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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Hopping Mad
The Mr Vampire Sequels


Starring: Lam Ching-Ying, Yuen Biao, Wu Ma, Richard Ng and Yuen Wah
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £39.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 22 May 2023

Eureka Entertainment releases Hopping Mad: The Mr Vampire Sequels – for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK. When Mr Vampire first showed at Hong Kong cinemas in 1985, viewers were wowed to the extent they demanded a horror/comedy/Kung-Fu hopping vampire sequel. Director Ricky Lau and producer Sammo Hung duly obliged by filming a string of follow-ups in the Jiangshi fighting style. Fully restored in 2K and presented as part of the Eureka Classics range, this set incorporates four films over two discs: Mr Vampire II (aka Vampire Family) from 1986; Mr Vampire III (1987); Mr Vampire IV (aka Uncle Vampire) from 1988; and Vampire vs Vampire (1989). The first three here were directed by Ricky Lau and the last by actor/director Lam Ching-ying. A plethora of Hong Kong stars – including Lam Ching-ying, Yuen Bia, Wu Ma, Richard Ng, and Yuen Wah – showcase their talents...

Extras on this set include a limited-edition slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling; a collector’s booklet with new writings by James Oliver; new audio commentaries on Mr Vampire II and Vampire vs Vampire by Asian film expert Frank Djeng; new audio commentaries on Mr Vampire III and Mr Vampire IV by action cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema; a new video piece on the history to date of the Jiangshi genre; original sleeve poster art; and trailers.

In Mr Vampire II, an archaeologist and his two foolhardy students uncover three ancient coffins which turn out to be vampires. The plan to sell-on the bodies goes disastrously awry when the students unwittingly bring them back to life. While the authorities – once convinced of the seriousness of the situation, and with the invaluable help of Lam Ching-ying’s character – track-down the adult vampires, the little monster has been taken-in and harboured by the young children of a local family. It takes more than a few minutes to encompass the sheer madness of this film. Much of the pace is hectic and the humour very much zany and slapstick. However, you have to accept and love the mad choreography which is spot-on in its timing.

In Mr Vampire III, Ming and his two ghosts combat vengeful spirits but inadvertently attract the attention of a powerful witch woman. When the woman and her bandits attack the locals with her magic, Taoist priest Uncle Nine’s experience of holy weapons against the evil is called upon. But even he ends up needing the help of Ming’s two ghosts. Lam Ching-ying’s priest Nine is the best and only sensible character in the film. He seems to hold the prevailing chaos together. The stunts and fight sequences are very well-handled and go by so quickly it’s impossible to grow bored or look too closely at the set-ups. The comedy is best represented in the fight sequences, so that it appears panic ensues. But everything is meticulously planned.

In Mr Vampire IV, a Taoist priest and a Buddhist monk are at constant loggerheads, always playing tricks on each other much to the chagrin of their two students who get on well. Nearby, soldiers are transporting a coffin in which lies a hopping vampire. Bad weather effects the charms on the coffin, and the vampire escapes to attack and infect several soldiers. The priest and the monk must work together to fight the outbreak of vampires. Half of this movie consists of the two masters playing dangerous pranks on each other, so that the viewer is thankful when a vampire shows up to give substance to the plot. With Lam Ching-ying absent from this outing, the film lacks that strong factor which normally ties it all together. There are some interesting ideas, however, including a very camp gay vampire.

In Vampire vs Vampire, a village’s water is tainted by bats. One-Eyebrow-Priest (the excellent Lam Ching-ying) traces the bats to an old, abandoned church, wherein a vampire is disturbed. Meanwhile, a lovestruck army captain finds a body with an emerald-mounted blade through its chest and removes it for the lady – thereby animating a Western-style vampire. There is so much going on in this instalment there is no time to relax and take stock. There are bats attacking nuns, a deadly tree spirit, a possessing ghost, the two powerful vampires, a hopping child vampire and much more. The stunts and fight sequences are stunning and have to be seen to be believed. Of course, the humour is ever-present but most emerges here through the ridiculousness of the situations.

I didn’t think I would enjoy this set, but I quickly grew into this crazy, chaotic world of the supernatural. Clearly, much went into the planning and choreography. Lam Ching-ying is an essential ingredient.


Ty Power

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