The film opens in 1977. A sharp-dressed man strolls into an alley one night and stumbles upon a gory vampire feast. He attempts to ring the police then flees as a hot female vampire gives chase.
When the man makes it back to the supposed safety of his apartment, he rings the cops and reports the crime. Having woken his wife in the process, he then breathlessly tries to explain to her what it is that he's just witnessed. Pretty soon the whole family is awake, and his young daughters begin to freak out.
The night gets much worse when the vampire arrives at the man's door. Despite the family's best efforts - the man is quick to reach for his gun - they are slain mercilessly, and the apartment set alight afterwards to ensure the emergency services can never solve the crime.
We then fast-forward thirty years to the present day, and witness a high octane bullet-riddled chase through the streets that culminates in a lengthy bout of shooting and fighting in a small house, all set to techno beats. This introduces us to Lee (Brian Anthony), a DEA detective who is given the mission of infiltrating an underground fighting ring.
Then we're into an elongated FIGHT CLUB-type scene that affords the viewer the first of many opportunities to see Lee's bare-knuckled skills. He has to fight, you see, in order to get closer to the syndicate's organisers.
Next up is a stylishly lit sex scene complete with soft focus that ends in more blood-soaked violence. Yes, the people behind this fight scene - Jade (Darian Caine) and Nicholas (Brian Heffron) - are vampires!
Initially suspicious of newcomer Lee, the ringleaders do their checks on him and decide he's trustworthy: he's permitted to continue taking part in the illegal fistfights.
As a result, Lee soon begins to move up the ranks of fighters, which brings him gradually closer to meeting the organisers with the intention of bringing their empire down from within.
With the help of his only ally Davidson (the attractive Cheyenne King), Lee also manages to get up at ungodly times of the morning to spy on his suspects.
Cue lesbian trysts that end in bloodshed, garage surf music accompanying characters in empty nightclubs who say "motherfucker" a lot, and more fight scenes than you can possible shake a stick at.
And this is all before Lee even learns of Jade and Nicholas' true nature, and links them to the unsolved crime from back in 1977.
More serious in tone than I'd expected, FIST OF THE VAMPIRE is a cheap but hopeful action-horror hybrid that perhaps owes a little too much to FIGHT CLUB and BLADE for it's own good.
Having said that, it is an ambitious project considering it's readily apparent miniscule budget. Some of the FX work is more far-reaching than what you'd anticipate in this league of film (CGI human torches, some decent prosthetics and bloody throat-tearings) while the reasonably choreographed fight scenes are taut and frequent.
Some of the computer effects are admittedly wavering on the shitty side, but it's early days for Killer Wolf Films and director Len Kabasinki. There are moments that work in FIST OF THE VAMPIRE and aspiration remains evident throughout, even if the end results are sometimes risible.
Visually the film is stylish, utilising artificial coloured lighting and extremely proficient editing to good effect. The score, a mix of metal and techno electronica, is fundamentally irritating but undeniably used appropriately over the many bone-crunching fight scenes (which are well done - it helps that Kabasinki is a keen martial artist and that he's cast wrestlers in some roles).
Elsewhere, FIST OF THE VAMPIRE ticks two very important boxes in terms of low budget horror filmmaking: there is lots of nudity and blood.
On the downside, FIST is plagued by a very messy, muddled story and lack of continuity that is positively distracting at times. Some highly suspect performances (although Caine is good) and an over-reliance on cribbing from popular 90s films such as THE MATRIX, PULP FICTION and FIGHT CLUB are also unattractive features.
Ultimately FIST wants to be cool and, to a small extent, it achieves this.
Oh, and it's far more entertaining than Kabasinki's previous CURSE OF THE WOLF.
Brain Damage presents FIST OF THE VAMPIRE uncut in a dark and dusky non-enhanced 1.85:1 transfer. Somewhat soft-looking, it is however an acceptable presentation that affords FIST a film-like feel. The hues of red and green are bold throughout, ensuring that - if nothing else - FIST is a colourful proposition.
The English 2.0 audio is uneven. This is most likely due to the way the sound was recorded for the film. Some dialogue is perfectly audible, while at other moments it's almost impossible to make people out. Music is blaring throughout, ensuring we don't ever overlook the wealth of metal and electronica that Kabasinki serves up for us.
The disc opens with an animated main menu page that leads into an animated scene-selection menu allowing access to FIST OF THE VAMPIRE via 4 chapters.
The only extras on Brain Damage's DVD are a trailer for FIST OF THE VAMPIRE, plus trailers for the remaining titles in their second run of releases: AWAKEN THE DEAD, HELLHOUSE, Kabasinki's CURSE OF THE WOLF, BACHELOR PARTY IN THE BUNGALOW OF THE DAMNED and TASTE OF FLESH.
Of Brain Damage's second sextet of horror offerings, FIST OF THE VAMPIRE is the pick of the bunch. Granted, that's saying very little. But it shows ambition and, at times, potential. With occasionally striking compositions and a few well-considered visuals, Kabasinki is not without talent. He is on this occasion, however, playing without a decent script or budget.
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Brain Damage Films|
|Region 2 - PAL|
|see main review|