Director: Ricky Lau
Stars: Lam Ching-Ying, Chin Siu Ho, Ricky Hui, Moon Lee
A Taoist priest named Kou (Lam) is called upon by a wealthy businessman and his daughter (Lee) to re-bury a relative to bring their family good luck. Upon inspection of the grave, Kou realizes that the corpse has become a vampire and it's up to him and his two bumbling sidekicks (Hui and Chin) to stop the vampire before it infects the whole town.
As HK elements and personalities are absorbed more and more into the Western film culture, films like Mr. Vampire stand alone and truly show why people think Hong Kong movies are the most creative on Earth. Once you get away from some cultural differences, such as the religious practices and the fact that Chinese vampires are more like hopping zombies (rather than our Western notion of suave gothic characters), Mr. Vampire is a sheer delight. It's a jumbled mix of action, horror and comedy that -- unlike many HK movies -- actually uses the different genres to its' advantage. The comedic bits (brought to delightful life through Ricky Hui's performance) make the horror parts that much more scarier. The cement which holds the film together is Lam Ching-Ying. He gives a tremendous performance in a role that could have quickly went the other way. Lam never overacts and takes the role -- even when events get fairly silly -- seriously.
If I was going to draw a comparison between Mr. Vampire and a Western film, I would have to say Sam Raimi's excellent Evil Dead series. Both films took well-tread genres and made them into something their own. If you're looking for a Hong Kong film outside of the martial-arts and kung-fu realms, check out Mr. Vampire. You won't be disappointed. At least you'll find out what the hell people are talking about when they discuss "hopping vampires."
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