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The Valiant Ones (1975) Directed by: King Hu

Time to re-examine the movie now that Germany has made sure to make it lot more viewable. In King Hu's 1975 Wuxia, business is quite a bit as usual looking at the elements in his frame. A super-simple, very action-oriented story of the Chinese government assigning a group of skilled fighters to tackle the problem of Japanese pirates (whose leader is played by Sammo Hung) in the region, the scenery is expectedly grand, costumes of high standard and action takes place to the rhythm of Chinese traditional instruments. Ejecting any attempts at grander tension from Dragon Inn or depth found in A Touch Of Zen, it's Hu having playtime with his by now quotable elements. A thoroughly entertaining ride for the initiated viewer then but understandably new ones would have trouble recognizing the legendary status of the director based on his work here. Some of the stylistic highlights anyone would quote is the chess game disguised as a battlefield tactics briefing between Roy Chiao, Pai Ying and Hsu Feng plus the latter two infiltrating the base of the pirates where fellow country men are revealed to be siding with the pirates. It's a money grabbing world. The opening reel history lesson also has paintings of characters that is then followed by a few frames of film of who is portraying them in the film. A neat tool. Recognizable beats in the action are elevated to even more fluid and powerful levels via Sammo Hung's action-direction and yet another forest- and beach showdown in a King Hu movie goes down as intense highlights. Aside from mentioned King Hu-regulars, we also get appearances from Simon Yuen, Yuen Biao, Mars, Stephen Tung and Lau Kong. You can buy the German dvd under the title Die Mutigen at German Amazon.

Vampire Buster (1989) Directed by: Stanley Siu & Norman Law

Forced to ditch a vase with a demon trapped in it as Mao revolutionaries are cornering him, Cheung Sap Yat (Kent Cheng) locates it in Hong Kong years later and as luck would have it (for us viewers otherwise it would be one boring movie), the demon is let loose by incompetent Feng Shui master (who also gives bad advice on race horses) Chan (Nat Chan). Now in the mood to possess anyone that gets in its way, Cheung has to battle multiple members of Steven Kay's (Stanley Fung) family...

Compared to its many friends in the genre during this time, Vampire Buster keeps matters quite dark. Oh there's "wit" and silliness injected via the mentioned Nat Chan (who was probably a result of Wong Jing's participation in the script) and the bickering Jacky Cheung/Elsie Chan couple but surprisingly it stays ever so slightly more closer to what logically should be the true mood of the film. Little is in fact scary however but the requisite energy that Hong Kong filmmakers knew in their sleep is brought forth in a series of fairly exciting battles (mostly when Stanley Fung is possessed).

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

The Vampire Combat (2001) Directed by: Wilson Tong

A good substitute for sleeping pills for the most part but Wilson Tong deserves some minor kudos for turning The Vampire Combat into a throwback to 80s/early 90s Hong Kong horror. He even throws in a smattering of martial arts and CGI effects straight out of Blade but sadly, all these positives reside only during the opening minutes. It would've made a great short. With Andrew Lin, Ngai Sing, Tai Po, and Lo Lieh.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com

Vampire Kids (1991) Directed by: Lee Paak-Ling

A ship a bunch of strangers are on is sunken for unexplained and unseen reasons (budgetary constraints would be my guess) and they're all washed ashore on a deserted island. Now, the Hong Kong traits of this horror-comedy is immediately evident as we get our first taste of how the filmmakers chooses to utilize Amy Yip. Being unconscious and in need of CPR, where she's been lying face down in the sand, there's now a deep imprint of her breasts. All righty then. It's amidst seriousness somewhat this even though the traits of bickering between the ugly folks (Billy Lau again and of course a bit unfairly, Sandra Ng) represents the usual unfunny, loud dialogue exchanges. Oh no, this is not frustration of stranded characters. It's viewer-frustration. For at least two reels, Vampire Kids does win us over oddly enough via that desire to go as low as possible. Not all sights are expected and some are done with such a keen desire to please that it becomes infectious. Witness a scene where Billy Lau is mistaken for a pervert as he has spotted food while another character thinks he's there to molest his wife. Hey ho. Awakening The King Of Ghosts via his blood collectors in the form of the titular vampire kids, the childish silliness is soon replaced by a largely non-energetic, non-plotted time. Despite not making the genre according to the most familiar standards, this island adventure is best remembered for its unexpected insanity (the streak of mental insanity the characters go on after eating poisoned tomatoes and the appearance of a title card saying "Porno Object" during a Sandra Ng shower scene are memorable highlights) on a few occasions rather than when it tries to be energetic in the style of Mr. Vampire.

The Vampire Partner (1988) Directed by: Chan Lau

Rival triad bosses (Wong Ching and Tai Bo) kill each other and accompany one another to hell. There they witness their potential punishment for thousands of years so they decide to flee. Managing to get away from the Hell Judge and back to earth as vampires, their souls have actually entered the wrong bodies so they get to experience their respective rival's homelife. Ultimately the duo pair up as friends while seeking blood but also to do good on earth before being caught by the Judge again...

A drab and shabby looking piece of triad exploitation movie initially (we see various people offer their women to the triad bosses), the break into horror-comedy territory holds water for a little while. Thanks mostly to a decent dual act in Wong Ching and Tai Bo and director Chan Lau gives a creative look at hell on a budget. Graphically it scores more than anything else as we see the dead being tortured but the movie has the right, fun energy for this scenario. Back on earth we get little else than various skits as the duo evades ghost hunters, manipulate the environment and make sure a brother (Siu Yuk-Lung) finds love but momentum isn't particularly evident for large parts of The Vampire Partner. Also with Chung Faat, Lau Siu-Ming, To Siu-Ming and Dai Sai-An.

Vampire Raiders: Ninja Queen (1988) Directed by: Bruce Lambert

TROY'S REVIEW: Well, here's something you don't see every day! This utterly unhinged cut & paste entry boasts a barmy combination of evil ninja hoteliers, cross eyed hopping vampires, a pair of murderous navel zombies, a sex kitten lady ninja with a very welcome propensity for sunbathing and oiling herself down (all filmed in gloriously exploitative close up shots!), some eaves dropping switchboard receptionists, a male virgin utilizing a bucket of piss in zombie combat and finally and best of all, an old man crushed to death by the carcass of a pig hurled over the top of a building! You'll really have to pinch yourself just to make sure that you're not dreaming whilst watching this insanely inept (but oh so much fun) effort!

Vampire Settle On Police-Camp (1990) Directed by: Chen Chi-Hwa

Running a surprisingly lean 72 minutes, if you know your Hong Kong movies you know they could stretch even the most mundane and crass to well over 90 so this dvd version of the film is most certainly cut. But despite, is Vampire Settle On Police-Camp going to feel like an exercise in how to make the combo of ghost-busting, sex jokes, mugging and kung-fu clinch your goals of providing genre-energy? It certainly seems that way as the movie launches us strapped onto a rocket with Eddy Ko into intense battling with the ghost family. Moving from one small set piece to another, the energy provided is enough to make Jeff Lau at this time feel challenged. Then the house crumbles and the 72 minutes starts to feel like 720. Enter the cadets born in the year of the dragon and about to be trained to battle this ghost family. With Charlie Cho and Billy Lau being amongst them, you can bet your ass they are going to live up to their perverted, grating screen images. Throw in some busty females, all too short kung-fu, cheap digs at Jackie Chan (the director made Snake And Crane Arts Of Shaolin with Chan once upon a time) and you get a movie that is essentially a slightly louder version of bottom of the barrel stuff like Here Comes A Vampire. Was it Jeff Lau that set the wacky, high standard for these things via his Haunted Cop Shop movies? Maybe but there you have efforts clinching a whole lot of goals more efficiently... even when Billy Lau is part of the equation. Co-starring Wu Fung and Sandra Ng.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Vampire Vs Vampire (1989) Directed by: Lam Ching Ying

For his directorial debut, Lam Ching Ying again reprised a role he had already shown great love for, as the ever so wise Taoist priest. A role he became synonymous with after Mr. Vampire. Vampire Vs Vampire is not officially part of that series of films but might as well have been because of certain familiar elements and the entertaining quality it possesses. Introducing a Western vampire into the frey this time around makes for 83 minutes of nostalgic and sad viewing as the late Lam Ching Ying never fails to remind you how great his screen presence was. Combining his authority as the Taoist priest but not knowing much else sets the stage for various superb comedic reactions from Lam and creative choreography by Stephen Tung Wai & Lee Chi Git rounds off a very solid genre entry. Chin Siu Ho and Billy Lau basically reprises their roles in addition to Maria Cordero and Sandra Ng joining the the cast.

...and the vampire kid is absolutely adorable!

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Vampire's Breakfast (1986) Directed by: Wong Chung

Director Wong Chung (former Shaw Brother's actor in movies such as Killer Clans and later turned director) handles Kent Cheng's reporter Piao's battles with a vampire and the police in a fairly refreshingly balanced way (basically choosing to rarely let the elements of comedy, crude social commentary and horror interfere with each other). It's also easier therefore to differentiate it from other similar genre excursions of the era and expectedly, Wong scores more points when dealing with the horror that includes melting corpses, gory decapitations (ok...one), enveiled in a professional frame co-lensed by Arthur Wong. The romance angle between the unlikely pair of Kent Cheng and Emily Chu is rough though as there needs to be more substance for it to work but occasionally the stars share some chemistry and it's certainly not the make or break element of this entertaining film. Co-starring Parkman Wong and Wu Ma.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

Vengeance (1970) Directed by Chang Cheh

Director Chang Cheh paints the screen red with rather fake looking blood in the very violent Vengeance. Hong Kong cinema certainly has explored this theme many times, primarily on basic levels in the martial arts genre. This movie, set in the 1920s, doesn't go for depth like the recent Korean masterpiece Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance but stands out because it isn't close to being highly generic either.

Despite that, Chang & prolific screenwriter Ngai Fong, to me, doesn't entirely convey the necessary weight of the Ti Lung & David Chiang brother relationship. To warrant Chiang to take vengeance in such a brutal way, you have to feel that there was a really special bond between him and his brother. That I didn't feel anyway. Seeing as the film has a strong, quiet and suave leading performance by David Chiang, the flaws aren't as severe as they could've been. Chang Cheh keeps the movie going at a good pace and amidst all the, almost too extensive, bloodshed, moments of eerie slow motion usage becomes perhaps the definite highlight of his work on this film. Vengeance is not another classic collaboration between the stars and director but gradually, their efforts would result in classics like The Blood Brothers though so fans will certainly want to experience it from the early stages.

Buy the DVD at:
HK Flix.com
Yesasia.com

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