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A Chinese Ghost Story back to product details

A Chinese Action Classic
written by WTaube September 24, 2009 - 9:11 AM PDT
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
A kung-fu movie classic, A Chinese Ghost Story is meant to be viewed like any other Hong Kong action film - by sitting back and accepting everything that happens and just enjoying it. The point of the movie is to entertain, and it does so extremely well. This film is beautiful, strange, and amusing all at the same time.

The storyline is ridiculous, as it should be. The special effects are cheezy, and the characters mouths are out of sync with their voices, but that's typical of the genre and period and, frankly, part of the charm. The hero is idealistic, clumsy, and just all-around cute in a fail-waiting-to-happen kind of way.

If you don't like kung-fu films, you shouldn't even be reading this review. If you do, you should have rented it by now, so get on that!

Hong Kong cinema via Bollywood
written by Lastcrackerjack April 3, 2006 - 8:02 PM PDT
Hong Kong financed Asian blockbuster that follows the Bollywood production model, offering fantasy, horror, romance, physical comedy, special effects and even a musical interlude all in the same movie.

A timid tax collector hilariously played by Leslie Cheung is out in the 19th century Chinese countryside that should be familiar to any fan of Kung Fu Theater. Drenched in rain, his tax rolls are ruined and he is penniless. Townspeople eager to be rid of the tax man direct him to the deserted Lo Ran Temple in the forest outside of town, from which the locals are sure he will never return.

After an encounter with strange bearded swordsman Master Yan (Wu Ma), Cheung is beguiled by a lute playing beauty played by Joey Wong. Walking corpses and her spirit family come between the two lovers.

Directed by Ching Siu-tung and produced by Tsui Hark, this enterprise may not add up to much in the end, but the film is a lot of fun to watch. A huge success in Asia that spawned two sequels, a TV series and cartoon, Sam Raimi was clearly influenced by the film's frenetic running camera when he made "Evil Dead 2".

A memorable sequence involves Cheung having to hide under the water level of a tub so that Wong's ghost family will not smell him. As she tries to get rid of the nosy spirits, Cheung's head pops up for air and is dunked back in with Jackie Chan-like acrobat timing.

A gang of stop-motion corpses that recall Ray Harryhausen are also fun. Part of the film's success was no doubt the introduction of fantasy thrills and underworld chills to the martial arts picture. Loosely adapted by Yun Kai-Chi from Qing dynasty writer Pu Songling's "Strange Stories From A Chinese Studio".

Good 'n' weird
written by PDull April 1, 2005 - 2:55 PM PST
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
This is an intricate lil' fantasy tale, with some of that cool "flying fu" made popular in "Crouching Tiger." The story involves a bizarre ghost love story triangle (quadrangle? pentangle? just plain tangle?) with a decent descent into hell to fight the soul-eating undead. Oh yeah, there's a battle with a 100-foot tongue, too! Very well made, and good for its strangeness, if'n you're in that mood!

written by CFuller December 6, 2004 - 3:09 PM PST
1 out of 4 members found this review helpful
In lieu of what the product copy might lead you to believe, this is a kung-fu movie. Plain and simple. I don't care if the window dressing is ghosts, sharks, ufos, or whatever. Were it not for the abysmal late '80's synth sound-track (not synth in the good way, believe me) I could have enjoyed this the way I enjoy kung-fu movies from the '60's and '70's but this was a painful disappointment.

If you're into wire-fu done with Godzilla caliber scripting, story, and performance--this might be great. If you think you're going to see an Asian period film with a ghost story motif, rent Kwaidan again.

Surprising in so many ways
written by roachspray January 13, 2004 - 5:24 AM PST
7 out of 8 members found this review helpful
I'll admit - I saw this movie because I was looking for some great wire-fu action. It's very hard, watching a Chinese film, to know what to expect - the quality varies so widely from film to film, often even within the same series, that it's hard to know what you're going to get.

So it's with that in mind that I generally sit down to watch a movie from the east: I'm expecting to be entertained and if I'm somehow moved, enlightened, or otherwise emotionally affected by the film then I consider it a bonus.

I got so much more than I was expecting.

We're presented with a lovably sympathetic lead character, performed by Leslie Cheung in a delightfully and typically Chinese slapstick introduction - it seems nothing is going right for the poor boy at the beginning of this film. From bad food, worn-out shoes, rainstorms, hip-deep mud and random assassinations happening right in front of him we realize this fellow has a black cloud over his head from the start. He's not letting it get him down, though, and it's a pleasant journey seeing this good boy grow up to be a man, battling the forces of evil, hell, death and love.

Joey Wang is simply amazing... She's cast here for what reviewers in Asia have called her "ethereal beauty" and I've no argument with their assessment. She's absolutely enchanting - I think I fell just as much in love with her as the lead character did.

Great (and often hilarious) performance from Wu Ma, also, as the Taoist magician. Don't be surprised if he suddenly breaks into a song and dance... those Taoists do that sometimes, dontcha know!

This film gracefully mixes slapstick comedic moments (If you think Leslie Cheung's character has no luck at all, just wait... the undead have it just as bad!), some incredibly creepy visuals, all the wire-fu action I was hoping for, a tenderly romantic storyline, and astoundingly good visual effects for a film from a not-Western studio. I've never seen such a creepy, action-packed love story, but the director pulls it off skillfully.

Expect none of the voices to match up with the mouths of the performers... not even the Mandarin or Cantonese audio tracks... something which I found a little irritating since I always prefer original-language audio with English subtitles to get some sense of the actors' expression.

Side notes: Joey Wang seems to have taken a 5-year break from films to work on a music career, but she signed a 5-year movie deal in 2003 so we should be seeing more of her soon. Sadly, the same is not true of Leslie Cheung who committed suicide in April that same year.

This charming fantasy is a wonderfully and intricately contrived original
written by Waiguoren99 April 1, 2003 - 11:17 PM PST
7 out of 7 members found this review helpful
Perhaps the best - known of the tremendous number of movies about "ghostly love", this charming film gave rise to two well - regarded sequels. Although the "man - in - love - with - a - ghost" story is so common, this fantasy is a wonderfully and intricately contrived original. Cheung gives the poor young scholar a tender, awkward gentleness that makes him very believable as the inexperienced, earnest young lover. Wong is so good at portraying the seductive temptress whose dawning love brings a change of heart that she became somewhat typecast after this film. There is good chemistry between Cheung and Wong, which adds to the poignancy of the story. And veteran character actor Wu Ma is wonderfully expansive as the Taoist monk/magician who reluctantly comes to their aid. Tony Ching Siu-tung's direction shows that he is far more than "just" one of Hong Kong's top action choreographers. There are a number of very funny moments which give the film balance. Special effects that were quite good for the time as well as extraordinary camera and lighting work add to the atmosphere, and the music is lovely, wistful, and evocative, sustaining the wonderful mood of this film.


(Average 7.15)
182 Votes
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