Mr. Vampire is the result of Bo Ho productions that Sammo formed after the conclusion of Gar Bo productions (with Karl Maka and Liu Chia Yung). Mr. Vampire also uses a blend of his stable cast and some fresh blood to add vitality to a proven formula. Chin Siu Ho (Tai Chi Master) plays probably the most significant role in his career as the lead Chou Chun. Other new faces include Ricky Hui Koon-Ying as Man Chor and Director Ricky Lau. Both Yuen Wah and the late Lam Ching Ying get acting roles and provide the electric action choreography, plus Moon Lee plays the female lead after working with Sammo in Zu Warriors.
Lam Ching Ying plays the long suffering Taoist priest, Uncle Ko, who has two mischievous students in Man Chor (Ricky Hui) and Chou Chun (Chin Siu Ho). Uncle Ko is asked to exhume Master Yam's father due to the burial having bad feng shui. Upon exhuming the body Uncle Ko realises he has a vampire on his hand (Yuen Wah). The vampire first attacks Master Yam (Huang Ha) and then goes after his daughter (Moon Lee). The following chaos involves Chou and Uncle Ko having to tackle three vampires and also protect Chou from an enchanting ghost (Pauline Wong)!
As could be expected, the action and stunts are exceptionally performed. This is not a martial arts heavy movie and many of the scenes contain a fantastical element, such as flying heads and bullet-proof vampires. The comedic element is consistent throughout, especially in the interplay between the deadly serious Uncle Ko and the cheeky Man Chor. The comedy also borrows a trick from Spooky Encounters, where the correct rice is required from Wu Ma's rice shop to fight the undead (Spooky Encounters did a similar joke on duck eggs). However, this is more refined attempt at the supernatural action comedy than Spooky Encounters. The film is best enjoyed with a light-hearted approach, the dialogue and the acting only support the humour and ensure the film progresses at a leisurely pace. The funniest moments include the breath holding scenes so as not to be detected by the vampires, plus Anthony Chan provides a laugh in a cameo as Ko's incompetent associate.
The Hong Kong Legends disc is once again a fine release. Everything that could normally be expected can be found on this disc (dual language, DD5.1, widescreen, anamorphic, trailers, audio commentary). Further attractions include the interviews with Chin Siu Ho and Moon Lee, the Vampire's Lair and an atmospheric disc design.
After watching this film it is becomes clear why Mr. Vampire
spawned so many sequels and became such a surprise hit. I would not watch
this film purely from a martial arts point of view, but the stunts and
choreography are of the highest level. This is a triumph for action comedy,
the type that really broke through with Project A. Sammo had attempted
several times before to combine supernatural content with his humour in
Spooky Encounters and The Victim. Before Mr. Vampire the results had been
acceptable rather than outstanding, but in Mr. Vampire the cast and crew
managed to balance all the elements perfectly. The only disappointment
will be the lack of Sammo himself adding to the fun, but maybe him taking
the back seat allowed for some fresh impetus and ideas to create this