The Vampire Who Admires Me (2008)
Directed by: Cub Chien
Why do we bother when we should know better? Wong Jing, low budget, bikini-models on the poster and the cheapo version of a cheapo Chinese vampire hovering over them... Wong Jing does indeed NOT care if his movies suck. He knows a thing or two about a thing or two though. One how to make a smash at the box office with audience friendly elements (more true then than now however) and another how to inject his desire to be a serious filmmaker as evident by his uncredited producing stint on Ann Hui's The Way We Are.
Therefore sitting back to see if someone else or new can provide some cheap energy is a key so bring in Cub Chien. Writing Re-Cycle for the Pang Brothers as well as being assistant director on said project, it certainly can be argued that he teams up with Wong Jing in order to bring out a dual desire to echo the good old days of dopey 80s horror comedies. Which is a splendid idea that today demands a whole lot more effort compared to then. That Cub Chien and Wong Jing either don't get or don't have in the tank. So naturally, The Vampire Who Admires Me... tanks.
But the way they stack cheap clichés and almost exploitation-plotting on top of each other is good setup if anything. After deciding to be horny in a graveyard, some teenagers are the victim of a dormant king vampire. Cut to a group of models on a photo shoot but photographer Roman (Sam Lee with big hair. Cue laugh track) wants more decadence so it's decided to go to a remote island and the villa of producer King (Samuel Pang). On that very island the king vampire lies and one of the models, Macy (J. J. Jia - Isabella) who can see dead people senses trouble. This means that another dormant group on the island, the bumbling idiot cops gets to work for once. Especially so since they have a new, female superior (Jo Koo - Visible Secret) arriving. Let the hopping vampire shenanigans begin...
The little pre-movie with the first attack isn't exactly Jaws-like in its effect but clearly Wong Jing is aiming for a classic structure that of course adheres more to his Hong Kong cinema working grounds. And the movie certainly strikes the tone it desires, bringing in your good looking, badly acting females (whose job it is to remember lines, not perform) not capable of putting up much of a fight and a group of cops hamming it up 80s Hong Kong cinema style (including performing big flatulence jokes). Certainly youth rather than adult horror, the David Lee directed Yes, I Can See Dead People certainly proved how far you got with sincerity. The Vampire Who Admires Me doesn't translate its very well.
Problem lies with Cub Chien's "scary" setup and teases if you will. Utilizing most of the horror movie tools you would expect on the remote location in the movie, clearly his post-production on these scenes are literally way louder than the visual scares so that signals pretty much a lack of skill. Scary old people and scary kids can be actually scary but here their power is taken over by an audio engineer on a rampage.
So if the movie had featured a breakout in pace, energy and preferably more gore (and less of the CGI kind in that regard), maybe even a fun character- and thematic journey could've been injected that deals with youth love, envy of "fame" and the followers of that fake fame but when the payoff to those intentions begin to feel like canned melodrama, several bad chords are struck repeatedly by Cub Chien and Wong Jing. Anyone could've accepted the more serious approach to the horror come ending time had it been exciting to follow but the actual promising heights (cheap heights but still promising) are never supported by intentions turned into skill. Wong Jing should perhaps turn away from echoing the olden days while Cub Chien might blossom under someone else. We'll see as we continue to examine him under the guiding light of the Pang Brothers instead. You're out, Wong Jing!
The DVD (Garry's Trading):
Video: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Audio: Cantonese (with dialogue in Mandarin by Natalie Meng's character) Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English (coherent and with very few errors even for this type of movie), traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
Extras: Making Of (4 minutes, 27 seconds) following the usual format but carrying the movie title "A Vampire Admires Me" plus a terrible Music Video (4 minutes, 1 seconds) involving Natalie Meng.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson