The first Mr. Vampire film was a huge success in Hong Kong and some other Asian territories, which meant a sequel was inevitable. More than just one follow-up was made though, with the original film spawning three official sequels, a couple of unofficial ones and numerous rip-offs and imitators.

Like the In the Line of Duty series, the Mr. Vampire films have no real relation to each other other than their titles and the fact they have ghosts and/or vampires in them. They often share cast members too but they show up as different characters each time.

Mr. Vampire went down well in the West too, prompting Golden Harvest to attempt an English language version that, probably thankfully, was never completed. Strangely enough though, despite this fact, the Mr. Vampire sequels never got much of a release in the West.

Praise be to Eureka then, who are finally bringing UK Mr. Vampire fans what they’ve wanted for decades, a decent release of the series sequels (joined by one of the unofficial sequels, Vampire vs Vampire). The set is called Hopping Mad: The Mr Vampire Sequels and I got hold of a copy to share my thoughts.

Mr. Vampire II (a.k.a. Vampire Family or Geung see ga zuk)

Director: Ricky Lau
Screenplay: Barry Wong
Starring: Lam Ching-Ying, Yuen Biao, Chung Fat, Billy Lau, Moon Lee, Woo Fung
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 89 min
Year: 1986

Mr. Vampire II (a.k.a. Vampire Family or Geung see ga zuk) takes a wholly different approach than its predecessor, jumping forward to the present day where a group of treasure-hunting ‘archaeologists’, led by Professor Kwok (Chung Fat), ransack an old tomb. Rather than gold or gems, however, they bring back a family of Qing dynasty corpses that have been perfectly preserved.

Of course, the bodies end up being a trio of hopping vampires (or jiāngshī) which cause chaos for the Professor and his two assistants. First off, the young boy vampire (Ho Kin-Wai) escapes and ends up hiding in a family’s shed. His vampire parents, meanwhile, try their best to drink the blood of the archaeologists.

One of the assistants, Chicken (Billy Lau), goes to get a bite looked at by Dr Lam Ching-ying (played by, er, Lam Ching-Ying from the first Mr. Vampire). The doctor is also a supernatural expert, so recognises the bite and follows Chicken to the Professor’s workshop. He’s accompanied by his daughter Gigi (Moon Lee) and her boyfriend Yen (Yuen Biao), providing yet more targets for the hungry vampires.

Whilst the six of them contend with the adult vampires, the young vampire boy befriends the two children living in the home he’s hiding out in. The brother and sister, who mistake him for an illegal immigrant, try their best to hide their new buddy from their father.

When looking up the films in this set online, Mr. Vampire II got the weakest reviews of the four films everywhere I looked. As such, my expectations were low but, I must say, I enjoyed it a great deal. It’s Frank Djeng’s favourite film in the series too, so I’m not alone in appreciating this more unusual entry, though personally, I wouldn’t say it was the best of the four titles here.

I can see why not everyone would go for it, as the bits with the kids are very corny and these, added to the modern setting, make it quite a leap from the first and subsequent films in the series.

The film is extremely silly too, but I thought much of the physical comedy was very well conceived and executed. The bits with the ‘retarder’ liquid that causes everyone, including the vampires, to move in slow motion had me in stitches. It’s a film with very little downtime too, so it’s a lot of fun to watch, even if it is bafflingly ridiculous at times. Let’s face it though, that’s all part of the charm of the Mr. Vampire films, particularly for Western viewers less attuned to the unusual traditions and superstitions on display (though producer Sammo Hung and his cohorts are known to have made a lot of stuff up for the films).

E.T. clearly influenced the scenes with the kids befriending the young ghost. Numerous gags and set pieces pay homage to it too (or rip it off, depending on your point of view). These sequences won’t be for everyone but, I must admit, I did find them amusingly daft and surprisingly sweet in places.

Overall, Mr. Vampire II may not be as well-rounded and exciting as the first film in the series and it gets very silly and bizarrely sentimental but that didn’t stop me from having a whole lot of fun.


Mr. Vampire III (a.k.a. Ling wan sin sang)

Director: Ricky Lau
Screenplay: Lo Wing-Keung, Szeto Cheuk-Hon
Starring: Lam Ching-Ying, Richard Ng, Billy Lau, Lui Fong, Pauline Yuk-Wan Wong, Pan Yun-Sheng, Ho Kin-Wai
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 93 min
Year: 1987

The Chinese title, Ling wan sin sang, which translates as ‘Mr Supernatural’, is a much better moniker for Mr. Vampire III, as there aren’t any hopping vampires here, just a lot of ghosts and some evil sorcerers.

It opens with Taoist priest Mao Ming (Richard Ng) initially working with his two ghost friends (David Lui and young Ho Kin-Wai, who also played the young vampire in the previous film) to fleece a wealthy landowner out of his money. However, when a large family of less friendly spirits show up he flees.

Ming ends up in a new town where he meets Master Gau (Lam Ching-Ying), a talented Taoist priest who, along with his students, is locked in battle against a group of black-magic-practising horse thieves.

Admiring Gau’s skills and taking his advice, Ming decides to send his ghost companions away and carry on by himself. However, after capturing two of the horse thieves, Gau and his school come under attack from the group’s evil sorceress (Pauline Yuk-Wan Wong). This puts Ming and Gau’s skills at staving off the spirits of the undead to the test.

This short, simple synopsis does little justice to the wonderfully bizarre controlled chaos of Mr. Vampire III. Not only does the film return to the period setting of the first film in the series but it, once again, revels in the strange rituals, tricks and weapons used to fight off ghosts and black magic, both from Chinese traditions and the minds of writers Lo Wing-Keung and Szeto Cheuk-Hon. There may not actually be any vampires in the film but it certainly feels like a closer spiritual (pun intended) successor to Mr. Vampire than part 2.

All the crazy ghost-fighting antics also give a great excuse to showcase the considerable physical comedy talents of the late, great Richard Ng, as well as series regular Lam Ching-Ying. Every set piece is a sheer joy to behold, both the action scenes and otherwise.

The film is notably darker and more violent than the second film too, presumably to help draw back audiences who weren’t quite as enamoured with its family-friendly spin (Mr. Vampire II did quite well at the box office but not as well as the first or third films). That said, Mr. Vampire III is still very comic in tone and has some poignant moments between Ng and his ghost buddies. It just avoids the more E.T.-inspired child-led sequences and throws in some gore and genuine scares here and there.

As with the previous film, which was lensed by Arthur Wong, there’s a top cinematographer behind the camera, with the great Andrew Lau (director of the Infernal Affairs trilogy) down as DOP. He and director Ricky Lau craft a wonderfully atmospheric film that makes great use of smoke and coloured lighting. There are also a lot of VFX used here for the various magical weapons and such. These hardly look realistic but I have a great love of these colourful retro optical effects.

Billy Lau’s character annoyed me to begin with and he’s responsible for the one brief section of the film where I lost interest, but I grew to accept his very broad performance and obnoxious character as the film went on. The rest of the cast makes up for it anyway and, otherwise, the film fires on all cylinders throughout.

I could go into more detail about all the madcap shenanigans that had me laughing out loud throughout Mr. Vampire III but I think it’s best to go in blind so I’ll say no more. The film takes the series back to its roots but has plenty of tricks up its long sleeves to deliver a hugely entertaining and inventive romp.


Mr. Vampire Saga IV (a.k.a. Uncle Vampire or Geung see suk suk)

Director: Ricky Lau
Screenplay: Lo Wing-Keung
Starring: Anthony Chan, Wu Ma, Chin Kar Lok, Loletta Lee, Yuen Wah, Chung Fat
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 96 min
Year: 1988

Mr. Vampire Saga IV (a.k.a. Uncle Vampire or Geung see suk suk) is another period offering, this time set in the countryside, where the strict ‘Four-eyed Taoist’ (Anthony Chan) clashes with his Buddhist priest neighbour Yat-Yau (Wu Ma). Four-eyes’ pupil Chia-Lok (Kar Lok Chin) tries to keep the peace, whilst attempting to get on the better side of Yat-Yau’s female student, Ching-Ching (Loletta Lee), after embarrassing himself on first meeting her.

The battles between the two priests are halted when a royal convoy passes by, carrying both a young prince and a vampire on its way to be inspected by the curious emperor.

A Taoist priest and a group of soldiers escorting the convoy seem to have things in hand when they first drop by Four-eyes’ house for some provisions. However, a storm later that night breaks the vampire loose and gives him increased powers. This results in a horde of hungry hopping vampires that head towards Four-eyes, Yat-Yau and co.

Mr. Vampire Saga IV is very much a tale of two halves. The royal convoy doesn’t make an appearance until pretty much bang on halfway, meaning the whole first half of the film is given up to the daft bickering and prank-heavy fighting between the two priests, rather than any vampire fighting. This portion does have an excellent corpse-transporting sequence and ensuing fox-spirit fight but, otherwise, it’s just a series of comedy skits. Granted, there’s some decent physical comedy in play and a few effective gags, but it doesn’t do enough to forward the narrative to keep you interested. Plus some of the jokes are groan-worthy or dated.

When the second half kicks in, it’s a whole different story. The film gets a big energy boost, with a great deal of threat and plenty of martial arts, or at least fight-heavy action. Everyone gets a chance to show their skills, with even Loletta Lee kicking *rse and taking the hits alongside the men. With the ‘shacks in the woods’ setting and the mix of comedy and horror featuring intense undead antagonists, there’s very much an Evil Dead II vibe here. That film came out before this but I’d be surprised if Sam Raimi wasn’t inspired by the first Mr. Vampire film.

Vampire vs Vampire still manages to be pretty goofy in its more action-heavy second half. For instance, there’s a ridiculous sequence where Four-eyes gains super Taoist powers that literally inflate his muscles. I felt the jokes here were an improvement though, as they were better integrated into the story.

The portrayal of Officer Wu (Yuen Wah), a eunuch servant of the young prince, won’t go down well with more socially conscious modern viewers, with Wah over-egging his character’s effeminate side. Wu isn’t an entirely grotesque character though. He’s given a little depth through his dedication to protecting the prince.

So, whilst I found the first half lacking in vampires or a compelling story (plus where’s Lam Ching-Ying!), the second half more than makes up for it, delivering an action-packed, tense and still pretty funny undead extravaganza.


Vampire vs Vampire (a.k.a. Yi mei dao ren)

Director: Lam Ching-Ying
Screenplay: Chan Kam Cheong, Shum Chi-Leung, Sze Mei-Yee
Starring: Lam Ching-Ying, Chin Siu-Ho, Lui Fong, Maria Cordero, Billy Lau, Sandra Kwan Yue Ng, Jing Wang Lam
Country: Hong Kong
Running Time: 86 min
Year: 1989

Vampire vs Vampire (a.k.a. Yi mei dao ren) is not officially a sequel to Mr. Vampire but, being produced by Golden Harvest and bringing Lam Ching-Ying back to both star and direct (the first of only two stints behind the camera), it’s very much a spiritual successor to the four films.

Lam plays ‘One-Eyebrow Priest’ (they don’t mince words in Hong Kong), a Taoist who looks after the dead of the area with his two disciples, Ah Ho (Chin Siu-ho) and Ah Fong (Fong Lui), with a little added assistance from a mischievous vampire child (Jing Wang Lam).

When asked to check the feng shui of the local vicinity, due to the ill fortunes of the region, One-Eyebrow discovers the water source has been polluted. Whilst investigating further and trying to find an alternative water source, he comes across a church run by a Western missionary Mother Superior (Maria Cordero). The local general (Billy Lau) believes this to be the source of the pollution, due to a bat problem, and threatens to burn the church down. One-Eybrow talks the general out of it but, when it’s found that the church is housing a vampire (Frank Juhas), perhaps he shouldn’t have stood in the general’s way.

So, the priest has to jump into action to stop not only the head vampire but also the general’s cousin (Sandra Kwan Yue Ng), who is turned into a blood-sucker herself.

I thought this was a nice mix of everything I enjoy about the series. For one, there are plenty of new tricks used to help defeat the vampires (many of which don’t work against the Western creature, in a new twist). This has always been a great pleasure of the series for me and Vampire vs Vampire doesn’t disappoint in this aspect.

There’s also a healthy dose of action and horror. Lam, Chin Siu-ho and Fong Lui all get a chance to show off their moves in their fights. There are some genuinely creepy and intense sequences too. Granted, it’s hardly The Shining, but the film does put you on edge in places.

There’s still plenty of humour too and the gags here are pretty effective. As with all the films in the set and in Hong Kong cinema of the era in general, the humour can be pretty base and doesn’t always translate to modern Western audiences, but there’s still fun to be had in the hijinks on screen.

There’s even some of the sentimental, family-friendly side of Mr. Vampire II here again in the inclusion of the child vampire. His scenes are less cloying this time around but it still makes for an odd tonal mix among the otherwise quite intense and occasionally bloody vampire-fighting scenes.

This regular shifting of tones won’t be to everyone’s tastes but most fans of Asian cinema will be used to it and it’s actually one of the things I enjoy about genre films from the continent. The curious blend is reflected in the narrative though, which is a little overstuffed and messy.

Overall, I thought Vampire vs Vampire was a fun, well-rounded end to the set with healthy dollops of goofy humour, some decent martial arts and bonkers set pieces. Granted, the jokes don’t always hit the mark and the story is a bit all over the place but, like the other films in the set, it’s a pleasure to watch.


Hopping Mad: The Mr Vampire Sequels is out on 21st May on Blu-Ray in the UK, released by Eureka as part of their Eureka Classics series. All four films look fantastic, with rich, bold colours, sharp details and a super clean, natural-looking picture. Vampire vs Vampire is a touch softer than the other titles but it still looks very nice. Please note, the images used in this review are only publicity stills, so don’t reflect the picture quality of the Blu-rays. You get Cantonese mono audio on all films, as well as an optional English dub on Mr. Vampire II and a Cantonese ‘home video mix’ on Vampire vs Vampire. I found no issues with the Cantonese tracks.


– Limited Edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling [2000 copies]
– Mr Vampire II and Mr Vampire III presented in 1080p HD from brand new 2K restorations
– Mr Vampire Saga IV and Vampire vs Vampire presented in 1080p HD from brand new HD restorations
– Cantonese audio (original mono presentations) on all films
– Alternate English dubbed audio track for Mr Vampire II
– Optional English Subtitles for all films, newly translated for this release
– Brand new feature-length audio commentaries on Mr Vampire II and Vampire vs Vampire by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
– Brand new feature-length audio commentaries on Mr Vampire III and Mr Vampire IV by action cinema experts Mike Leeder & Arne Venema
– Brand new feature-length audio commentary on Mr Vampire III by Asian film expert Frank Djeng and film writer John Charles (The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977–1997)
– Brand new video piece on the history and resurgent popularity of the jiangshi genre, featuring an interview with a real Taoist priest
– Brand new video piece which examines the rituals portrayed in the Mr Vampire series and how some are still practised in modern-day Hong Kong
– Reversible sleeve featuring original poster art
– Trailers
– A Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films and the Jiangshi genre by James Oliver [2000 copies]

Frank Djeng, as usual, has really done his homework and delivers a fast-paced commentary for Mr. Vampire II that’s crammed with interesting facts about everyone involved in the film.

Mike Leeder and Arne Venema’s commentary for Mr. Vampire III is also loaded with interesting facts about the cast and crew, whilst the pair have fun watching the film. There’s a poignant touch in the track too, where they talk about Richard Ng currently having health problems and they send their love to him. Little did they know he would pass away in the time between recording the commentary and the disc being released.

John Charles joins Djeng to talk about Mr. Vampire III. This gives a more conversational style to Djeng’s typically loaded track. As usual, on top of discussing the cast and crew, he explains some of the unusual cultural elements and gags that might go over the heads of most Westerners.

Leeder and Venema return on part IV with another engrossing and enjoyable track. Much like the other, it’s loaded with fascinating tidbits about those involved in the film and some of the pair’s stories of their lives in Hong Kong, particularly of Leeder’s work in the region’s film industry.

Djeng is back by himself on the track for Vampire vs Vampire and once again digs deep into the backgrounds of everyone involved in the film. I dread to think how much time he spends researching these commentaries.

The overview piece on the jiangshi genre features an interview with an actual Taoist priest. He gives a fascinating and occasionally quite amusing account of which rituals and signatures in the films are accurate and which aren’t. He even discusses why they were shown to ‘hop’ in films. The piece is quite funkily presented too with plenty of split-screen effects and a danceable soundtrack, which makes it slicker than a lot of featurettes.

Similarly nicely put together, the ‘Vampire Legacy’ featurette is a fun little extra that looks at how the Mr. Vampire films have inspired popular culture. We’re shown toys, clothing brands and novelty effigy makers who were inspired by the franchise. At the end, we also hear from Mike Chan, who appears as the Vampire King in the film Sifu vs Vampire, which was inspired by the Mr. Vampire series.

There are also a couple of deleted scenes included from Mr. Vampire II. The first is a daft conversation between the kids and their father which is hardly a sad loss from the film. The second is an alternative, extended version of the musical montage with the kid vampire. It has some quite amusing added skits, which I enjoyed.

The booklet mainly consists of an essay by James Oliver, who takes us through the history of the Mr. Vampire franchise and its imitators. It’s an interesting piece that even points out some political commentary touched upon in a couple of the films.

So, it’s another first-class Hong Kong genre movie Blu-ray release from Eureka, that comes very highly recommended. The sequels might not quite match the quality of Mr. Vampire itself but each one has merit and it’s an immensely enjoyable batch of films to work through.


Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels - Eureka
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Editor of films and videos as well as of this site. On top of his passion for film, he also has a great love for music and his family.

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