Movie Reviews 208 – Vampire Effect (2003)

Vampire EffectJackie Chan has been a fairly big name in both Hollywood and Asian cinema for a long time, and most people of know of, if not have seen most of his movies. He’s even popular enough that English speaking audiences are also familiar with some of his older Chinese movies like Drunken Master and few others. So I did not know what to make of a Vampire movie featuring Jackie that I’d never heard of.

Vampire Effect (also known as The Twins Effect) is one of those movies where Jackie only plays a small role but capitalizes on his marquee name as a marketing ploy. He’s only got a few minutes of screen time, but I’ll give him credit in that those few scant moments are chock full of the Chan Charm.

Now, lets get on and discuss the other Chan-less 78 minutes of the movie. The stars are Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung but why they are listed in the starring roles was for a time as mysterious as that Twins alternate title. Not that they have small roles or anything, but the other male stars were noticeably absent from the billing.

Reeve (Ekin Cheng) is a vampire hunter who acquires a new sidekick Gypsy (Chung), much to the chagrin of his sister Helen (Choi). Helen is no seasoned vampire fighter but engages in a constant ‘vamp’ battle of wits and one-upmanship (or should that be one-upwomanship) with her brother’s new fighting partner.

At the same time as Gypsy comes onto the scene, one of the last ‘Royal’ vampires, Kazay  (Edison Chen), and his entourage have taken refuge in a local church of all places. That isn’t the only unvampirelike behavior Kazay exhibits, opting to drink blood from a glass instead of necks and decking out his uber-cool coffin with all the latest electronic gadgetry, lights and sounds. Kazay and his protective servants are on the run from another powerful duke vampire who wants to kill the remaining royal so that he can reign supreme.

In the mean time as Kazay enjoys the more human lifestyle he falls for Helen which puts the royal vampire and hunters into an awkward situation. The only constant is that they all want the the vicious duke and his clan to die.

Co-directed by Donnie Yen (yes the Ip Man himself) and Dante Lam, it’s a quaint light comedy with plenty of action, although there isn’t much novelty to the action sequences or the story itself which is why the inclusion of Chan scenes are particularly welcome. Chan plays a man desperately trying to get through a marriage ceremony . Even better is the short performance of Chan’s newlywed wife to be, played hilariously by Karen Mok (of Shaolin Soccer fame).

So why is the movie more commonly known as The Twins Effect when there aren’t any twins in the movie? The answer, which also explains that star billing placement, lies in the fact that the stars Choi and Chung are better known as the Asian singing pop duo The Twins. No, don’t worry, there aren’t any song or dance routines here. On second thought maybe that’s what the movie needed to put it over the top.

Sadly what made this movie noteworthy in Asia is the scandal that followed when leaked personal photos found on Edison Chen’s computer made it’s way to the internet starting of with compromising pictures of Gillian followed by those of many more starlets. The repercussions of the scandal rocked the Asian movie industry as well as that of establishment news and newspaper industries dealing with one of the early privacy-vs-newsworthyness boundary conflicts. In the end, that’s were the real society horrors were revealed and subverted any horror in a silly movie. And here I thought I was just watching a simple vampire flick.

And one last interesting tidbit. Both Charlene Choi and Edison Chen are Vancouver born. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if the scandal featured the only two Canadians in the movie. Betcha everyone here would have heard about this particular “Jackie Chan” then, eh!

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