aka 救殭清道夫 aka Gao Geung Jing Dou Fu 2017 Written by Yan Pak-Wing, Ho Wing-Hong, and Ashley Cheung Yin-Kei
Directed by Chiu Sin-Hang and Yan Pak-Wing
SFFilm had their annual Hong Kong Film Festival and due to the power of having two tickets leftover from the last festival I went to see two films in this festival! This time, all the films were at the fabulous Vogue Theater, which is a bit of a headache for me to get to but at least parking around there isn’t terrible (also a skunk sprayed my car as thanks for me stopping in time to not hit him as he ran across the road, lol!) While my car now stank, Vampire Cleanup Department did not, but it wasn’t a new paradigm in Hong Kong horror comedy, either. Unfortunately it is one of those middle of the road flicks that are hard to write about, due to me not wanting to slam it too hard due to the parts that were good, but not wanting to praise it to the heavens due to the parts that were bad. It’s sort of a modern take on the Mr. Vampire flicks, except imagine if the one-eyebrowed priest was employed by the Hong Kong government in a secret department. The squad takes down vampires when they pop up, and since this is a Hong Kong film they are of the hopping variety.
We follow Tim Cheung (BabyJohn Choi Hon-Yik) as he moves from hapless schlub to member of the Vampire Cleanup Department. It helps that he is the son of two former members who were killed while on duty, his mother’s last act was giving birth to him after a vampire attack. This makes him a legacy hire but also means he’s got some vampire immunity that is explained just well enough when needed for plot purposes. As the new guy he gets all the garbage details including cleaning up the office via constant sweeping and also memorizing and making the different vampire amulets (the strips of paper with writing on them that the priests put on vampire heads to freeze them or control them.) This framework lets them follow the traditional hero’s journey arc, except with some extra films stuffed along for the ride. Continue reading →
Haunted House Elf is what the title of this film translate to. There are little to no records of this hardly anywhere, especially records in English. Whoever did the subtitles decided that the vampires would be called “The Living Dead” He also decided that checking spelling was for pussies and that he was a real man. I’m here to tell you this guy is no real man and probably couldn’t spell “man” correctly if it was tattooed on his hand, much less any other word.
There was a period of time where tons of hopping vampire flicks popped up in the shadow of the Mr. Vampire films. Because hopping vampires are wacky, kids loved them, and it was inevitable that hopping vampire kid movies appeared. There was a ton of them at one point, you couldn’t shake a magic paper tract without it hitting the forehead of some hopping vampire kid. Then, like most fads, it quickly died and was replaced with Pokemon or something. Hmph…kids.
Wang Chi-Chiang aka Shiao-Chiang (???) – His mom is dead, his dad is a drunk, and Shiao-Chiang has anger at his mom for dying. But he’s too busy trying to please and comes off as a normal kid, which is good. Shiao because means little, as you should know had you seen that Karate Kid remake or speak Chinese.
Shiao-Ming (Lin Hsiao Lan) – The daughter of the family that owns the house. We never find out her full name. Not very good at being low-key that they are up to something, but mom is too busy. Lin Hsiao Lan is best known for starring in a bunch of Peach Boy films.
Lee Chung-Chiang aka Shaio-Tai (???) – Bratty son of the family that owns the haunted house. Is a big jerk, yells at people for no reason, and the rest of the kids ditch him to go on their comic book adventure. Jerks always finish last, buddy!
Tong-Tong (???) – A Hopping Vampire Kid who was trapped in a coffin for 300 years, then gets his new friends trapped in a comic book where they almost die like 50 times. A real friend. Now let’s stake him!
Tribal Chief (Wu Ma) – An evil tribal chief who is about to feast on some princess when these kids and a vampire show up in his comic book story and ruin the plot. Tribal Chief switches more costumes than an evening of Saturday Night Live trying to defeat the invaders, but eventually dies when the comic book burns up.
1977HKMDB Link Directed and written by Tyrone Hsu Tien-Yung
Golden Nun is another in a long line of Taiwanese flicks that are pretty much unknown here and filled with goofy things. In this instance, we got a bald headed lady monk who fights a ghost girl, and at one point this bald nun becomes golden. Thus, the title. Does it make sense? Hell no! But why let that stop you? Taiwanese films are like…films…that….stuff. Yeah. Uh. Okay, maybe I need an actual metaphor and should stop winging it. So there have been more Taiwanese films than usual reviewed here recently, largely due to the fact I got a hold of a bunch of odd ones and am cranking them out slowly but surely.
What is weirdest about Golden Nun is that it is a musical! Inspired by Chinese opera stuff so there are a few random songs. The first one comes out of nowhere, but you get used to them.
Names are best guesses based on dialogue, they might be completely wrong, but too bad! Since this review is about it for English language mentions of Golden Nun, you are going to take what you can get and like it! We have no subtitles and no patience. But at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinkin’ subtitles!
Sai Yu-Chan (Lam Dai) – golden nun Lam Dai actually shaved her head for this role (or a few other roles, it looks like she is bald in a few movies.) In addition to starring in Golden Nun, Lam Dai also had a role in 13 Golden Nuns, released the same year but probably unrelated. She is also in a movie called Wolf Girl
Sing Wei-a (Lee Tao Hung) – Main guy who gets involved in all the wacky adventures with his bald girlfriend and ghost wife. Wacky wacky wacky. Too bad he is so boring.
Shiu Jiu-wa (Hu Chin) – Is she or isn’t she? Only her mortician knows for sure! Hu Chin was in The Fate of Lee Khan, so she gets forgiven for the fact the rest of her career looks like it was nothing but trash like this.
Taoist Priest (Tien Feng) – Tien Feng was Lee Khan in The Fate of Lee Khan, and also plays bad dudes in many other films, so he rules, even if he isn’t Lam Ching-Ying and therefore not the best Taoist Priest ever. Thus, he gets killed.
Pervy Guy (Lor Tok) – Lor Tok from James Band 007? What are you doing here? I guess his popularity in Thai films translated to making the big money in Taiwan. He basically has an extended cameo as a pervy guy who gets offed by the ghostly Shiu Jiu-wa.
Another crazy Taiwanese fantasy film, complete with some random kaiju, dragons, people puking gas, sexy women seducing heroes, evil rapists dudes, a midget, guys who turns into lizards, and an annoying flying kid.
Annoying flying kids seems to be a common occurrence in Taiwanese films, which is a shame because they are annoying.
The film follows standard video game format of rescuing the princess (Mom) and fighting all sorts of various baddies on a mission, including several boss characters and gaining a few helper dudes along the way. And you get weapons upgrades. The video game connection is solidified by actual video game sound effects used in Flyer of Young Prodigal, even though this is years before video games were rescuing the princess.
Not much info on this one. Chang Yeong Yeong is listed as a star, but I don’t know who that is. Most of the other names I cannot read thanks to them being chopped off due to the fullscreen framing. So if anyone wants to send me a widescreen copy, go right ahead! We’ve reconstructed as much of the cast as we possibly can in the Roll Call.
Sheau-long (You Shean-Long/Yu Shein-Long) – This kid is annoying, but aren’t all kids in these films annoying? He isn’t super-annoying, but he’s still pretty darn annoying. And he’ll be crying all the time. Oh, and since his dad was murdered and his mother kidnapped, he has been trained by his Sifu and sets out to rescue his mom, slaying monsters all along the way. He is credited as “Genius Chird Actor” You Shean-Long. Don’t you know about the Chird? Everybody knows the Chird is the word!
Lien-hua (???) – Sheau-long’s mom, who manages to get kidnapped because her husband Yann-chang can’t defeat some simple demons who come to kill him and steal his wife. Lien-hua becomes a slave and I guess just sits around while Cha-tien Devil tries to get it on with a different woman who is never explained. I don’t know the villain’s motivation. Maybe he’s mad he didn’t get the complete set of The Great Muppet Caper collectible glasses and decided to take it out on the world.
Lui Yuan-long (Tsung Hua) – Good guy who can turn into a dragon and joins Sheau-long on his journey because he wants to get it on with his sister.
Sister (???) – The unnamed Sister of Sheau-long, who is another orphan raised by Sifu and trained in martial arts for eventual revenge on her parents’ killers, except she doesn’t get to have revenge in this film as she is too busy chasing after Sheau-long. This brat just cost us some female revenge movie time! That jerk…
Sifu (???) – Sifu who spends his days saving almost killed kids and training them for battle so they can plot revenge years later. He’s only done it twice, I guess it is a slow couple of decades for child murdering. That’s probably good for society, but bad for those of us who like revenge movies!
Cha-tien Devil (???) – The Evil Dude who is totally evil and kidnaps moms and has lots of demon guys working for him. How does he pay them? Does he have health insurance? What about matching contributions for the 401K? None of those important questions are answered.
Head Evil Woman (???) – The head evil woman who works for Cha-tien Devil. Despite the fact that her M.O. is to seduce and destroy her enemies, Cha-tien Devil is shocked and enraged by her seducing Lui Yuan-long. Thus, she gets killified.
aka Kei hei hup aka Kung Fu Cyborg: Metallic Attraction
2009 Directed by Jeffery Lau
Jeffery Lau declared he wanted to do Chinese Transformers, and have his robots be “the incarnation of Oriental wisdom and strength.” Okay. Lau is no stranger to science fiction, as anyone who has seen A Chinese Tall Story can testify. Kung Fu Cyborg was originally titled Robot, then the title was turned into the easier to remember Metallic Attraction: Kung Fu Cyborg. Except for when it was called Kung Fu Cyborg: Metallic Attraction! Or just Kung Fu Cyborg. D’Oh! So we’ll just call it Kung Fu Cyborg when we refer to it, even if we slip up later. Just ignore the slip ups. They are not the droids you are looking for.
This is a long movie, approaching Korean standard of length. One could easily trim 30 minutes and it would do nothing but help the film along. The length is because it seems like two movies smooshed together, an origin story and a second story. Unfortunately, that means things will be dragging. And dragging. And lots of side plots happen. And it takes forever for the freaking robots to do their robot thing. Which is sort of why I watched the movie in the first place. Before this introduction gets as long as the pre-robot fight scenes in Kung Fu Cyborg, let’s just get to the Roll Call!
Xu Dachun (Hu Jun) – Xu Dachun is a tough cop who wants to get out of his small town and be a famous big town cop. Instead, he has to babysit a robot who moves in on the girl he loves. Then he dies and gets robotted himself. Tough break.
K-1 (Alex Fong Lik-Sun) – K-1 is just your average robot cyborg disguised as a normal human sent undercover to work as a police officer while secretly using his powers in very obvious ways that should blow his cover 5 times a day. But they never do because everyone in the film is crazy. Good for the film. Alex Fong Lik-Sun was on the 2000 Olympics swimming team and is a singer. Don’t confuse him with Alex Fong Chung-Sun, who I now realize I have seen almost 2 dozen of his films.
Zhou Sumei (Betty Sun Li) – A police officer in the small town who takes a shine to K-1. But Dachun likes her already, thus leading to a love triangle. Further love triangle problems are because K-1 is not allowed to love. Basically, lots of love problems, none of which is resolved by giant robot fights. I didn’t realize I knew who Betty Sun Li was until I remembered she was in a music video with Rain that my wife has watched 1000 times on Youtube. She rescues animals and wrote a book called Take Me Home: The Stories of I and Stray Animals.
K-88 (Wu Jing) – aka Chen Long, a rogue robot who will give the few lines of philosophical mumbo-jumbo the film tries to pass off as in depth commentary on man’s place in the universe. And he fights, thus we get action!
Xiao Jiang (Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei) – A local teacher and computer expert who has a crush on Sumei. Ronald Cheng is pretty famous considering his smaller role.
Zhou Suqing (Gan Wei) – Sumei’s sister who was off in college and thus not in part of the film. Spends most of the film with her hair covering her face. This is Gan Wei’s first acting role, but she did marketing work on films like CJ7, Warlords, and Red Cliff 2. Gan Wei also rescues animals like Betty Sun Li.
Lin Xiang (Eric Tsang Chi-Wai) – Eric Tsang spends most of his scenes looking like he is a millisecond from crying, which is an odd acting choice. Okay. Lin Xiang is the dude who invents all the robots for the government and in charged with making sure they don’t go all Skynet on the general population.
What we got here is sort of Malaysian Ghostbusters, but they use stick weapons instead of proton packs. Instead of busting ghosts we’re fighting monsters and demons. The mood is humorous, not taken too seriously, sort of like the actual Ghostbusters. With people running around in wacky costumes fighting monsters, the film can’t not be entertaining, double negative or not. Good fun. What other film let’s you see a giant Monsters Inc. character battle a giant robot? Take that, Iron Man!
Poh Jee (Radhi) – Poh Jee is our hero who dreams of a life greater than his pest extermination business. When he finds out his grandfather is a former demon fighter and is killed, Poh Jee can finally become the hero he has always wished to be. Radhi is a musician and actor
Drakulat Van Listerooy (Awie) – Drakulat is a servent of Lord Sharon, father of Satan, and longs to bring his master into our realm. Drakulat has been trying to do so for decades. Is constantly defeated by demon fighters. Awie is an actor and singer whose full name is Ahmad Azhar Bin othman.
Atuk/Pak Din (Harun Salim Bachik) – Atuk/Pak Din is Poh Jee’s grandfather and the last of the demon fighters (because Gultur just quit.) He is killed when Drakulat is freed, and passes on his tools to his grandson.
Lara Lenjan (Scha) – Lara drives a taxi, and is luckily there when Poh Jee needs a vehicle to chase after his grandfather. It also turns out she is one of the chosen to fight demons. A tough girl who is almost always wearing a baseball cap. Scha’s full name is Sharifah Nor Azean Bt Syed Mahadzir. Imagine that on a marquee! She is a hostess, model, and actress who also speaks English. Check out her gallery.
Opie (Nasrizal Ngasri) – A tire thief who turns out to be one of the chosen to become the next generation of demon fighters. Opie has an abrasive personality, but as Poh Jee is also loud, he fits right into the group. Nasrizal Ngasri is an actor, and that is the entirety of the information about him in English online.
Rambo (Bront Palarae) – Rambo is the effeminate member of the group who gets the least amount of characterization. So I can’t really give you an idea as to what Rambo is, besides named after an American movie franchise. Bront Palarae is an actor, director, and writer.
Tasya (???) – Tasya is the other female member of the group, who is dressed up like a stereotypical conservative female bookworm. Thus Opie immediately takes a liking to her. She is the one to turn to when you need someone who has read the instructions manual for a device.