Mr. Vampire (and kin) - experience the adventure! Embrace the darkness!
October 14, 2017 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Clear some time for kung fu comedy with spooks and spirits, because here comes Mr. Vampire (YT, trailer)! While the Sammo Hung production isn't the first Hong Kong comedy horror fighting film to feature a jiangshi, or hopping corpses or vampires of Chinese folklore, it's the one that created a franchise and inspired numerous sequels and tributes. As a successful special effects driven 80’s comedy, it is often compared to Ghostbusters, but, you know, with martial arts. Let's dive into the world of Chinese folklore in HK comedy horror!

As noted by Kung Fu Kingdom, Encounters of the Spooky Kind (YT, trailer) was the first major jiangshi-featuring film, and may have had some superior fight scenes, but it was Mr. Vampire (Veoh, full movie with English subs) that really started the jiangshi-based film (and television) genre.

Mr. Vampire has one "canonical" sequel, Mr. Vampire 1992 (Dailymotion, English movie summary and review), and three other sequels that aren't related to the first film, but follow the same themes: Mr. Vampire II (Veoh), Mr. Vampire III (Dailymotion, part 1, part 2), and Mr. Vampire IV (Veoh). But if you're looking to get any sort of connection from this "series," don't bother -- they're connected in name only, as some don't even feature any jiangshi (review of the 5 Mr. Vampire films).

Then there are more Chinese vampire genre films featuring the unibrowed Taoist exorcist played by Lam Ching-ying, including Encounters of the Spooky Kind II (1990 - YT trailer, no subtitles), Magic Cop [aka Mr. Vampire 5] (1990 - YT, full movie with English subs), and Vampire Vs. Vampire (1989 - Veoh, full movie with English subs), which was directed by Lam himself. Lam was even featured in the two-season series Vampire Expert (Youtube playlist. That series may have continued career into another season, except he developed liver cancer and died before the project was completed. My Date with a Vampire, a series that started in 1998, was initially dedicated to Lam.

Speaking of spin-offs and tributes, there are games! Let's start with the NES game, Reigen Doushi (Japanese, longplay on YouTube), which was released as Phantom Fighter (ROM emulated online) in the US. And if you're more of a board game geek, there are a number of Mr. Vampire-related Japanese board games.

If you really want to expand your jiangshi movie playlist, Wikipedia has a limited list, which is notable for connecting two thematic sequels: jiangshi and The Gods Must Be Crazy (previously). Then there's a top 5 of Halloween Kung Fu Jiangshi horror movies from Legendary Weapons of LA.
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
Don't forget the classic insane 3 or 4 movies cut together nightmare Robo Vampire from the amazing Godfery Ho

It's basically robocop, but also jiangshi who are somehow drug smuggling tools.
posted by Ferreous at 2:47 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Such a timely post. I downloaded this movie based on zamboni's comment in the Overwatch Halloween 2017 Skins thread from a few days ago. I plan on watching it this weekend. Great share.
posted by Fizz at 2:56 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Bonus links: CHI-SUCKING BASTARDS OF THE FAR EAST (A CineManiac's Guide To Jiangshi Cinema) -- an uniformed westerner describes Jiangshi in culture and film, with a really long list of jiangshi-featuring films.

Kaiju Shakedown: Hopping Vampires Edition, which is an article written to give some context to the U.S. release of Rigor Mortis (YT trailer, Wikipedia), a well-regarded 2013 HK horror film with jiangshi; the article detailed the tropey details of most jiangshi films (See also: Chinese Vampire on TV Tropes), and includes reviews of 9 films.

What ever happened to Asian hopping zombies (Foreign Policy article from 2013; archived to avoid pop-ups), which notes that while jiangshi films were on a general decline, Rigor Mortis and some other titles were bringing back the characters/genre (also linked therein: Modernity as Crisis: Goeng si and Vampires in Hong Kong Cinema).

And a Google books preview of a book that may be of interest, if this sounds like your kind of thing: Spooky Encounters: A Gwailo*'s Guide to Hong Kong Horror by Daniel O'Brien. (*Gwailo or Gweilo is a common Cantonese slang term for Westerners)

Final meme-y internet-type link: jiangshi cat is the final form of pogo cat (it's a Battle Cats thing).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:57 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

All I know is when somebody tells you he needs sticky rice to fight hopping vampires, he damn well means sticky rice. Accept no substitutes!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:57 PM on October 14, 2017 [4 favorites]

Such a timely post. I downloaded this movie based on zamboni's comment in the Overwatch Halloween 2017 Skins thread from a few days ago. I plan on watching it this weekend.

zamboni's comment is what triggered all this :)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on October 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

Fuck yeah!
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on October 14, 2017

I just dropped in to mention the recent, relevant and awesome Yakuza Apocalypse. It's different in that it's about Yakuza vampires and Japanese demons, but it's similar in that it has plenty of action/comedy/horror/martial arts.

And that frog is super freaky.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:01 PM on October 14, 2017 [5 favorites]

Encounters of the Spooky Kind is all sorts of excellent.

And yes Yakuza Apocalypse is a spiritual successor to the genre, changing the vampire demon action to a modern yakuza setting.
posted by thecjm at 3:11 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Reikai Doushi (Chinese Exorcist / Last Apostle Puppet Show) is another video game where you get to kick a jiangshi in the face. If you can find it. (Which is basically impossible outside of MAME.)
posted by delfin at 4:28 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've never failed to enjoy a Sammo Hung movie. Will be watching this one in the near future. Thanks!
posted by asperity at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2017

I had no idea there were so many movies! If you're into jiangshi face kicking be sure to give the Darkstalkers series a try. I am terrible at Street Fighter type games but Hsien-Ko is fun to play.
posted by pagrus at 9:18 PM on October 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love these. Just wanted to express that.
posted by Capybara at 6:04 PM on October 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

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