Vampire Hunters

(2002, 1:85, Wellson Chin)
*- Moments of interest

Tsui Hark, serving as screenwriter and producer, tries for another cross-genre hit, but the assigned director for what appears to be an attempt at a new supernatural series, Wellson Chin, is no Ching Siu-tung. Some debate the contributions of Ching Siu-tung to the “Chinese Ghost Story” series –though I consider his 1983 film, “Duel to the Death”, a major entry in the swordsman films from that period– but his careful compositions, rapturous lighting designs and dynamic cutting, evident in all his features with or without Tsui, are sorely missing.

Though Tsui embellishes a story of Taoist monks who hunt down a vampire with a plethora of horror film references–“Dawn of the Dead”, “The Evil Dead”, “Predator”, “Lifeforce”, “John Carpenter’s Vampires” and even Tsui’s own “Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain” get quoted–the mix doesn’t congeal into a new dish, but rather sits in the pot like overcooked leftovers. The main problems are Chin’s lackluster direction –his pictorial sense and pacing are barely adequate, giving the film a sluggish feel– along with the cursory and calculated participation by Tsui himself. Not a totally dispiriting experience –some images and sequences grab one’s attention and imagination –but a big disappointment from a dynamic and vital genre-revisionist.

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