Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters (Era of Vampire, The) (2002)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Aug-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 85:56
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Wellson Chin
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Ken Chang
Michael Chow
Suet Lam
Chan Kwok Kwan
Anya Yu rong Guang
Horace Lee War Shing
Case ?
RPI ? Music J.M. Logan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Dutch
Portuguese
Arabic
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Norwegian
Polish
Serbian
Slovenian
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Forget what you thought you knew about the Vampire myth. Vampires were formerly Zombies, who developed a taste for human flesh and transformed from the walking dead into the fanged creatures we are familiar with. Sounds silly? It is.

    This story is a stretch of the Vampire mythos, and very hard to follow on the first viewing. Our four Vampire hunters are named Wind, Thunder, Rain and Lightning - a band of seventeenth century warriors who spend their time seeking out Zombies or Vampires for a bit of sword fighting action. Not a bad way to keep fit, mind you. When they come across the grave of the Vampire King an epic battle ensues, and their enigmatic leader goes missing. With the intention of further investigating the presence of undead activity, the four lads take on servants positions under the wealthy Jiang family, who appear to be harbouring some bizarre secrets of their own.

    The Jiang family are renowned for preserving their dead in wax - like having your very own personal Madame Tussaud's in your basement. Our four heroes soon become involved in an attempt by a local mobster to relieve the Jiang family of their riches, which are reportedly kept hidden somewhere in their fortress. But the Vampire King returns, throwing everything into chaos and our heroes must defeat the Vampire King, save the beautiful girl and stop a multitude of the Jiang's ancestors who are returning from the dead. A Vampire Hunter's job is never done!

    This is a good, fun film from Tsui Hark - who is only acting as a writer and producer for this project. There is some very beautiful direction from Wellson Chin and the quirky humour we have come to expect from Hong Kong films is definitely present.

    This film contains some of the best sword fighting I have seen since The Iceman Cometh - the battle scenes, special effects and choreography are second to none. For pure Hong Kong action, fans of the genre cannot go past this film.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Aside from some grain, this is a good video transfer effort.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    There is a fair degree of sharpness present in the transfer, clearly evident in the many facial close-ups and detailed forest scenes. Black levels are solid and consistent during the many dimly lit night-time scenes, and shadow detail proved to be impressive. I didn't detect any low level noise.

    This isn't the kind of film you want to watch for big, bold splashes of colour. Apart from some fire and the odd red lantern, many of the scenes are dark and even those rare well-lit moments of the film aren't particularly colourful.

    I didn't notice any signs of MPEG artefacting or over-compression. There were some very mild instances of aliasing, however these were of a very minor nature and were not worth worrying about. Film artefacting doesn't extend beyond some noticeable grain (57:20) and some very slight telecine wobble during the opening credits, but these aren't too distracting.

    There are a lot of subtitle options on this disc, which is a good thing. The English subtitles were paced well with the Cantonese dialogue, and though I cannot speak for their accuracy they were very easy to read - a thin white font with a slight black outline.

    There is no layer transition on this single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks available on this disc; English, Chinese and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). The English dub is the default audio track. I listened to both the English and Cantonese tracks in their entirety for this review.

    The spoken word was always easy to understand in the English track, particularly during the intense action scenes. One issue that did get on my nerves during the American dub was the use of Mexican accents for the bad guys and bandits, and though it only lasted for a few scenes I found these characters ridiculously overacted and hammy to the extreme. Some may argue that this makes these characters more comedic, however I don't recall laughing at the same characters during the Chinese audio track, so this cannot be the intention of the writer. I believe this is a simple case of Americanised stereotyping, the kind of which I thought had died out aeons ago.

    Although I do not speak Cantonese, the film's original language track had some far superior vocal characterisations and was much more entertaining to listen to. One would expect that the film's intended language would lend itself to good audio sync, however this is far from the case in this instance. The Cantonese ADR and lip-syncing is very poor indeed. A good example of this is at 16:50, although it is a painfully recurring issue throughout the entire film.

    The original score by J.M. Logan is very clever and flows almost unrecognisably with the film, building towards the action scenes and carrying us through the calmer moments in the film without ever overpowering the action on-screen or making itself too obvious.

    Surround activity was consistent between both the English and Chinese audio tracks. From subtle atmospheric sounds to thunder and lightning and even some panning of vocals to the rears at 12:40 and 47:48, this was an exciting and immersive experience.

    The subwoofer was used very well throughout the film, accentuating thunder, explosions, battle scenes and sorcery with great effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The 16x9 enhanced menus are static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer (1:20)

    Presented without 16x9 enhancement, this contains an American voiceover that gives a basic outline of the film's plot, highlighting the action and swordplay.

Additional Trailer (1:52)

    A promotional piece for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie that introduces the main characters from the series. This trailer is presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    We appear to have received a clone of the recent Region 2 release - even the menus are identical. The Region 1 release contains a French Dolby Surround track and no extras.

Summary

    Vampire Hunters is a great action flick, and is even more enjoyable if you are able to put your brain into neutral for an hour and a half and let it go. Any fan of the Hong Kong action genre will love this film.

    The video transfer is very clear and sharp.

    The audio transfer is very good, although the lip-sync on the Chinese track is almost as bad as the English dub, and that is no exaggeration.

    The only extra is a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - DanielP

Comments (Add) NONE