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A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Cast: Leslie Cheung, Leslie Cheung, Wong Tsu Hsien, more...
Director: Ching Siu Tung, Ching Siu Tung
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Image Entertainment
Genre: Foreign, Horror, Hong Kong, Ghosts, Fantasy
Running Time: 93 min.
Languages: Cantonese, Mandarin
Subtitles: English, Korean, Thai, Japanese, IN
    see additional details...

Legendary Hong Kong producer/director Tsui Hark and filmmaker Ching Siutung combine forces in this high-flying supernatural romance classic. Ning Caichen (Leslie Cheung) is a lowly tax collector who takes refuge for the night at the spooky Lam Ro temple. There he encounters and promptly falls in love with a beautiful ghost named Nie Xiaoqian (Joey Wang). Unfortunately Xiaoqian is damned to serve the evil hermaphroditic tree spirit Lao Lao, who (thanks to an extraordinarily long tongue) feasts on the souls of amorous young males. Usually Xiaoqian, along with her comely sister Qing, tempts would-be Lotharios to their arboreal doom, but she too is smitten with the downtrodden wanderer. Soon afterwards, Caichen meets Master Yan (Ma Wu), a Taoist hermit, martial arts master, and a sworn enemy of Lao Lao, who tells him of Xiaoqian's true, otherworldly nature. Nonetheless, true love proves to be strong. Caichen promises Xiaoqian that he will help spring her from her dubious employment and Xiaoqian protects her love from the evil wood sprite. Later, things grow more complicated for the lovers when they learn that Xiaoqian has been betrothed to a demon warlord. ~ Jonathan Crow, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Chinese Ghost Story II
The beguiling sequel is at least as entertaining

Chinese Ghost Story III
And to complete your tour, check out this fast-paced third installment!

Swordsman II
And here's another fun adventure from director Ching Siu-Tung; this one stars Jet Li

GreenCine Member Reviews

A Chinese Action Classic 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 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 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!

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.15)
182 Votes
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