A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) Sinnui yauwan
Directed by Siu-Tung Ching
Starring Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong, Ma Wu
A romantic, comedy horror, this is traditional Hong Kong cinema at its finest.
A kindly but bumbling tax collector arrives in town only to find his account book has been ruined by heavy rain, since he cant collect anything he seeks somewhere to stay overnight. The (not so) friendly locals direct him to a haunted temple, obviously with the hope that hell be taken care of by the ghosts and demons but things dont play out as they expect.
What can you say, this is a wonderful slice of hokey fun and includes a demon with a tongue that goes on forever, a mad Taoist swordsman, beautiful spirits with long flowing robes that spin and fly with the greatest of ease. Not to mention the dehydrated corpses in the temple itself that come to life at night looking to satisfy their bloodlust, this film has it all and more in abundance.
Leslie Cheung plays Ling Choi Sin the tax collector, a proverbial nice guy (luckily for him). The only reason he survives his encounters with the beautiful spirit, Lit Sin Seen (Joey Wong) is because despite her flirtations, he doesnt try to take advantage of her. Ma Wu is terrific fun as Yin Chek Hsia, a ghost destroying Taoist swordsman, he is trying to ensure that nobody else falls victim to the ghosts and demons, not so easy when a man and a spirit have fallen for each other.
The effects are old school and as such are splendid, from the wire work (which is just as good as you'll see in any recent films) to the stop motion animation which has a charm of its own. I have to mention some of the sound effects which are reminiscent of 80s computer/ arcade games such as Pac-man, these are quite bizarre at first but do not detract from the film.
A Chinese Ghost Story is light, very entertaining and it is without a doubt a great example of Hong Kong cinema and traditional Chinese storytelling and theatre. A popcorn movie that has one simple aim and that is to entertain you, in that essence it certainly succeeds.
BBFC rated 15
R2 dvd released by Hong Kong Legends.