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It’s a fact of life that many Asian films undergo name changes en route to international distribution, often ending up with rather generic sounding monikers that have little to do with their actual content. However, by any standard, very few distributors have been quite as bold or sneaky as Arrow Films with their UK DVD release of the Hong Kong production “Vampire Warriors”, which they’ve cunningly re-titled “Lesbian Vampire Warriors”, presumably in a bid to attract a certain kind of male viewer. This is furthered by the DVD cover, which features three of the film’s female supporting cast in vaguely racy gear and brandishing bloody weapons, explicitly suggesting a potent mix of sex and violence.
The plot follows upcoming Mainland martial arts actress Jiang Luxia (“True Legend”) as vampire hunter Ar, who co-exists peacefully with a nearby family of ‘vegetarian’ vampires who avoid feeding on humans, including Si (Chrissie Chau, “Beach Spike”), Long (veteran Chin Siu Ho, recently in “Revenge: A Love Story”), and Li (Rock Ji). Their harmonious existence is thrown into chaos with the arrival of evil bloodsucker Meng (martial arts legend Yuen Wah), who sets about feeding on the other vampires to increase his own powers. Unable to match Meng’s skills, Ar is forced to ask Si to turn her into a vampire so that she can bring him down before he kills them all.
Pity anyone who picks up “Lesbian Vampire Warriors” expecting lesbians or anything even remotely titillating, as what they’ll be getting instead is a film by Hong Kong real-estate developer-turned director Dennis Law. As viewers familiar with other Law outings like “Womb Ghosts”, “Bad Blood” or “A Very Short Life” will attest, though his enthusiasm for genre and exploitation film making is not to be doubted, he’s a man noted for being prolific rather than talented. “Lesbian Vampire Warriors” is very much in line with the other films on his CV, suffering from the same issues with bad pacing, slack storytelling and uncertain tone, feeling suspiciously like a few different productions stitched incompetently together in a bid for mass appeal.
Matters aren’t helped by a dull and uninteresting set of characters, and there really isn’t much of a plot, with the laughable Meng showing up intermittently at best and failing to add any kind of threat, most of the running time being taken up with spectacularly lame and unfunny comedy and the angsty, toothless vamps sitting around and moaning about their lives. As a result, “Lesbian Vampire Warriors” comes across like an even more unfocused and considerably less charming version of “The Twins Effect”, a statement which should give a fair indication of just how bad the film really is.
Matters aren’t helped by the cheap looking production values, and the complete lack of any of the promised sex or violence. Just to make things perfectly clear, there is no nudity, sleaze, lesbianism or indeed sex of any kind on offer, the closest the film coming to raciness being a couple of very brief shots of the admittedly gorgeous and chesty Chrissie Chau hanging upside down in a somewhat revealing outfit. Although there’s a fair amount of martial arts action involving the skilled Jiang Luxia, and it’s good to see old school genre favourite Yuen Wah on screen (who, ironically enough along with Chin Siu Ho starred in the immortal 1985 classic “Mr Vampire”), the fights are poorly handled and unexciting, with no actual violence or blood. The special effects are uniformly dreadful, and the film is further hampered by some pretty horrible CGI work, which ensures that none of its set pieces manage to raise the pulse even slightly.
There’s really nothing to like about “Lesbian Vampire Warriors”, and even viewers who know what they are letting themselves in for are likely to be left feeling a queasy mixture of disappointment and anger. While it’s perhaps understandable that Arrow Films would feel the need for their dishonest re-titling of such a dreadful dud, it may well prove to be a huge mistake for the company, as it’s hard to imagine Asian film fans trusting the label to do right by them quite so much in the future.
Dennis Law (director) / Dennis Law (screenplay)
CAST: Luxia Jiang … Ar
Wah Yuen … Mung
Chrissie Chow … Max
Siu-hou Chin … Lung
Pinky Cheung … So