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L (1992)
The Musical Vampire

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 03/27/2002
Summary: Cannot disagree with Danton's assessment

It was previously considered that the formula Lam Ching Ying + Vampires was a foolproof formula for movie success. And you'd think that taking Wilson Tong as director and sprinkling in a little bit of Loletta Lee and Hung Yan Yan could only improve things... but Musical Vampire proves us all wrong. Fundamentally this is because of 3 or 4 basic mistakes:

1. Lam Ching Ying is only in the movie for about 15 minutes (these being by far the best 15 minutes, incidentally). Samuel Fung is a very nice chap, I'm sure, but simply doesn't have the degree of awesomeness that Lam Ching Ying has.

2. The hero is some annoying dipstick of a man, who is quite devoid of charisma. Scenes that are meant to be amusing are instead annoying. The very young looking and not-bald Hung Yan Yan should have had much more screen time (HYY does kick ass when he gets the chance too)

3. The biggest, most fatal one... they utterly betrayed the whole gyonsi concept by trying to give the vampire a personality! The vampire becomes a menace after his corpse is stolen, and some mad gweilo scientist decides to inject stimulants into its brain for 'research'. Minutes later, the corpse has sprouted pointy canines and is tearing out the throat of the scientist and all around.

Now we know that the scientist's meddling has made this gyonsi somewhat different to the usual - sucking blood and being completely immune to the usual Taoist techniques for instance. But did they really have to make him run around waving his arms at people and snarling like a mad dog? It totally destroys the gravitas, the sense of the mysterious and alien undead that the gyonsi usually manage to carry (even whilst hopping in comedy fashion). Add to this the fact that he has far too many facial expressions and likes to sniff people, and you're looking at something more like an animal than a fiend from the grave...

...and then it speaks.

4. The vampire speaks. What were they thinking? It doesn't speak in grave tones of doom like Christopher Lee, but in some kind of feral whining language that only Lam Ching Ying can understand. I swear they mixed up the concept of 'vampire' and 'dog'. So sad, so sad, so sad

The only worthwhile bits are when Lam Ching Ying turns up as the bad-assed Taoist vampire buster we know and love, only to discover that this particular vampire is immune to everything he throws at it. Only the sound of music pacifies him. To be honest, I forget how they finally vanquish him in the end... I think I may have already fallen asleep by the time it happened.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: danton
Date: 03/27/2002

One of the weaker entries in the Hopping Vampire genre. Despite having top billing, Lam Ching Ying is bearely in the movie. The story is a rather pedestrian hodgepodge of the usual elements and characters (taoist sifu with two bumbling assistants who vie for the attention of the female heroine), and it's put together in a pretty uninspired manner. Not even the action choreography (usually the highlight of these films) is that impressive. As for the somewhat misleading title - no musical-style song and dance numbers here (although that would have been something: I'm picturing a chorus line of Hopping Corpses in my head right now...). Instead, the title refers to the fact that the vampire villain is attracted to the heroine's pocket watch, because it plays the melody to London Bridge is Falling Down. The only good thing in the film is the presence of Loletta Lee.

Recommended only to Loletta Lee completists or to someone who just has to watch every single HK vampire movie ever made. Everyone else should ignore this one and watch some of the better entries into the genre instead.