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TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS

TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS ($25) is a movie that probably won’t be to every taste, but I found this Hong Kong import to be a whole lot of fun. This mix of supernatural horror and wire enhanced martial arts could be described along the lines of THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES meets CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, but perhaps without the art house appeal of the latter. For those raised on American horror movies and their European legends, some of the Chinese folklore contained in TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS needs to be explained. In china, the undead creatures that stalk the landscape differ from their western counterparts, with zombies giving rise something far worse- namely, vampires.

Set in 17th century China, TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS follows four warriors named Wind, Thunder, Rain and Lightning, who combat the undead alongside their wizened Master. After battling an extremely powerful vampire, the four warriors are left on their own, when both the vampire and their master vanish during the conflict. Continuing their mission on their own, the four warriors track the evil supernatural forces to an estate that is rumored to be the hiding place of a vast treasure. Accepting jobs as servants, the four warriors remain undercover, while keeping a watchful eye out for vampire activity. Shortly after accepting their new positions, bodies literally begin to pile up around the estate, not to mentions those that are being torn apart outside its walls. Realizing that they’ve come to the right place, the warriors prepare for the inevitable encounter with the vampire they have been hunting.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image on the DVD is very pleasing, as is the film element used for the transfer, which is relatively free from blemishes. Sharpness and image detail are very good for a Hong Kong production, maybe not up to the level of an American "A" list movie, but still pretty darn impressive. There are some mild weaknesses in a couple of the visual effect shots, but nothing really worth complaining about. Colors are generally vibrant, especially the reds, and are reproduced without any signs of noise or smearing. Blacks appear pure, while the whites are crisp and stable. Darker scenes render fairly good shadow detail and the picture produces a nice sense of depth. Digital compression artifacts are always well camouflaged.

The Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is well mixed and fairly aggressive. The surround channels are well deployed during the action sequences and provide a nice sense of space during the quite moments. Sound effects can be a bit exaggerated, but what would a martial arts film be without out them. Voices have a nice sense of presence, although judging intelligibility is beyond my abilities. The bass channel is very solid and really serves to enhance the proceedings. An English dubbed 5.1 channel soundtrack is also provided and while it sounds similar to it Cantonese counterpart- the English dialogue is totally laughable. A French Dolby Surround track is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English, French subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as trailers for COWBOY BEBOP, NATIONAL SECURITY and TIME AND TIDE.

The horror/martial arts sub-genre isn’t exactly brimming with titles, so audiences should consider themselves lucky whenever one of these odd cross-pollinated films come their way. Personally, I found TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS to be a fun little title, but even I recognize that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if blood, gore and wire enhanced martial arts is your idea of good time, TSUI HARK'S VAMPIRE HUNTERS is probably a movie you’ll want to check out on DVD, especially since Columbia TriStar’s disc looks and sounds really, really good.

 

TSUI HARK’S VAMPIRE HUNTERS 


Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters (2002)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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