Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pop stars make cute vampire slayers

The Vampire Effect (2003)
Starring: Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Ekin Cheng, Edison Chen, Anthony Wong and Jackie Chan
Director: Dante Lam
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

"The Vampire Effect" is a light-hearted Chinese film about fearless kung-fu fighting vampire slayers who are called upon to stop an evil vampire lord from gaining the collective powers of all vampires and ushering in a new era of darkness and evil on Earth.

The film is populated by likable (if goofy) characters, and features great fight- and wire-fu scenes, and is genuinely funny on many occasions. There is a romantic subplot where the teenaged sister of the chief vampire hunter falls in love with the slacker son of the Chinese vampire king that is a bit too sappy (and too close to what a genuine teenage love affair is like--contentless phone conversations and lame dates--but the rest of the film more than makes up for it. Jackie Chan is featured in a small part, but his performance is funny and actually revolves around an important plot point.

I might have given this film Eight Stars--it is funny and it kept me entertained from beginning to end--but the lack of a wrap-up at the end cost it a point. In the same way the first kung-fu vampire movie just sort of ended when the action was over ("Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires" starring Peter Cushing, review coming soon), "The Vampire Effect" likewise starts rolling credits almost immediately after the spectacular final fight is over. I was left wanting a bit more of a wrap-up for the Jackie Chan character. He had been drawn into what is implied to be a secret international war against the vampires, and yet the character is just dropped. It was the one sour note that was struck during this otherwise entertaining film.

One comment totally unrelated to this film: About a year after seeing it, I learned that it was made as a vehicle for Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, who were big pop stars in China at the time it was made. Oh, if only American girl pop-singers could be put in vehicles one-tenth as good as "The Vampire Effect."

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