Immortal Enemy (2003)

When I picked up the DVD of this Thai vampire film at a rental store’s closing-down-sale, I was extremely wary. I feared the worst – and apparently I was right. Only a few minutes into this film, I could see that sitting through this lousy thing would be excruciating.

In order to keep myself motivated – and in order to keep my sanity – I decided to do something different this time: noting down a sort of minute-by-minute “live” commentary, to allow you to share in my pain.

You can decide for yourself if you want to directly move on to the spoiler-free review; or go to my minute-by-minute “live” commentary first (which is full of spoilers) and return to the review later. When I say spoilers, I should add that this film is so bad that nothing in there can really be spoiled; and that the film confused me so much that half of the stuff I “spoiled” I may actually have gotten wrong anyway.

 

Spoiler-commentary: click me

 

Spoiler-free Review:

A lot of visual things in this film look quite nice. The locations, the set design, the costumes; even the opening credits. They all look rather decent in a B-movie sort of way. A number of practical effects are also pretty much on par with other B-movies, and it seems that in Thailand you can get a long way on a (presumably) pretty modest budget. There are also some special effects and CGI that look the part (on the quality level you are used to from SyFy channel productions and the like); unfortunately, there are also many special and CG effects that look like crap, and the film throws a lot of the worst and most over-ambitious of them into the finale; which sort of undermines whatever good opinion you might have about the visuals in this film.

 

This film is about an alchemist whose experimentation with immortality somehow requires him to drink blood. I can accept that; blood equalling life-energy is a time-honoured horror film topos. Saying that this is what created vampirism is also acceptable, but not enough is done to explain why his bite should then turn others into vampires as well, and why some are more ghoulish than others. This Thai film does what many Japanese mangas have done before: it uses some isolated elements of western vampire and horror myths, mixing them with all sort of other myths and traditions, and in the end produces something that clearly never needed any of those western elements in the first place. Immortal Enemy‘s “plot” would have worked just as well without all those western clichés, and may have benefitted from trying to create its own lore instead.

All in all, I do not believe the film’s premise is all that new or original, and it does not help that the plot is absolutely ludicrous. Tonally the film is all over the shop, especially with the ill-timed, badly executed humour thrown in. The acting is neither here nor there, and the dialogue is often atrocious. Part of the blame for that should probably go to bad dubbing, but I believe I can safely say that even a dialogue written by Shakespeare or Whedon would not have saved this film.

There are also far too many characters, most of whom I could not tell apart and many of whom do not serve a purpose and were entirely unnecessary for the plot. I never understood who was related to whom, or why that mattered. Adding to that problem is the fact that the characters stay extremely pale. The film’s reincarnation angle robs many of them of agency, of making their own decisions, of forging their own destiny. Therefore, ending up dead or undead is for these characters never a result of their own character faults, their own inherent weaknesses, etc. Which takes away a lot of drama – as does the fact that the close relationship between some of the heroes and some of the vampires is barely used for dramatic effect in the showdown. There is so much potential here that is completely wasted.

This film reminds me a bit of Angel of the Night – but Immortal Enemy is infinitely worse. It might well be a worthwhile candidate for lovers of bad films.

I am sorry to write this, but this is a pretty clear case of 0 out of 10 stars. I might raise that to 0.5, just for some of the efforts made in the art departments.

 

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