Vampire Effect

Vampire Effect (2003)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ekin Cheng, Anthony Wong, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung
Extras: Trailer

Just as American horror films have degraded into mostly brainless, dim-witted teenie assaults in recent years, Hong Kong horror films have also changed form. While they are not quite as hard trying to be hip – meaning they are not insulting us with the Cro-Magnon body language of US films – they have nonetheless become a bit more cheesy and perhaps shallow in recent years. Dante Lam’s ’Vampire Effect’ is an example for such a new-age horror film form Hong Kong, walking the thin line of trying to scare while also catering to a teenage audience. Using Jackie Chan, Ekin Cheng and, of course, Anthony Wong as star vehicles the film should attract traditionalists to the movie, while the two feisty main stars of the film, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, should be fresh enough to attract younger audiences. In many respects the formula works. Although ’Vampire Effect’ is very cheesy and ridiculous at times, it also gets a lot of things right, such as some of the dark, atmospheric moments of the movie and the martial arts action.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is presenting ’Vampire Effect’ in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio on this DVD in a transfer that is up to par with what you would expect. Being a new movie, the image is without flaws and exhibits a good level of definition that is mostly free of grain. Colors are powerfully rendered but never over-saturated. As a result the movie’s atmospheric cinematography is wonderfully restored, adding to the appeal of the overall film. The compression is also without flaws, making ’Vampire Effect’ a solid showing.

The DVD features the original Cantonese audio track in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital as well as an English dub. I did not concern myself with the dub much, as I just can’t stand the superficial voice acting. The Cantonese track is very active and makes good use of the surround channels, bombarding the viewer from all directions during its action sequences. The frequency response is wide with good bass roll-off and clear high ends. The wide dynamic range helps to give the track the punch it needs to drive home the action whiles also being transparent enough to reproduce the most subtle moments.

No mentionable extras are included on the release.

Asian horror films are a very different breed from Western ones, but if you enjoy the genre, ’Vampire Effect’ may be an interesting choice, especially if you meet the movie’s target demographics of 18 to 25 or so.