REVIEW SUMMARY: A fun action-comedy. With martial-arts-fighting vampires!
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The adventures of martial-arts vampire killers.
PROS: Lots of fun; cool stunts; light-hearted mix of martial arts and vampires.
CONS: Artistically, the film has few redeeming qualities.
BOTTOM LINE: A fun flick that offers an entertaining mix of martial arts, vampires, action and comedy.
I stumbled across an interesting movie on cable this week. It was originally released in 2003 in Hong king as The Twins Effect and was re-titled The Vampire Effect for the US release. It combines martial arts and vampires (a close second to time-traveling Nazi zombies), so I figured What the Heck?
The story involves young Prince Kazaf (Ekin Cheng), the last of the royal line of Vampires. Prince Kazaf is a “good” vampire who only drinks imported bottled blood (no killing). Reeve meets and is smitten by Helen (Charlene Choi) who just broke up with her cheating boyfriend. Helen’s brother, Reeve (Ekin Cheng), is a member of the League of Vampire Hunters. Reeve is coping with his new partner, Gypsy (Gillian Chung), who initially doesn’t get along with Helen. Meanwhile, evil vampire Duke Dekotes, having killed all the royal princes except Prince Kazaf, seeks to complete his task so that he may gain the ultimate power granted by an ancient book (or some such).
First the bad. If you’re looking for some artsy, cinematic, ground-breaking feature film showcasing great acting, dialogue and plot – look elsewhere. This movie was made to be fun, not picked apart by budding film students and tight-ass critics (note the hyphen placement). Some of the dialogue of the dubbed version I saw was awkward, as was the acting. There were several supposed-to-funny moments that just fell flat. And sometimes an action scene broke out for no apparent reason other than to showcase the cameo by Jackie Chan. The pacing was a bit off in places, too. Between the cool action sequences was the side story about the budding romance between Kazaf and Helen, including a weeding-crashing scene that didn’t seem to add much to the movie.
But it didn’t matter too much in the end because this movie was lots of fun! Yes, it was campy; that’s where some of the humor failed to work. Most times, though, the movie was a hoot. (“We’re vampires and we’re buying a church. You’ve got to admit, it’s a bit offbeat.”) The fight scenes were very well done as were the special effects, although sometimes the wire work was a bit too apparent. There was one Matrix-like fight between the Helen and Gypsy that was also pretty cool despite the fact that it started over a big teddy bear. The back story about the League of Vampire Hunters, while neat, was only briefly mentioned and I wanted more of that. I liked the way that the hunters could gain vampire-like strength by drinking vampire-extract but then had to drink the antidote before turning into a vampire themselves. The final confrontation between the evil western vampire and the twins (who are apparently a sensation in Hong Kong) was nice as well. The ending is a nice launch point for a sequel or three.
Overall, a fun flick that offers an entertaining mix of martial arts, vampires, action and comedy.