Crazy Safari
Hong Kong 1991
Directed by Billy Chan Wui-Ngai.

A hopping vampire falls out of a plane, and lands in South Africa, where a little bushman discovers it, and is not sure what to do. Sure is a hell of a lot more confusing than that Coke bottle was, that's for sure.

Crazy Safari is one unbelievable film. The film is sometimes referred to as The Gods Must Be Crazy 3, being the third in a series of films about the African bushman, N!xau. If you haven't seen The Gods Must Be Crazy yet, then you should go to your local video store and rent it or buy it first. It tells the simple story of N!xau, a bushman, who gets hit on the head by a Coca-Cola bottle which falls out of an airplane. He has never seen such a wonderous object before, and takes it back to his village. Before long, they decide that it is bad luck, and N!xau must journey to the end of the world to throw it off a cliff and be rid of it forever. It's a simple, sweet film, the bushmen all speak in their native tongue, and a narrator explains their actions. The sequel has N!xau's children get into a relief truck by mistake, and N!xau has to follow the truck on foot through very new and uncertain territory to rescue them. It's really just more of the same, by the same crew, still entertaining but perhaps not quite as much so as the original.

Then, comes Crazy Safari. Only an evil genius could think up a movie that mixes The Gods Must Be Crazy with Mr. Vampire, apparently Billy Chan fits the bill. Hi Sing (Action priest extraordinaire Lam Ching-Ying) and his nephew Leo (Sam Christopher Chan) are at an auction in London to pick up Leo's grandfather, who happens to be the next item up for bid. He also happens to be a vampire, because he has died overseas and has not been properly returned to China and buried. Hi Sing animates the corpse, closing out the bidding. He carefully leads the vampire outside of the auction house, where there is a massive costume party going on (the Notting Hill carnivale, which takes place every year in late summer, coinciding with the Chinese Ghost Festival days). The vampire and the priest get seperated, and before you know it, the vampire is getting robbed by three thugs. They would've gotten away with it too, if only they didn't try to steal the yellow talisman from off of the vampire's forehead.

Hi Sing finally relocates grandfather, and they board a plane to Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the compass on the plane isn't working properly, and they're running out of gas. Not even Hi Sing's feng-shui compass can point them in the right direction. Everyone has to bail out, but not before the pilot puts forth his best effort to win the coveted overacting gwailo award.

On the ground, we are introduced to N!xau. He finds a jeep full of captive women, whom he frees, inciting the wrath of the slavers -- a group of Zulu warriors led by a British woman in the most ridiculous hat I have ever seen. The vampire falls out of the sky and lands in the middle of all of this, and, defying all Vampire movie logic, with the yellow talisman still attached to its forehead. It's really amazing. Usually, those talismans flutter away if someone so much as closes a door too quickly. But here this one is, still attached after a fall from an airplane. The vampire ends up helping N!xau, in a way, so N!xau, after quickly mastering the art of Vampire maintenance, takes it back to the village, where the kids play with it and it becomes a part of the tribe.

When the Chinese Vampire was first introduced in movies like Encounter of the Spooky Kind, it was a thing to be feared. By Crazy Safari, it has made the transition all classic monsters make -- from Frightening Creature to Friend to Children. Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf man, they all get diluted over time. Familiarity breeds affection. The Chinese teen hopping vampire basketball movies come next.

Hi Sing and Leo, after bailing out of the airplane, land some distance away from the vampire. They must travel through the African veldt, encountering lions, baboons, elephants, ostriches, and one obnoxiously fake rhinocerous that stomps out fires (as seen in the first movie) in order to find their lost grandfather.

When Hi Sing and Leo finally reach N!xau's village, the story slows down, though not quite sags, as they become part of the village. A series of small adventures befall them and they become closer and closer to N!xau and his people. Particularly amusing, and no doubt most realistic, was Hi Sing's desperate attempt to get some toilet paper and find a peaceful, private place to take a crap. He also spends some time teaching N!xau kung-fu.

Eventually, the british woman and her ridiculous hat return, and this time she brings a Zulu shaman with his very own Zombie. Its shaman vs. priest, zombie vs. vampire, and the bushmen vs. the Zulus. Hi Sing calls upon Taoist magic to possess a person with another's spirit, so Leo becomes, for a moment, a Baboon. And N!xau? He becomes possessed with the spirit of Bruce Lee. It must be seen to be believed, at it will leave you laughing out loud. There are a lot of fun suprises in Crazy Safari, and for light, simple entertainment, you can't go wrong. The movie is narrated by Stephen Chow and Ng Man-Tat, who are a delightful comedy team. Unfortunately, the copy I saw of this film did not have subtitles in english, so I can't say whether their commentary adds any value to the film as a whole. I'm guessing it does fill in the blanks a bit and adds a bit more humor. But even without english, it's an entertaining movie. Besides, if I ever see a copy with subtitles, that would be just the excuse I need to sit down and watch it again.

This wasn't the end for N!xau, either. He went on to star in a fourth movie, believe it or not, called The Gods Must Be Crazy in China, released in the late nineties. In that film, N!xau travels to Hong Kong to help a team of city folks train for the Iron Man Tournament. Of course, he teaches them how to survive, live off the land, and so on. But it just doesn't have the same fun spirit as this one.

Rating: Highly Recommended (Highly Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 29, 2004.


It isnt called Crazy Safari

Posted by: Frank at April 1, 2009 08:01 PM
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