Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love conquers death and demons

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Starring: Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang, Ma Wu, Wai Lam, and Tsui Ming-Lau
Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

In ancient China, a young tax collector (Cheung) takes refuge from a rainstorm in an abandoned temple. Here, he meets and falls in love with a beautiful girl (Wang). There's only two things standing in the way of their great romance: She's dead, and she's to be married to a tree demon. Will love find a way even in this case?

"A Chinese Ghost Story" is a wild supernatural martial arts period comedy. It mixes equal amounts of horror, comedy, and tragedy wrapped in great costumes, spectacular sets, mindboggling special effects, and presented with brilliant camerawork, exceptional lighting, and a great musical score. There is literally not a dull moment, as the film careens from magical martial arts duel to terrifying spirit attack to sweet romantic moments to a magical martial arts duel with terrifying spirits who are interrupting a tender romantic moment.

While the wild action and special effects are going to keep you watching in amazement, it's the touching love story at the center of the film that is going to sell you on it. Even if you think romance is "icky", you will, like the bumbling hero of the film does, fall in love with the beautiful, kindhearted spirit, and you will root for her to be liberated from the demons and evil ghosts keeping her trapped.

Both an expertly crafted haunted house movie and a romantic melodrama, "A Chinese Ghost Story" is bound to enliven any ghost-themed Home Film Fest at your house.