Directed by Len Kabasinski.
2007, Not Rated, 96 minutes.
James C. Nickels
It is finally Halloween. It’s also the bittersweet end to 31 consecutive days spent in horror flick captivity. To commemorate the occasion, I figured I’d go out with something totally nutty. Since I have plenty of odd cinematic excursions in my own collection I started by searching there.
Fist of the Vampire.
Okay…before I get into this, let me get my mind right.
Deep breath in…big exhale. Again. Okay, now I’m good.
Let’s start with our hero, Lee (Anthony). He’s a detective whose request for transfer has just come through. When he get to his new duty station he is promptly assigned an undercover gig to infiltrate an underground fight club. In addition to people beating the crap out of each other there is suspected to be, of course, lots of gambling, illicit drugs and possibly some prostitution. Instead of posing as a prospective gambler as suggested by his boss, our knight in shining armor decides to go in as a potential fighter. Okay, fine. Do things your way, Mr. Hero. Anyhoo, he finds out what we already know: Brad Pitt and Edward Norton are really…oh, wait. Wrong movie. What Lee really discovers is that this particular fight club is ran by a trio of vampires who, in addition to being crooks, occasionally dine on the talent. Bad. Movie. Heaven.
Everything about this movie is horrendous, amazing, or both at the same time. The fight scenes epitomize this. Whenever one starts up, which is quite often, some heart pounding music kicks in. Good stuff. Our combatants are full of vigor. Good stuff. The fight choreography is nothing special, but passable. Good stuff considering I didn’t expect Sammo Hung quality. Unfortunately, the execution of that choreography is hilariously bad. I mean, you see the same moves you’ve seen in hundreds of other movies, but with pauses between them. Often, instead of a punch being blocked as it is being thrown, a fighter throw the punch then leave his/her arm extended for a second or so until their opponent reaches up to block the punch. I really can’t tell you how much laughter this gave me.
Visual effects are another example of how good and terrible this movie is. The movie opens in 1977, by the way, before transitioning to “present day.” During these opening scenes, the filmmakers made a concerted effort to make it look like a 70s flick. The color is a little more washed out and they superimposed some grain onto the screen to make it look like old school film stock. I was genuinely impressed. Vampire related gore is also a plus. Throats are ripped open pretty good. Granted, it looks as if they got everything they needed for these scenes from the Halloween section at Party City, but they did a pretty solid job with it. Then there are gun related effects. Oh man, is this bad. Superimposing grain for the 1977 scenes works. Doing the same with cartoon splatters and flashes of light does not. It doesn't help that the actors often poke out their guns in an exaggerated manner as they shoot. No one in real life who has any experience with firearms does this. Yes, this incites more laughter.
I could go on listing things that sorta work until they fail in spectacularly funny fashion, but I think I’ve said enough. Well, I will mention one more thing. I have to mention the acting. I guess you can call it that. It’s never actually good. Instead it ranges from sounding as if the lines are being read for the first time to sounding the way someone would say them if they were talking in their sleep. Anticipating how much more unnaturally the next line will be delivered just adds to the fun. And I haven’t even mentioned that our hero gets woken up by a phone call from his boss every single morning and we’re shown this with the shot framed the exact same way every stinking time. Mix in a barely coherent script, gratuitous nudity, and the oddity of gangsta vampires and you've got yourself a flick that’s so bad it’s awesome!