Vampire Vs Vampire (1989)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2010-05-08
Summary: A must see from the 1980s.
“Vampire vs. Vampire” has something for almost everyone. The One-Eyebrow Priest returns with his dumb, clumsy assistants. He is helped out by the Little Vampire, a hopping ghost who has been adopted into the household as a mascot. Maria Cordero is a tough first sergeant disguised as the Mother Superior of a small convent of nuns; Tiffany Lau hangs around (literally) as a wandering spirit who threatens to take over the bodies of both Ho and Fung until she is reunited with her missing body. Perhaps best of all, Sandra Ng is bitten by Dracula and changes into a vampire—not a Chinese hopping ghost but a Western, fanged, blood drinking, living in a coffin version.

As always Lam Ching-Wing is the calm center of this whirling world of insanity, doing his job of keeping the dead from disturbing the living and consulting with village elders regarding the Feng Shui of their water and air. There have been problems and he locates a new place for the village well. While everyone is at lunch a bunch of bats swoop in and move the stake showing the contractors where to dig—move it to directly above the body of their master, Dracula.

He is dug out of the ground but since he has been buried in the proper fashion with a stake through his heart there is no danger although to be sure the Taoist priest insists on a ceremonial cremation. Unfortunately those who buried the count didn’t follow all the directions and instead of using a wooden stake he was impaled with a cross with decorated with a huge ruby. When Sandra Ng and her cousin/boyfriend Billy Lau see the ruby they are able to switch the corpse with a statute giving them time to dig out the gem. When the cross is dislodged from the vampire’s chest he comes back alive (or as “alive” as a being like that can be) and the game is on.

One Eyebrow is confused at first since none of his Taoist magic works on this newly undead person. He laughs off red and yellow prayers stuck to his forehead, rips through a red net without difficulty and is unaffected by anything our hero can do. Since Dracula has already bitten Sandra Ng he must be stopped. This is where the real brilliance of this movie takes off. With his magic useless the Taoist priest must use his own extraordinary fighting and athletic skills to defeat the monster which he does after an exciting chase through the forest and a battle to the death on the edge of a quicksand pool.

There is an important subplot that parallels the battle with Dracula. Ho and Fung have managed to activate an enraged female spirit when they blunder into an enchanted palm tree grove. One Eyebrow has told them “Don’t touch the palm trees” and only a few seconds pass between the warning and the first palm tree grabbing. He rescues them and drives away the worst of the bad energy his bumbling assistants have unleashed then tell gives the guys detailed, foolproof instructions on how to deal with the succubus who is sure to arrive. There is always a fool to show that no plan is foolproof and one of the guys winds up possessed by the demon.

On one level there is One Eyebrow who is able to defeat his enemy even when his magic doesn’t work. One another, much lower and less developed level are Ho and Fung who are so caught up with their own rivalry, their untamable concupiscence and their general inability to take anything seriously that they are helpless even in a “normal” case where the spells are all but prepackaged and ready for use. The gap between the enlightened priest and the still striving apprentices has never been wider. Another intriguing character is Mother Superior who while not happy with the idea of saving the lives of the young women in her charge while possibly losing her own never thinks of abandoning them but maintains necessary discipline, order and fighting spirit even when they are attacked by hundreds of bloodthirsty bats.

The Western actor who plays Dracula is no Christopher Lee but his Count is a worthy opponent for Lam Ching-Ying. While there are a few lacuna in his part—he isn’t fazed by a crucifix, is able to operate on consecrated ground and doesn’t need sacred soil from Transylvania to survive—he is convincing and menacing. What he isn’t and what Dracula should be is seductive, particularly with five beautiful young nuns always around. However going with Dracula as fiercely ugly to the point of deformity emphasized how evil and powerful adversary he was.

The copy we saw seemed to be missing about six minutes. Not sure of the source but the editing was slapdash and the color timing atrocious but only took the edge off of our enjoyment of a terrific movie which is very highly recommended.
Reviewer Score: 9