Arts and Entertainment
By Patrick Macias
WESLEY SNIPES'S TWO -film-strong Blade franchise is far from the first to mix up kung fu fighters and Bram Stoker-esque bloodsuckers. In 1974 Britain's Hammer Studios and Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers joined hands and made the leap into genre-splicing with their seminal coproduction The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula, also known as The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. Hammer, famed for its naughty gothic takes on Frankenstein and Dracula, kept up the horror end, while the Shaws showed off (or at least tried to ... more about that later) their considerable martial arts prowess. Thus you have the esteemed Peter Cushing (in the role of, who else, Professor Van Helsing) sharing lines with hunky David Chiang (the unforgettable Rover from Duel of the Iron Fist) and six other S.B. fighters as they ass-kick seven, count 'em, seven golden vampires together. It would be tempting to call the film a masterpiece on the basis of high concept and cool casting alone, but in truth Seven Brothers is a mixed bag. Prefiguring countless coproductions to come, the British cinematographers and editors seem unsure how to maximize the H.K. fighting scenes and action choreography. Five Deadly Venoms this isn't, and it easily could have been. If the Shaw Brothers' strengths went underused, rest assured that Hammer has a solid upper hand. There's gratuitous nudity, lots of blood, an incredible musical score by James Bernard, and a hilarious sense of stiff-upper-lip dignity so delusional that the word "camp" can't even begin to come close. Even if it may not be the karate Dracula movie it could have been (heck, Christopher Lee isn't even in it), there are enough kicks and thrills to make it worth the midnight peek.
A slightly more successful team-up can be found in the breakneck brilliant One by One, wherein a pair of escaped cons (toothy wildcat Yasuaki Kurata and sullen Kam Kong) flee cops and gangsters and battle each other all the while joined together by a steel chain. And you will join them in excitement.
'The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula' plays Sat/30, Four Star. See Movie Clock for show times.
'One by One' plays Thurs/28, Four Star. See Movie Clock for details.
Patrick Macias is the author of TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion.