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(Review originally written at 15 October 2006)

Guess this movie is a case of; you'll either love it or hate it. A vampire movie set in China, combined with Kung Fu elements might definitely not be just everyone's cup of tea. It's an highly unusual mixture of different genre elements, with as a result an highly unusual and original Hammer movie. I just love how the movie combines the different elements and how it works out in the movie.

By right this movie can definitely been seen as a Kung Fu movie, rather than an horror. The movie is filled with many spectacular and great choreographed fighting sequences and most definitely lays its emphasis on the action rather than the story or horror themes of the movie. The movie is also made from the period when Asian Kung Fu movies were popular in the West. Hammer tried to jump on the bandwagon with making this movie. It's an unique experiment from the Hammer studio's that might shock/disappoint some Hammer fans but pleasantly surprise others as well, such as me.

The movie is shot entirely on location in Hong Kong, which definitely helps to set the right mood and atmosphere. Most Hammer movies are usually studio work, so in that way it already makes this movie an unique one.

Like most Roy Ward Baker movies, the movie and its sequences are very well build up. It provides the movie with some unforgettable and impressive sequences and moments. The story on its own is to be fair not really that impressive or even clear enough but the build up and style of it all is great. So yes, the movie is definitely a case of style over substance but in this particular case, I really didn't mind.

Normally Peter Cushing is an enrichment for every Hammer movie. However in this case I'm not too sure about it if his character Van Helsing was completely required. After all, this is a Kung Fu movie. No place for Van Helsing's wooden stake here.

The movie might at first seem a Dracula movie but in fact the character of Dracula plays a very little part in the movie, only at the beginning and the end. No wonder Christopher Lee declined this movie. The real main villains of the movie are the 6 vampire warriors. The one's that try to stop them are Van Helsing and his son, a rich noble woman and a family of Kung Fu experts, who each have their own specialty and weapons (a bow, knives, swords, etc.). The movie is basically a traveling movie in which every now and then they are being attacked. It does make this movie a rather simple one but it perhaps is this same simplicity that makes this movie such a lovable and great one to watch.

The fight sequences are truly awesome and amazingly choreographed and brought to the screen. The sequences however last a bit too long and there also are a bit too many of those sequences present to keep the movie entirely original and surprising. This is perhaps my only beef with the movie.

I would love to see a Quentin Tarantino remake of this movie.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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