The One Eyebrow Priest Becomes a Taoist Detective
Bradford Daniels | Redmond, WA | 11/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Magic Cop" is one of my all-time favorite movies. I'm tempted to say it's my absolute favorite, but I suspect I've already said that about something else, so I'll refrain.Before his death in 1997, Lam Ching Ying starred in a number of movies (Mister Vampire, One Eyebrow Priest, Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind, and various sequels) as basically the same character, the "Eternal Sifu", a tough taoist priest capable of controlling the undead, defeating spirits, and just generally kicking supernatural butt.In this film, he brought his Eternal Sifu into the modern world as a cop (who is also Taoist Priest) investigating a drug ring that seems to be made up largely of reanimated corpses. The results are truly spectacular, sucking you into a world where minor errors in ritual can cause spirits to assault you, mirrors damage evil spirits, and bad Feng Shui can get you killed.I've stopped buying VHS tapes in favor of DVDs, but for this one, I just might make an exception. My old copy seems to have died."
Magic Cop, Zombie Buster!
P. A Clark | San Jose, CA USA | 01/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Magic cop was a fair film which carries the Mr. Vampire theme into the present. The film begins when Lam Ching Ying goes to Hong Kong to investigate a strange death by a young woman. The woman appears to have died while trying to resist arrest at a stake out in a resturant. Lam discovers however, that she was in fact dead before she was run down in the street by a truck. He then concludes that someone has been animating the dead in order to do their bidding. (in this case to traffic drugs)Lam is assinged to work with Lenny and Larry, (two Hong Kong cops) while in town. Lenny is supposed to be a scientific minded cop and he finds Lam's methods oudated and superstitious. As the movie progresses however, Lenny soon realizes that only Lam can solve this case since it deals with Taoist magic and Vampires(they really behave as zombies though) Lam eventually tracks down the source of the mayham, which happens to be a Japanese lady who also uses Tao magic. There are several creative Tao magic confrontations between the two until Lam faces off with the witch-like lady in the end.Magic Cop is very much in the traditon of the Mr. Vampire series. It has Tao magic, zombies, and lots of clever scenes involving the animation of the dead and sometimes the living. Lam comes across well in the film, as does his female antagonist. The special effects are not Hollywood caliber of course, but they are pulled off with the finess that only a Hong Kong production can shoulder. Now for the bad news. Lenny and Larry do not contribute much in the way of drama or story deveopement. They behaved silly most of the time and just didn't act like cops. Maggie Cheung also appears in the film as Lam's niece, but her performance is weak due to the roll she's playing. A young woman who acts more like a child most of the time. Lenny also has a crush on her, which adds some protective uncle scenes, but the film wouldn't be hurt without them. Also, the drug trafficing theme is nonesense, and gets lost somewhere in the film altogether. (Guess they realized it was silly half way through and dropped that whole plot) The realease company for the film is Taiseng. They include Mandrian, Cantonese, and English language tracks on the disc. THe extras are sparse, only a trailer, a synopsis of the film, and some bios on the actors.Overall I would say Magic Cop would only be of interest to people who are either familure with Hong Kong cinema, or people familure with the Mr. Vampire movies. The casual viewer may not get the magic scenes, or understand them. I'd also say that renting Magic Cop is all that is needed for most viewers. Good luck trying to find a place that carries it though. If you're really interested in this film, buying it may be your only option. If you never get to see it, there are worse things in life."
Zombies and cops
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 02/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After "Mr. Vampire," there was a trend of Taoist-magic/vampire hunting movies, preferably starring Ching Ying Lam. One of the better examples is "Magic Cop," which introduces Taoist magic and zombies into a modern urban setting -- it has some humor that doesn't quite work, but it's still an enjoyable supernatural comedy.
It introduces us to Uncle Fung (Lam), a kindly rural policeman who is "more like a Taoist priest than a cop" -- including apprehending an angry ghost with a candle and cloth, after an old lady accidentally angers it. There must be a lot of people who get killed by angry spirits, if this scene is any indicator.
Then we switch to ndercover cops Lam (Wilson Lam) and 'Head' (Miu Kiu Wai), who try to apprehend a drug courier, only to get tossed away like rag dolls. Turns out she died several days ago. This is the ideal crime for Fung, so he and his pretty niece Lin move into Lam's bachelor pad. No, I don't know why Fung doesn't kick Lam out the window for hitting on his niece.
When Fung isn't keeping the womanizing Lam away from his niece, the three cops are tracking the dead woman's boyfriend. The man unwittingly leads them to the head of the drug ring -- a Japanese Taoist sorceress, who reanimates corpses as couriers. Only Fung can stop another Taoist magician -- but soon they've unleashed a horrific zombie that wants them all dead.
Reportedly Lam didn't really enjoy doing these vampire/zombie/ghostbuster roles, and some of them were pretty lame. Fortunately "Magic Cop" is one of the better roles, and it actually improves as you watch it multiple times. After all, it shares a writer with the classic "Shaolin Soccer."
Expect lots of kung-fu and unusual action scenes, like a wonderful scene where Fung battles fiery cloaks and flying roofing tiles. But there's plenty of humor too, ranging from cheap laughjs to more long-running jokes (like Fung redecorating the bachelor pad). Too bad the subtitling is typical eighties stuff -- sometimes it's hard to tell what they're saying.
Ching-Ying Lam is giving a typical performance here (the stoic Taoist priest), but he gets some great, acrobatic kung-fu near the end. Michiko Nishiwaki is wonderfully creepy as the sorceress with the deadly ropes. But too much attention is paid to his sidekicks, one trusting and kind of dumb, and the other cocky and womanizing.
"Magic Cop" is a pleasant variation of the usual vampire-busting movie, and Ching Ying Lam never disappoints with his signature role. Definitely worth seeing, despite the flawed sidekicks."