You are currently displaying English
殭屍先生 (1985)
Mr. Vampire

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 02/14/2009

Master Ko is a Taoist priest with a busy practice getting the dead resituated so they won’t hang around and make problems for the living. He has all the tools of his trade at his disposal and is adept with each of them; he has a fine mortuary with plenty of room for coffins and extra space for overnight storage of hopping ghosts on their way to the appropriate reburial ground; he is clearly a professional whose word can be trusted, who works hard for his clients and who could be the head of the local chamber of commerce. It is a demanding trade with immediate and dire consequences for the clumsy and incompetent. A poorly mixed compound, badly printed prayer or even allowing a candle to flicker can mean the hopping undead are released. In most cases this would lead to a loss of business and face. Occasionally, as “Mr. Vampire” makes clear, it might mean unleashing an inhumanly powerful and all but indestructible partially re-animated corpse to prey on the living.

While precision is important in the Taoist priest business so, apparently, is giving jobs to relatives and the relatives of friends which is how Master Ko winds up with two unqualified assistants. Almost everything that goes wrong is due to the stupidity, lasciviousness or general oafishness of his two helpers but he is so forbearing that he continues to trust them with vital tasks which they continue to get wrong. In many belief systems the use of sacred or consecrated words, artifacts or ceremonies is a very grievous offense, so it isn’t surprising when Man and Chun misuse the power of the Taoist prayer written with gold ink on yellow paper in order to disrupt the courtship of the gorgeous Ting Ting by the loutish police chief. It is also one of the funniest scenes in a very funny movie with Man, having wrapped a hair plucked from the head of the cop in the prayer, swallows it forcing the cop to perform every move that Man does including slapping himself, ripping his clothes off and chasing Ting Ting.

One reason that “Mr. Vampire” works so well is the casting, perfect in (at least) two of the roles. Lam Ching-Ying could not have been better as the one-browed master. Charismatic, athletic, with excellent comic timing and a great deadpan look, he might have been born to play Master Ko—which, after a few years of sequels he may have thought himself. Pauline Wong was ideal as Jade the ghost who wanted to get married and who targeted Chun as her husband. Jade is more than a being with supernatural powers. She has an evil but extremely attractive force, like the Sirens who lure men to their death with their songs, one who could both seduce with earthly beauty and compel with magic. Pauline Wong, alluringly sexy and as perfect as a cosmetics ad, was convincing as an irresistible woman.

With isolated but wonderfully executed action scenes, including a number of two story falls, detailed set design and more than adequate cinematography, “Mr. Vampire” is highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Masterofoneinchpunch
Date: 11/06/2008
Summary: Sticky Rice will expel the vampire toxins.

The most important film in the kyonsi (jiangshi) subgenre (hopping vampires who can suck blood through their long fingernails) of Hong Kong movies is Mr. Vampire produced by Sammo Hung's Bo Ho Films Company which would help bring out another important Hong Kong horror/comedy in “Spooky Encounters”. This comedic/horror is a mixture of Cantonese comedy, Taoist priests, sticky rice, chicken blood and a dash of kung fu that has become a perennial viewing of mine during the Halloween season. Its success did not go unnoticed and spawned many sequels and imitators many directed by the same director as this movie Ricky Lau Koon-Wai and starring mono eye-browed Taoist priest (fat-si) Lam Ching Ying. It also had local critical success and would be nominated for several Hong Kong awards including Best Picture (which Police Story would win), Best Director, two best supporting actors (Lam Ching Ying and Ricky Hui). It would win for Best Original Film Score.

It is said that when someone dies in anger a breath is caught in the throat. Nothing can exasperate this more than burying the body in an area with bad Feng Shui. Mr. Yam (Huang Ha: Spooky Encounters) has been having inauspicious luck since the burial of his father and has hired Master Ko (Lam Ching Ying: Prodigal Son) to help move the body to sacred ground. Every great master must have bumbling protégés and Ko has two in Man Chor (Ricky Hui: Plain Jane to the Rescue) and Chow Chun (Chin Siu-Ho: The Tai-Chi Mater). Hui (brother to Sam and Michael Hui who are also famous HK comedians) plays his role quite well and is adroit with his comedic timing (watch him in the background in many scenes; always busy) while Chin is more of a face in this movie (though he has an extensive martial arts background). Guess who gets the romantic role in this movie?

Part of the problem of having blundering help mixed with caring for the undead is the possibility (probability) of letting a ravenous choleric blood-sucking corpse loose on the populous. Because of an improperly sealed casket, Grandpa Yam (Yuen Wah: Eastern Condors) escaped from his coffin and killed his son unbeknownst to inept police officer Wai (Billy Lau Nam-Kwong) who believes Master Ko is responsible and arrests him. However, younger Yam's corpse is slowly turning into a wandering cadaver (like father, like son) whose body is set in viewing distance of the jailed Ko. Later, Man Chor gets injured by the springy corpse's vampire-like nails while protecting Yam's daughter Ting Ting (Moon Lee Choi-Fung) and similar to the effects of European vampires bite wounds he will slowly turn into one unless prevented somehow. Meanwhile, Chow Chun is having problems of his own with a beautiful ghost named Jade (Pauline Wong) who has tricked him into falling in love with her. Some of this story does remind me of Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu (the house of the spirit and the way Ko helps repel Jade by the characters drawn on Chow Chun), but there are many Chinese stories that have used these elements before Ugetsu.

If I was to nitpick about the deficiencies of this movie I would state the abrupt ending as the biggest one -- a bane of many Hong Kong films. Also, the chicken violence, which is real, might offend some (Harry Angel would like it) as well as the removal of a gallbladder from a snake – which is also real (though after watching Shaw Brothers release Killer Snakes I have become numb to small amounts of slithering serpent violence). I know some might not like the broad humor associated with Cantonese comedy, but I have come to appreciate much of it.

However, there is much to appreciate from the dancing and comedic aspects of Ricky Hui to the effective use of Kung Fu and stunts. The secondary plot of the ghost love story also worked well for me. The introduction of the female ghost brought into the story was one of the most beautiful shots in the film marred only by an annoying sound effect. And like a good comedy should it finished off with a laugh. During this scene and the end credits there is a wonderful song used named Gwai San Neung "Ghost Bride" performed by the Kit Yi Chorus. The main strength of this film is that it sticks well to its premise of a comedy and does unnecessarily mix dramatic elements.

There should not be a discussion about this film without mentioning the austere pillar performance of Lam Ching Ying. This performance is analogous to Vincent Price in which a career defining House of Wax (1953) set forth a years of horror for Vincent Price. Both actors had years of experience in various genres before their "breakout" horror roles, both had excellent roles before (Prodigal Son for Lam and Baron of Arizona for Price) and would later have lucrative but strongly typecast roles offered to them afterwards. Lam's rendition of this Taoist priest is so perfect in its entirety (his athletic skills certainly help) that he has become a cult icon in certain circles. Like all good Taoists, he knows the value of sticky rice and its many ubiquitous powers of healing.

Along with Spooky Encounters this is a must watch movie from the Hong Kong comedy/horror oeuvre and perfect for introducing kyonsi to your friends -- as long as they do not like chickens (or snakes) and you have friends of course.

The Fox/Fortune Star R1 release of Mr. Vampire is a good basic release. There are no dubtitles and the film is uncut. There is an English dub, a genuine Cantonese mono track and it is presented in a nice looking widescreen transfer. Unfortunately, like most of the Fox/Fortune Star releases you only get trailers as extras. Here is another example where the best release is the R2 Hong Kong Legends version (like so many of the Hong Kong martial art films on the Fox/Fortune releases). Though the Fox/Fortune Star R1 and Fortune Star R0 releases are the only ones I know of with the original mono (big plus for me).

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 01/28/2007
Summary: Not a classic, but ...

More a tongue-in-cheek action/comedy about hopping corpses than a true horror flick.

Lam Ching Ying is Uncle Nine, by far his best-known role - the Taoist "One Eyebrow" (there's no gap between them) priest. Lumbered with his two bumbling and daft assistants (boyishly handsome Chin Siu-Ho, and Ricky Hui), Nine goes about his business of settling and re-settling recently deal and restless souls, else they become hopping vampires who'll endanger the community.

And what a job! Nine is surrounded by incompetents - not only his two disciples, but also the police chief (loudmouthed, thick-headed and lecherous) who chucks him in jail at the time when he's most needed (i.e. the first vampire has killed a man, who also becomes one). The scene where Nine and Chin try to subdue the 2nd vamp before he kills them and the police chief is a scream.

Much of this film could have been sub-headed "Carry On Vampires", as it uses a similar knockabout/low comedy style. Later, Ricky is entranced by a lady ghost (a young and sexy Pauline Wong), and is tricked by her into fighting off Nine. In this scene,

Lam Ching Ying does one of my all-time favourite super-quick kung-fu moves : a flipping leg-clamp to the neck which brings his target flat to the floor. Unreal. The standard of the stunt work is simply excellent, particularly from Lam & Chin, and of course from Mr tall-dark-and-intimidating himself, the great Yuen Wah, as the main vampire. Oddly, action-star Moon Lee does nothing but decorate the set and look frightened as the standoffish and pretty Ting.

In summary :
Not really the classic that it's cracked up to be, but still pretty damn good, and still a must-see for any HK film fan.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 06/08/2006
Summary: Who ya gonna call? Lam Ching-Ying!

Totally gonzo but very likeable Hong Kong horror/comedy.

Forget everything you thought you knew about vampires if you’re new to the genre. These are not stake-dodging, sun-fearing bloodsuckers we’re talking about here. The east’s version of vampires are more akin to what we westerners describe as “zombies”; although George Romero’s finest didn’t go hopping about in Manchu garb from what I remember.

Incidentally, the reason why Chinese temples have high thresholds at their entrances, which you step over, is to stop beings like this from entering. Strange but apparently true. Well, it’s no more unusual than some of the superstitions practiced by westerners.

Another fundamental difference is that these vampires detect humans by their living breath (having no eyes with which to see anymore). Cue lots of breath holding, and the inevitable tension of our heroes standing still trying not to let a single puff of air out. There’s also some aversion to sticky rice (or was it non-sticky rice?) and if you want to fend these creatures off, you’d better get the right kind or you’re history. Beware of unscrupulous market-stall rice sellers who will trick you with a mixture of both!

Anyway, back to the film. I found this works best on repeat viewings (and after several adult beverages). A lot of people have said to me that they didn’t like it on first viewing but came to like it - and I must agree: I felt let down on first viewing but think it’s a classic now.

I admit I find none of it scary, but the film works well as a comedy. The scene where Ricky Hui tries to delay becoming a vampire had me in stitches! Lam Ching-Ying is of course excellent in the role that would see him typecast for the rest of his tragically short life, and Moon Lee is as bloody gorgeous as ever. What more could you ask for?

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: hoppingghost
Date: 04/20/2005
Summary: The Eternal Sifu Lam Ching-Ying At his finest

The eternal Sifu Lam Ching-Ying starts the series going with this fine film. Mr. Vampire is the first in a series of Vampire buster films that Lam Ching Ying did over his career. I suggest you purchase this dvd and then you will be hooked and start searching out and purchasing the next installments in the Mr. Vampire saga there are many BUT Mr. Vampire is the first. The dvd offers great subtitles that are very clear and this film is also available on VHS english dubbed (This adds more to the humor element) for English speaking viewers. Mr. Vampire is the prime example of amazing HK horror / comedy films. The eternal sifu battles Hopping Vampires as well as an alluring female ghost that tries to seduce one of his students of the arts. What else could you ask for having the Sifu fight hopping vampires and angry spirits, this film also has a flying head sequence that is hilarious yet may spook the younger kids. I recommend you purchase this dvd or VHS and start you Kung Fu Taoist Vampire film collection now. The best example of Horror/Comedy HK Style.

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/10/2005
Summary: Good Storyline, Plenty of Laughs and Well Worth the Time!!!

Directed by Ricky Lau, the film begins with veteran Taoist Priest ‘Kau’ (Lam Ching-ying from ‘Encounters of the Spooky Kind’ fame) and his two totally lost assistants, ‘Chou’ (Chin Siu-ho from ‘Fist of Legend’ and ‘Tai Chi Master’) and ‘Man Choi’ (Ricky Hui Koon-ying), setting out to fix the Yam family’s recent streak of bad fortune. The priest soon uncovers that a vengeful feng shui master had tricked the family into burying its elder in a manner that would bring them bad luck for them. Before the problem has been corrected, the grandfather has transformed into a vampire and comes bursting out of the ground only to kill his son. When the son returns from the beyond to reek havoc on the living, Taoist priest Kau eventually manages to put him to rest for good, only for the grandfather to reappear and continue with his quest of terrorizing his grand-daughter, named ‘Jade’ (Pauline Wong) admired by Man Choi and her cousin, the head of the local police. Meanwhile, Chou has been seduced by a beautiful spirit (Moon Lee) he awoke in the graveyard and will be doomed to death if he continues his love affair with her. Whilst that, Man Choi is slowly turning into a vampire himself unless Taoist Priest Kau comes to his rescue.

This movie features horror with some doses of mild romance, supernatural martial arts, lots of black-comedy and adventures whilst being centred mainly on supernatural phenomenon. The setting is a bustling historical town and although the movie’s budget is not over-the-top it never ends up giving a low-budget feel to the settings or environments. Furthermore, the playful acting is top-notch with the assistants and Taoist Priest always keeping the audiences entertained and interested in the various antics pulled by them (including the Taoist Priest). There are no twists but the plot and subplots interweave in the movie to create a detailed and original storyline. The movie is not very serious and no tear-jerker but focuses on the comedy side as can be expected from the ‘Mr Vampire’ series. The length and pace of the movie are also well set and the character development is not a major issue in this movie which revolves around silly childish fun.

Overall, this movie has a bit of everything and focuses on entertainment value rather than being based on a single genre and it achieves this to very good effect. This movie obviously starred some fairly young and new actors in movie industry at its time that was headed by veteran Lam Ching-Ying, for his supremacy and limitless experience in this class of movies. It does not disappoint and delivers on all levels without being taken seriously. This movie sparked off a whole ‘Mr Vampire’ series and numerous side movies based on the concept including ‘Vampire vs. Vampire’, ‘The Musical Vampire’ and ‘Crazy Safari’ amongst many others

Overall Rating: 8.0/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: irons
Date: 11/07/2004
Summary: Superb!

I had heard good things about this film, and I heard right! A mix of horror, comedy and martial arts. The comedy here works very well, even for western audiences. Most Hong Kong comedy doesn't translate too well, Jackie Chans corny face pulling springs to mind. But there's no problems here, it's brilliantly done. There's not that much kung fu action but it's well choreographed and good to watch.
And how can anyone resist seeing those hopping vampires, good stuff.

Reviewed by: RiceBowl
Date: 08/12/2003
Summary: C L A S S I C

Lam Ching Ying is probably most recognized for this continued hit. Ching Ying plays Kou who reminds me of Eddy Ko Hung playng Fok Yuen Gap in the Fist of Fury ATV series .In the film he plays a ghost buster who watches the deceased that could be possibly a vampire. He owns a vampire controlling funeral home. His assistance are Man Choi (played by Ricky Hui Koon-Ying which should not be confused with this films director Ricky Lau Koon Wai) and Chou (played by Chin Siu Ho). Kou was asked by Master Yam a.k.a Ting Ting's father (played by Huang Ha) to rebury his Grandpa. When they went to the memorial of Grandpa Yam, (played by Yuen Wah) Kou noticed Grandpa Yam's body hasnt decomposed in 20 years. Grandpa Yam's body was then taken to Kou lace to be watched over and to perform scaring away ghost rituals. Among watching the body was Kou assistance. Kou assitance opened the cffin to release that Grandpa Yam turned into a vampire. They then sealed the coffin shut. Thats all im willing to tell you. I would tell more but you would enjoy more when you find out these things for your self. As for the fighting, you should expect oree chinese horro comedies. The action is high standard and I was surprised with the special effects, I liked the flying head, which was very innovative.

School Grade 90% good enough to buy.

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/03/2003

In the final portion of Lam Ching-ying's (M) extensive career vampire combat became the late actor's namesake starting with the seminal "Mr. Vampire" which seemlessly branchs comedy, horror, and martial arts. In Cantonese vampires translate to "stiff corpses" and bounce on two feet with their arms extended in front of them lusting not for blood but human breathe (they're also blind). Potentional victims cup their mouths -- occasionally for extended periods of time -- to avoid detection. Taoists, armed with potions, scriptures, and other assorted dogmatic practices are seemingly the only humans that can stop them.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/26/2002

This movie is very boring. The first 30 minutes or so were one star material, but it got better as time passed. By the end, it's actually pretty exciting. Still, it's nowhere near as good as I expected. There isn't a heck a lot of adventure or action, so this probably isn't the best vampire movie out there. The WA DVD is absolutely awesome, with a perfect picture and echoed by great Mandarin audio.


Reviewed by: DrunkenMonkey
Date: 12/12/2001
Summary: The No-Can-Miss Bunny Vampire Classic

Guess who's coming to town? No, not Mr. Kringle. It's Mr. Vampire! This film, unoforgettable among fans of horror, classic campy thrillers and Hong Kong cinema, has Lam Ching-Ying in his star-making role as a master who must stop one apprentice from falling in love with a ghost and the other from becoming a vampire, all the while terrorized by hopping vampires. No one can miss this. Very funny, the perfect Christmas or birthday gift for a horror (or Hong Kong cinema) fan! This film actually was nominated for "Best Picture", by the way...

Reviewed by: mehaul
Date: 07/24/2001

Campy horror movie (alot more camp than horror.) This vampire stabs you with his nails, so i haven't figured out why he needs fangs or his motivation for killing since he doesn't drink the blood. Action is choreographed well.
The movie is dated more than would be expected from a movie from 1985, but is still enjoyable.

Reviewed by: RLM
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Wacky Fun

Stars my favorite actor, Lam Ying. Story is about a priest and his assistants who are called upon by villagers to properly bury the dead. A mistake happens and all hell breaks loose. Hopping vampires, martial arts, evil spirt posession, and humor galore makes this film a must see. 10/10

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/05/2001
Summary: Excellent

One of the best horror/comedy/action movies you will see!! A great entertaining movie which only hk movies can do!! A must see!!


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

A vampire-busting Taoist priest played by Lam Ching Ying discovers that his own apprentice has become a hopping vampire! A horror, comedy classic that spawned a series of "vampire" flicks.

[Reviewed by Tai Seng Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

According to the predictions of a geomancer, the time hascome to re-bury the father of a rich merchant. A local priest of Chinese black magic is called in to officiate. When the priest sees that the 20 year-old corpse has not decomposed, he knows there's going to be trouble. That night, while in the mortuary awaiting reburial, the corpse rises from the coffin to claim its first victim -- its own son. Cosmic chaos complicated by supernatural love affairs, terrestrial jealousies and ghostly struggles for hearts, minds -- and bodies! You could die laughing...You could do worse.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

The quintessential "hopping vampire" movie, a must-see for anyone interested in Hong Kong cinema. The plot revolves around an undertaker and his assistants, who are called in to deal with a corpse that is in danger of turning into a "vampire" - it was buried with a bad feng-shui. Economically and concisely directed by Ricky Lau, it far outshines the spate of imitations it inspired.

[Reviewed by Iain Sinclair]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

Vampire-buster Kao has two assistants: one haunted by a beautiful ghost (Moon Lee), and the other rotting away from a vampire bite. And now an especially vicious vampire, recently aroused, is starting to kill people. Oh, yeah, there's also silly special FX, hopping vampires, and an ape.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7