief, adding a nice dynamic to the group.
The action is fairly light in this movie, but the finale does have some high octane hops. I think I was more disappointed there was much less ghost busting and Taoist spell casting than the usual movies, though there were moments throughout.
Should I Watch it?
Listen. It’s THE Mr. Vampire. Though Mr. Vampires aren’t always a hit, they are usually at least a little fun. This one is enjoyable, but not exceptional. There are some funny moments and a few good action scenes, but some of the scenes, especially with the General, do drag on. There are also some weird scenes like a little boy peeing on someone, which is a bit more taboo over in the West than apparently in Hong Kong. There is really only about 2 fight scenes, but the finale has some impressive stuff. If you want to watch some top notch jiangshi, here are some of my faves.
Movie Rating: (3 / 5) Kung Fu Rating: (3 / 5)