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  Mr. Vampire 2 Hopping into the Eighties
Year: 1986
Director: Ricky Lau
Stars: Yuen Biao, Moon Lee, Lam Ching Ying, Billy Lau, Chung Fat, Pauline Wong, Ho Kin-Wai, Hon To-Yue, Choi Man Gam, Wu Ma, Ka Lee, Hsiao Ho, James Tin Jun, Wu Fung, Stanley Fung Sui-Fan, Cheung Wing-Cheung
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Martial Arts, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Those springy bloodsuckers are back again. Unlike its predecessor, Mr. Vampire II jumps forward to mid-Eighties Hong Kong where grave robbing archaeologist Professor Kwok Tun Wong (Chung Fat) and his two bumbling assistants (Billy Lau and Stanley Fung Sui-Fan) unearth the perfectly preserved corpses of a vampire (Cheung Wing-Cheung), his wife (Pauline Wong - given no dialogue this time but showing a talent for silent comedy) and child (Ho Kin-Wai). Not realizing they’ve been immobilized by paper spells pasted on their foreheads, the clods inadvertently let the hopping vampires loose upon the city. When reporter Jen (Yuen Biao) has his interest piqued by a vampire victim, he and girlfriend Gigi (Moon Lee - once again given no chance to show off her amazing martial arts skills), and her Taoist expert father (Lam Ching Ying) set out to catch the galloping ghouls.

More so than Mr. Vampire (1985), it was the international success of this sequel that kicked off the “hopping vampire” craze in Hong Kong cinema. And that had nothing to do with returning cast members Lam Ching Ying, Moon Lee, Billy Lau and Pauline Wong, or the addition of Golden Harvest superstar Yuen Biao. Nope, it was down to the subplot wherein the forlorn little vampire befriends young Chia-Chia (Hon To-Yue) and her brother (Choi Man Gam). Scenes that deliberately evoke E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982) have him hide in the bedroom cupboard, magically levitate toys, and take a trip around the fun sights of Hong Kong (although he heads straight for the blood bank!).

This sudden outbreak of cutesiness - which extends to a vampire lullaby - created an Asian sensation where people bought cuddly vampire toys, vampire sweets, and in Japan even sent their toddlers to vampire-themed day-care centres. It’s a crazy world. Eventually, this craze spun into a whole other strand of kiddie vampire movies, including Aloha Little Vampire Story (1988), Hello Dracula (1988) and Vampire Kids (1991). For all its popularity in Asia, this is definitely the lesser film, with a dearth of Chinese vampire lore and too much time spent on would-be cuddly bloodsuckers and the inane mugging of Billy Lau. Director Ricky Lau excels at staging slapstick fu and tense stalk and chase scenes, but a few of these smack of padding and it takes a while before sifu Lam and his sidekicks get to vampire busting.

As before, this entry touches on the clash between age-old beliefs and the modern world. Westernized Professor Kwok unleashes the vampire menace because of his greed, while Lam Ching Ying must put things right with his adherence to traditional Taoist ways. He won’t even let poor Jen marry Gigi unless he gives up his journalistic career to help run Lam’s medicine shop. Once again, dumb cops haul Lam off to jail and question his methods, which leads to an amusing gag. When asked for his qualifications, Lam lists Encounters of the Spooky Kind (1980), The Dead and the Deadly (1983) and the previous Mr. Vampire movie. “Oh right, you’re Lam Ching Ying” says the police captain. The film also flirts with social commentary when the children mistake the vampires for a family of mainland immigrants.

The film is never less than watchable. Yuen Biao - one of the most gifted acrobats in Hong Kong cinema - performs some daredevil stunts. There is a superb sequence with the vampires leaping over burning cars and an inspired bit of slapstick buffoonery wherein a broken bottle of ether makes everyone move in slow-motion. The series bounced back with Mr. Vampire 3 (1987).

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Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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