Thursday, October 11, 2018

In short: The Haunted Cop Shop II (1988)

Original title: 猛鬼學堂

Apparently, Hong Kong has a big problem with (mostly) Western style vampires now. Why, even a big meeting of various government suits to discuss the solution to said vampire problem is attacked by the blood-loving fiends. The city’s best bet is apparently to team their worst, most cartoonish police officers with the most ridiculous nicknames as a vampire fighting force. This group does of course include Jacky Cheung’s and Ricky Hui’s returning characters from the first movie – these nitwits are what goes for vampire hunting experts. Kitty Chan is back too, but for some reason, she’s playing a completely different character. And hey, one of them gets bitten early on and from then on turns into a one-toothed half-vampire (don’t ask) whenever the light of the moon touches him, so he actually knows quite a bit about being a vampire.

Before the bunch of idiots can actually go to work, they’re supposed to train on the grounds of a some sort of former military property. Said military failed to mention the place is full of vampires and other undead, though. Supposed hilarity ensues.

I say “supposed”, for this sequel to the actually really funny Haunted Cop Shop, again directed by Jeff Lau Chun-Wai, is about as funny as getting a tooth extracted by a ninety year old dentist. One of the film’s biggest changes in comparison to the first one is that it replaces its predecessor’s approach of having a serious horror film invaded by its comedy protagonists by just throwing goofy shit at the audience without any coherence. Now, I’ve nothing (well, not much) against randomness in comedy, but if a film consists of ninety minutes of random nonsense, it damn well better be really funny nonsense. Perhaps Wong Kar-Wai’s (who appears here in an acting cameo) contribution to the first one’s script was more important than I had initially believed.

What Cop Shop II delivers instead of fun is a series of tedious and aggressively unfunny scenes full of unlikeable characters – and way too many of them to boot – clowning around for what feels like centuries, until a finale of running through corridors, random deaths, and vampire electrocution occurs. The first film’s impeccable sense of timing is gone from nearly all of the proceedings, as is Lau’s hand for atmosphere. Even the funny duo of Cheung and Hui seems to be phoning it in. That the film seems somewhat inspired by the dreadful Police Academy films does obviously nothing to improve matters.

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