Chivalric Tornado (1989)

Directed by: Wang Chih-Cheng
Written by: ?
Producer: Gam Cheung-Leung
Starring: Jack Lung, Ti Yu-Neung, Chan Chi-Lung, Kam Kin-Yau, Man Chin-Ping & Mark Lung

With the success of Hello Dracula (particularly in Japan), hopping vampire movies with special effects aimed at children were a commercial focus and for Chivalric Tornado (can't confirm this is an official English title. It's also known as 'Vampire Strikes Back', 'Labyrinth Of Death' and 'Chess Boxing Matrix', capitalizing on the casting of Jack and Mark Lung) the director of Hello Dracula 2 takes reigns. There's APPARENT energy here but with a lack of technical definition compared to prior genre-entries, this is one you'd want to pursue not as a last resort but later on.

Phi Phi along with her Taoist priest grandfather (Jack Lung) gets involved in the conflict between the King Of Evil and a family of vampires who are awakened three hundred years too soon. Basic plot-glue to hold matters together but Chivalric Tornado is a curious watch structure-wise. Its intended audience clearly is children and general viewers wanting to have a fun time. So there's gags involving urine and extended comedic banter with Jack Lung, a group of hopping vampires (due for transport by the priest) and a mahjong game. Yet the movie seems to want to deal with these matters early and then make up for any lack of depth or comedic skill by letting the action directors work... a lot.

We get the usual stances and forms performed at altars that then combines with physical effects (small pyrotechnics for instance) to demonstrate the existence of magical powers and a ton of animation on the same note. All timed well and done with energy but only in parts because Wang's movie is ever so slightly clunkier and slower than showcases such as in The Child Of Peach. The quality is there from the post-production team but being a cheaper production too set in sparse indoor-sets and for the majority outdoors, even this execution seems a little bit more sloppier and slower than usual coming from Taiwanese filmmakers.

But then subsequently Wang Chih-Cheng not only stacks action scene upon action scene for what feels like the last two thirds of the film, he does so using very grounded martial arts choreography. Some coming off as conceived the minute before, others are done with speed and combine really well with the effects-work. So essentially in a surprise move, Chivalric Tornado has its sights on traditional action-fans and gets a minor seal of approval for being able to find a way to sustain energy despite its uneven tendencies.

reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson