30 June 2020 | lost-in-limbo
Messy is an understatement.
One character gets their neck snapped, as the lifeless body is flung straight back to their colleagues with one of them replying with the subtitles "How are you"? And this happens more than once. Obviously something lost in translation there. "THE VAMPIRE COMBAT" feels like something that's 10 to 15 years late to the party. Looking at it, you'd think you're watching a film from the 80s or 90s. You can't help but think it was purposely filmed that way, almost homage in its styling, but I'm not arguing.
HK horror-action-adventure that sets up occult cannibalistic ghouls, vengeful spirits, a pasty looking vampire master known as Devil Monster and supernatural hunters(?) with rollicking martial arts, ruthless acts of violence, moody atmospheric lighting and cheap, yet charming special FX all wrap up in a neat bow. Well, that's within the first 20 odd minutes, after that the plot confusingly chops around, stalling too often, by becoming that invested in its layered narrative of fate and future life's incarnations. There it centers on a couple of characters, as they try to understand how they connect to all of these deaths, visions and supernatural occurrences. While at the same time, the master's evil followers are trying everything to find and break the seal that traps their master. I was at a lost to what was happening, as my interest did begin sway.
Not helping either is the flat acting, as the lively bit parts overshadow the drab, straight-talking leads. And there's not enough Devil Monster... even though when around he doesn't get up to a lot, but his eccentrics were much needed, some blood sucking, eye gouging and especially towards the end when he goes about confessing his undying love for the male heroine. Shouldn't surprise you though. The anticlimactic climax provides CGI that doesn't look out of place in the scheme of things, yet what occurs is dumbfounding, which is only matched by its sudden ending. This would be one of Lo Lieh's last films.