Shaolin vs. Evil Dead
Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Douglas Kung.

A new hopping vampire film primarily for the U.S. market, expressly designed to piggy-back on the appearance of Gordon Liu in KILL BILL. Presumably producers hoped that viewers of KILL BILL would be curious about Liu, and wonder about how he became so famous, and then, because it is so readily available and has such a cool cover, accidentally buy this film instead of one of his old classic Shaolin films, and so a sucker and his money are quickly parted. This film is not really any good, but at least production values on Hong Kong direct-to-video releases are increasing. Unfortunately, though, producers have also decided to mimic KILL BILL's structure by making this film a two-parter, to be concluded in SHAOLIN VS. EVIL DEAD: ULTIMATE POWER. But instead of ending at least this part, the film just suddenly stops cold with no resolution, then proceeds to show what appear to be all the good bits of the upcoming sequel during the end credits.

Good sifu (Gordon Liu) tries to help wandering spirits find reincarnation, while bad sifu (Fan Siu-Wong) generally opts for dispersing them and destroying them forever. These wandering spirits take the form of zombies, who look upon the hopping vampires with jealousy, as the vampires are being taken to proper burials, whereas the zombies have been left in unmarked mass graves.

There are kid vampires and cute zombies galore in this film, which is never a good thing, but at least these kids seem to have some kung fu training, and the highlight of the film is their "phantom chess" game, between child hopping vampires and cut-out paper monks. Without a proper ending, however, the film reaches no satisfying conclusion nor emotional nor physical climax. Most of the action takes place in a constantly recycled teahouse set, further reducing viewer interest, and the martial arts action is fairly subdued. I don't think Gordon Liu even breaks a sweat during the entire running time.

Rating: Not Recommended (Not Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on September 19, 2007.

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