Don't be fooled by the Tsui Hark stamp all over this flick -- while the film carries a few moments that echo the Hong Kong veteran's style, the rest of it just doesn't live up. While not a remake of the classic Hammer production Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, the pairing of kung fu and vampires is a tasty one that frankly, is not visited enough. Which makes it that much more upsetting that The Era of Vampire (aka Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters) comes off so blah. Hark's script is okay enough, though it offers nothing you've never seen before (except a confusing take on the zombie vampire legend). It does, however, allow for some intense kung fu scenes -- unfortunately for this film and it's audience, the action and direction by Wellson Chin is strictly subpar. While you can't deny the trademark Hong Kong style, the fight set pieces just don't push the envelope, and in turn, the whole thing comes off, well, very straight-to-video. And while the look of the film is pretty lush, with fire and deep shadows, the makeup is seriously unforgivable. The Vampire King in the end especially looks terrible, as some of his facial appliances might even be CG. There are a few okay gore effects, but with its pacing, lame action, and ghastly English dubbing (thank you Columbia/Tri Star), this flick limps to its finale with about as much life as a grapefruit. It's a shame that Hark couldn't direct this himself, as it surely would have had a little more punch and kick than it ended up with. That said, at least it's a new kung fu-vampire flick -- let's just hope they get it right next time.
by Jeremy Wheeler review