On Friday's Wuxia Weekend, we talked about Vampire Cleanup Department. It is a 2017 film starting Chin Siu-Ho, Baby John Choi, Richard Ng, Lo Meng, Yuen Cheung-Yan and Lin Min-Chen.
Vampire Cleanup Department is a bit sweet, with a very simple love story at its core. But it is also an homage to jiangshi films like Mr. Vampire and Encounters of the Spooky Kind. It succeeds on both fronts and I found it improved with each viewing.
The basic premise is about a character named Tim, who lives with his grandmother and joins the Vampire Cleanup Department after he is bitten by a vampire and it is discovered his blood somehow makes him immune. The Vampire Cleanup Department is in charge of secretly protecting the country from vampires, but is more of a sanitation office than law enforcement agency, so they occasionally have to work around other organizations with more power to do their job. As a new recruit, Tim learns that his parents were both managers at the department but died after being bitten by a vampire (and he was born after his mother had been infected). On his first mission, he has an encounter with a female vampire named Summer, but she mutates into something more human when she bites him. Most of the movie is about their romance as he conceals her from his superiors, and his experience training to become a vampire hunter. There is also the threat of a head vampire that looms and comes to a head at the end of the film.
I think a lot of what made the movie work was its simplicity. It is very efficient as movies go, not wasting any time, and effectively moving the plot with each scene. Because Summer cannot speak (at least not with her vocal chords) the love story is largely a silent performance that relies on physicality and music to succeed. This is probably what makes it work so well. The other half of the movie is equally engaging, largely because the great cast and its chemistry. A lot of the movie is stuff you've seen if you are familiar with the genre, but it covers that ground well and still manages to feel fresh.
You can listen to our thoughts in the podcast episode below.