Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Hong tiao jing (1985)

... aka: 홍도경
... aka: 紅桃經
... aka: Dragon Against Vampire
... aka: Hongdogyeong
... aka: Hong-do Mirror

Directed by:
"Lionel Leung" (probably Jeong-yong Kim)

When you see the credits for this one, you may think you know what you're getting yourself into. After all, this action / horror hybrid released in 1985 was prepped by executive producer Joseph Lai's (gulp!) IFD Films & Arts Ltd. and with a screenplay attributed to "Benny Ho" (Godfrey Ho). If you're familiar with the usual output from these two gentlemen, you're likely expecting to see someone else's movie hacked into a million pieces with new scenes of Caucasian actors and ninjas wedged in here and there while horrendous dubbing attempts to bridge it all together. While we do get the awful dubbing here, we do not get any newly-added scenes. The original film appears to have been left completely intact.

So in my quest to uncover the original identity of this film, who the real director is and who some of the real actors are, I spent longer than I should have browsing through the Korean Movie Database, only to come out empty handed. After stumbling upon an English-language copy with burnt-in Korean subtitles, it made even less sense. Had this been a Korean production shot in the Korean language, why would an English-dubbed version with Korean subs even need to exist? Was this a Hong Kong production that just so happened to be filmed in South Korea? Was this an anomaly among anomalies being a completely original IFD production? Or was this just a regular ole Korean film that only IFD was willing to release internationally on home video? I'm still not entirely sure.







We're first introduced to three grubby friends; Tony (Elton Chong), Albert and fat comic relief Martin ("Martin Kim" / Jong-hwan Kook), who are pretty much the dregs of humanity. I don't say that because they're loud and obnoxious, or even because they kill and eat a dog, but because they make money robbing graves, stealing jewelry and extracting gold teeth from corpses. On one of those digs, Tony discovers a golden swastika necklace and, unbeknownst to his buddies, sticks it in his pocket without informing them. Needing a place to sleep one night, the three stumble upon a seemingly-abandoned home. Even though there's an occupied coffin, there's also fresh food, so they decide to spend the night. That turns out to be a big mistake when the owner stumbles upon them and kills Albert. Tony and Martin flee into the forest.







The pissed home owner is Black Dragon (Eagle Han), a vampire cursed to slowly decompose unless he can replenish himself with the blood of virgins, which he's been getting from young ladies in a neighboring village. He kidnaps a girl named Jennifer from her bath, takes her back to his place, hypnotizes her, drinks her blood and stabs her. I suppose I should also point out that he feeds from between the legs and not the necks of his victims. Once the student of a powerful magician, Black Dragon poisoned his master with a "special elixir" that crippled him. He now keeps him chained up in an underground cave demanding he teach him "shaolin sorcery" so he can defeat "Buddha's almighty emblem." Until then, the vamp plans on starving and torturing him until he finally gives in.







Tony and Martin end up at an inn run by an old man and his pretty daughter Fanny ("Carrie Lee" / Yeong-ran Seo), who are still mourning the loss of other daughter Jennifer. Paul and Irene; a newlywed couple, show up to rent a room at around the same time. After behaving like buffoons trying to impress Fanny over dinner, the guys retire for the night. The vampire sneaks into the newlywed's bedroom later on, kills Paul and then kills Irene after unsuccessfully attempting to feed on her (oops, she lost her virginity right before his visit). The vampire keeps returning in hopes of getting to Fanny; even going so far as to decapitate the father on one of his visits. After he kills Martin and then starts using black magic to terrorize Fanny (including possessing her and forcing her to chop a chicken's head off and drink its blood), Tony goes to the vampire's former master, springs him from the cave and tries to get him to teach him shaolin sorcery in hopes of using it to defeat the vampire. Things don't go exactly as planned.







If you try to block out the irritating comedy, awful dubbing and ridiculous cartoon sound effects for a second and focus on some of the individual scenes, it appears there are the bones of a halfway decent film in here that's been ruined by what IFD did to it. Some of the serious scenes really aren't too bad, the film improves in the final half hour once the Martin character has been killed and the ending is pretty good. Unfortunately, getting to that point borders on torture.

I had copies of the cut 78 minute English version with no subtitles and the uncut 90 minute English version with Korean subs and hopped between the two to see what's missing in the shorter one. Not surprisingly, the shorter one has entirely removed most of the sexual content, including the vampire's unique eating habits, a bathing scene, two sex fantasy dreams and the honeymooning couple's sex scene.



Direction is credited to "Lionel Leung," which is clearly a fake name on the IFD print. Adding to the confusion, the original IFD poster (above; bottom) lists a different director ("Paul Wong") and incorrect actors for this title. I've seen one source list the actual director as Jeong-yong Kim, who also made The Undertaker in Sohwa Province (1983), which became the backbone for another IFD called Zombie Rivals (aka Zombie vs. Ninja or Zodiac Power: The Super Master). Seeing how a few of the same actors appear in both films and there's similar subject matter, Kim is indeed the most likely suspect.

1/2

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