Amazingly, Daniel Chan Yee Heng’s Sifu vs Vampire is Hong Kong legend Yuen Biao’s first lead role in a feature film since Ricky Lau’s Hunted Hunter in 1997. We could imagine a better comeback vehicle than a crass Wong Jing-produced comedy, but we’ll take what we can get. Yuen plays Master Chiang, a Taoist priest and exorcist who together with his disciple Lingxin (Jiang Luxia) teams up with a pair of hapless gangsters (Ronald Cheng and Philip Ng) to fight – and sometimes fall in love with – vampires old and new. There’s a definite throwback quality to the film, as it harks back to the vampire comedies of the eighties and beginning of the nineties, most notably the Mr Vampire series which already featured Yuen Biao. Contrary to Juno Mak’s impressive Rigor Mortis, Sifu vs Vampire is straightforward and unpretentious, a loosely calibrated mix of (very) broad laughs, (very) mild scares and (very) sparse fighting.
The humour comes in the form of a long string of dick jokes, peppered with boob jokes, with a side-serving of ass jokes for good measure. The horror is carried out through sometimes effective cinematography and endearingly sloppy special effects. And the action, credited to Yuen Cheung Yan and Philip Ng would be effective if it weren’t limited to very short bursts. And the only protracted fight scene, where Philip Ng and Jiang Luxia lay the smackdown on a corridor full of vampires, is shown through a distorting filter, surely the stupidest decision imaginable considering it could have been one of the film’s few real pleasures. In the end, if the film manages to be just about palatable, it’s because of its cast. Yuen Biao is the straight man here, a bit of a pity considering he’s such a gifted comedic actor, and he fights very little but still, with his gravitas and easy-going charisma he’s a sight for sore eyes. Ronald Cheng does his schtick and Philip Ng demonstrates an welcome sense for physical comedy and unhinged goofiness, while Jiang Luxia finally graduates from playing dour tomboys to playing a dour woman. The four of them actually work quite well together, and to say they deserve a better film is a truism.
Long Story Short : Sifu vs Vampire is a sloppy and crass vampire comedy that manages to entertain thanks to an entertaining quartet of actors. **