Michael Scott

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The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires


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Movie: :4stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :3.5stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:



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Movie

Hammer Horror in the mid 70s was slowly winding down from it’s golden revival that happened during the 1950s through the mid 1970s, and at that point in their career the studio was looking for things to branch out into in order to stay fresh. They had made icons out of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with their respective Van Helsing and Count Dracula roles (as well as the copious amounts of Wolfman, The Mummy and Frankenstein films), but no one saw what was coming next. That is, blending Hammer Horror cheesiness and gore with the all famous Shaw Brothers Kung-Fu flicks! It really shouldn’t work by any stretch of the imagination as the two genres seemed father apart than anything on earth. One was a British run horror company that thrived on cheesy and vibrant monster movies, and the other which made it’s mark by being THE premier martial arts studio of the 60s and 70s and 80s. Yes, somehow the film actually works, combining the posh British Van Helsing and the cheesy hand to hand combat of the Shaw Brothers David Chiang with amazing alacrity.

Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) has long since defeated the evil Dracula (now played by John Forbes-Robertson, after Christopher Lee left the role) and moved to mainland China to teach over there. In one of his lectures he brings up an old Chinese legend about 7 Chinese vampires with golden emblems terrorizing a village somewhere in the mainland, with the end result becoming the laughing stock of the Chinese university. However, there is one man at his lecture who DOES believe him. In fact, he’s a descendant of the man who defeated one of the 7 vampires generations ago, and knows of his ancestral village’s location. Asking the help of Van Helsing and his son Leyland (Robin Stewart), he and his 6 brothers (and one sister, played by the adorable Szu Shih) are willing to take Van Helsing and his son there if the famed vampire hunter can help him slay the other 6 vampires who have continued their rule of terror over the years.

Curious to find out more about the Chinese vampires and put them back in the ground, Dr. Van Helsing agrees to follow Hsi Ching (David Chiang) and his siblings back to the little village. There they must fight off the 6 remaining vampires and their hordes of undead minions (which actually give us a glimpse of the old “hopping vampire” from Chinese myths), as well as face a mysterious villain who has come from Van Helsing’s past to kill the vampire slayer once and for all.
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The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a ridiculous cheesefest, but it works so well that you can’t help but enjoy the ride. You would have expected the aging Peter Cushing to just ignore the film and go on with his life thinking Hammer Horror had taken up the crack pipe a few too many times, but he gets into his old role with gusto and takes it seriously, even when other parts of the film are winking and nodding at the camera. The legendary David Chiang carries the film really, adding his trademark flare for the dramatic that stems from years of working with the Shaw Brothers productions, and the fight scenes are up there with many of the classic kung-fu movies.

The gore is gleefully over the top, and the R-rating is earned with ooey-gooey slime coming from the undead, as well as random topless scenes where the vampires chain up their virgin victims to be drained of their life’s blood. Like many other films, I don’t really think this can be considered Dracula canon, as it really molds itself into more of the elseworlds films, with a kind of “what might be” type scenario playing out. It’s more a fun side story for Dracula fans, but one that is a whole lotta fun to watch though. My only real complaint is that Dracula himself is sort of shoe horned into the film’s story. He’s not needed at all, as Van Helsing and the Hsi family could have easily dealt with the 7 vampires quite easily and not once would we have felt something was missing. It was pretty obvious that Hammer forced the infamous Count into the picture just to have their main line character in there for visibility’s sake. The opening and ending few minutes are the only time he appears, and his influence in the film is next to nil. It’s just a “hi, I’m here!” type of introduction and the ending is a fraction of the time spend killing the other vampires. Honestly, I wish they had left him out completely except in name only.




Rating:

Rated R by the MPAA




Video: :3.5stars:
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Taken from a new 2K sourced master,
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires looks rather decent on Blu-ray. The U.S. cut was spliced with SD inserts here and there to make up the full “uncut” version of the film, and the results are usually quite pleasing. The new U.S. sourced 2K master looks great, with strong primary colors (the red for the blood is actually RED and not that blatant orange), and the skin tones look quite normal. There’s some points where skin tones look a bit whiteish, but those aren’t too often. Sometimes the new sharpness and clarity given on the film can be startling, with the nuances of the Chinese costumes and set pieces combined with the obvious use of strings for some of the “wire-fu” fight scenes (especially with the floating vampires). However the SD inserts show a distinct dip in quality, with the colors and the details looking worse for wear along with speckles and flickering. The grain is noisy as all get out in those shots, and the detail levels are pretty poor along with some aliasing in those shots. That being said, this is a satisfactory effort as we get to see the full uncut version of the film for once, and the new remaster is very much like The Street Fighter boxset. It does a great job with the source material it had, and had to use some SD inserts here and there, which makes it look a bit uneven.






Audio: :3.5stars:
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The 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA track is about on par with the video score. It’s good, but it has it’s flaws due to age that really keep it from being spectacular. Being a simple 2.0 Mono track there’s not a whole lot of depth to be gained, but the new lossless track does sound pretty good. Vocals are generally good, but they have a reverb sound to them and there are some fade ins and fade outs that give inconsistent sound levels as well (the first one that is most noticeable is Kah’s voice when he’s talking to Dracula at the beginning). The SD inserts seem to have some voice looping, but I can’t honestly tell as I’m not intimately familiar with the original audio track. All in all it’s a decent, but aged track.






Extras: :3.5stars:
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BRAND NEW 2K REMASTER OF THE FILM
• NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Bruce G. Hallenbeck
• NEW When Hammer Met Shaw – an interview with actor David Chiang
• NEW Kung Fear – an interview with Hong Kong Film Expert Rick Baker
• Alternate U.S. Theatrical version – The 7 Brothers Meet Dracula (in HD with some standard definition inserts)
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery










Final Score: :3.5stars:

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is a bit of Hammer Horror and Shaw Brothers lunacy and surprisingly WORKS when it really shouldn’t. The blending of hammy Hammer horror and traditional 70s Shaw Brothers kung-fu is a sight to behold and it’s gloriously cheesy fun. I haven’t had this much fun with an old Hammer Horror picture since some of the original Dracula films. The addition of the Alternate U.S. theatrical cut is a nice special feature and the audio/video are pretty much the best that can be hoped for considering the situation. This is a great set to get for Hammer Horror or Shaw Brothers fans alike, and makes me giddy with anticipation for the next Hammer Horror rescue from Scream Factory. Recommended for a good watch.




Technical Specifications:

Starring: David Chiang, Peter Cushing, Julie Ege, Han Chen Wang, Robin Stewart, Szh Shih, John Forbes-Robertson, Shen Chan
Directed by: Roy Ward Baker, Cheh Chang
Written by: Don Houghton
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Studio: Scream Factory
Rated: R
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 9th, 2019






Recommendation: Good Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I am interested in checking this one out. :)
 
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