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Mr. Vampire 2 (Hong Kong Version)
Hot on the heels of his box-office smash, Mr. Vampire, director Ricky Lau serves up a second helping of hopping ghoul goodness, but by relegating the original's star, Lam Ching-Ying, to a supporting role he prevents lightning from striking twice. The reduction in Lam's screen time isn't the only difference, as Mr. Vampire 2 (1986) is set in modern times (well, at least the mid '80s) and there are a trio of vampires this time around, including an undead child, to cause trouble for our heroes.
The Professor (Fat Chung) and his two bumbling assistants (aren't they all?) are excavating a dig site when they find the remains of a sifu (could it be Master Gau from Mr. Vampire?) locked in eternal combat with a vampire, having affixed a sacred scroll to the fiend's forehead at the moment of his own death. The Professor notes that the corpse shows no signs of decay and when his assistants find the bodies of a woman and child in the same condition (also with spells affixed to their foreheads) he knows he's got a potential goldmine on his hands. So with the Professor blinded by greed and his trusted assistants merely stupid, bad things are bound to happen.
Sure enough, no sooner do the corpses get back to the lab before the foolishness begins. While the Professor takes the child to an interested "collector," one of his assistants foolishly removes the woman's scroll to study it further only to have her come back to life and chase him around the Professor's labs. Spotting another scroll, he immediately grabs it and plants it on her forehead, paralyzing her. Unfortunately, the scroll he used was the only thing keeping the male vampire from waking up. Hilarity ensues, while the Professor inadvertently loses the child on the way to his buyer.
Lam Ching-Ying is finally brought in around the halfway mark as an acupuncturist that the Professor's assistant goes to looking for a cure for his injuries. Lam recognizes the wounds immediately as vampire bites and decides to follow him to locate the monsters and destroy them. He's accompanied by Jen (Yuen Biao), a reporter who wants to marry his daughter (played by Mr. Vampire's Moon Lee in a cameo). The two go to the lab and are about to go toe-to-toe with the ghouls when the assistant knocks over a bottle of ether causing everyone to move r-e-a-l-l-y - s-l-o-w-l-y, just like in that Bugs Bunny short, "Water, Water Every Hare," where the villainous scientist chases Bugs with an axe in slo-mo ("Coommme Baacckk heerre yoouu Raaabbiitt").
Meanwhile, the vampire kid has been taken in by a naïve girl and her fat little brother under the impression that he is an illegal immigrant. They hide him from their father and take him out to play with the neighborhood kids in a sequence reminiscent of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Eventually the father finds out and the child vampire calls on his undead parents for help. At this point the shit really hits the fan, as the vampire parents have been subdued and taken into police custody. As Lam and Jen break them out of the station in order to put them to rest for good, Junior's call for help awakens them and sends them on a rampage through the streets of Hong Kong for the final battle.
I can't believe how many things are wrong with this film and I'm not just talking about the modern day setting. Things began promising enough with the discovery of the vampires, especially with the wink and nod to Mr. Vampire. Everything just goes downhill so quickly, as the vampires are never, and I mean NEVER, scary, the physical comedy of the first is supplanted by tired shtick and cute kid humor and the few action sequences that are there end up hampered by poor execution. Still, Lam Ching-Ying's presence, however slight, goes a long way to make up for the film's shortcomings and paved the way for several more sequels and knock-offs.
Picture: The film is presented in a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer, but shows it's age in several places. The print is clean, but grainy and even dark at times.
Audio: There are two audio tracks included on this DVD, a Cantonese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Track and a Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Track. I listened to the Cantonese 2.0 track and found it passable with well mixed sound effects and a somewhat repetitive soundtrack. The subtitles had some problems.
Extras: The only Extra included, and I'm using the term "extra" lightly, is the film's original trailer.
Conclusion: After the amazing Mr. Vampire, this sequel is definitely a disappointment. Director Ricky Lau just tempered with his formula too much, not to mention the lack of star Lam Ching-Ying through much of the film. Even supporting actor Yuen Biao, considered by many to be one of HK's greatest action stars, isn't given that much to do. Apparently Mr. Vampire 3 puts the series back on track, but I'll go out on a limb and say this is still worth a Rental for the fans. Rent It.