Movie Details

A Chinese Ghost Story

Following the 1987 horror rom-com classic starring Leslie Cheung and another two movies after that, Wilson Yip directs a new version with Louis Koo and Liu Yi Fei. Yip says he aims to put his own spin on the familiar story and it isn`t a sequel, but rather a brand-new story, employing new elements such as CGI effects. Yin Chek Ha (Louis Koo) was determined to become a good Demon Hunter but one day, he made a big mistake when he broke the rules of his Demon Hunter brotherhood. After that, he hides himself in the Black Mountain village. He knows his heart is still with Black Mountain and he tries hard to kill all the demons he encounters to numb himself and forget a woman (Liu Yi Fei). After many years, history repeats itself and he realises he has left his heart with her.

Language: Mandarin
Subtitle: NA
Classification: PG
Release Date: 21 Apr 2011
Genre: Action / Drama / Fantasy / Romance
Running Time: 1 Hour 41 Minutes
Distributor: Golden Village Pictures, Encore Films
Cast: Louis Koo, Fan Siu Wong, Crystal Liu Yifei, Yu Siu Kwan, Kara Wai, Wang Tan Yee Li, Lin Peng
Director: Wilson Yip
Format: 35MM

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Review
Writer: Ezekiel Lee Zhiang Yang

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Watch this if you liked: “Painted Skin” (2008), “Beautiful Carp Spirit” (1965), “The Enchanting Shadow” (1960)

With only residual comedic elements left from Tsui Hark's trilogy, especially the celebrated '87 original starring Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong Cho Yin, 2011's "A Chinese Ghost Story" ("A Chinese Fairy Tale" in some territories) really ought to have been darker or more romantic - but at any rate, more fun, especially at its US $20 million tag.

"Ip Man" helmer Wilson Yip together with action-director Ma Yuk Shing have produced a reupdate that deceptively does recapture some of that old magic, chiefly through "Painted Skin" cinematographer Arthur Wong and production designer Kenneth Mak - but as a whole, the creative decisions behind the film fail to elevate this to anything beyond forgettable catalogue material, although on its own, without the association of its illustrious forerunners (including even the "Chinese Erotic Ghost Story" spin-offs), it would've held itself up nicely as a moderately-satisfying, cross-genre standalone.

Showcasing Crystal Liu Yi Fei and Louis Koo Tin Lok in the leading roles of demoness and demon hunter of the oft-told Qing tale, we are taken back once more to familiar sword-and-sandal territories in ancient Chinese village life. The director's assurance that this isn't a remake was probably based on ill-advised marketing speak or poor Chinese translation - because this is obviously a reupdate to the franchise, albeit with plenty of CGI work to complement the traditional SFX.

Instead of Ming Sir as an effeminate demon in the '87 genesis, we have veteran Kara Hui (Wai Ying Hung) as a crabapple tree demoness who tortures her minions, like Siu Sin (Liu) who is trapped in the netherworld while entertaining the romantic impossibilities of getting back with her human ex, Chek Ha (Koo) or with young new suitor Ling (Yu Shao Qun in Leslie Cheung's role). To younger generations unfamiliar with Cheung's classic, "A Chinese Ghost Story" is like Hong Kong's new "Twilight" - down to its uninspired emotional downtime that evokes only shallow emotional resonance.

Oh well, Ronald Ng's ethereal music score almost had us fooled. Time to dig up Li Han Hsiang's 60s "The Enchanting Shadow" on DVD.

Cinema Online, 19 April 2011
   
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Classification
Effective 15 July 2011
G - Suitable for all ages
PG - Suitable for all ages, but parents should provide guidance to their young
PG13 - Suitable for persons aged 13 and above, but parental guidance is advised for children below 13
NC16 - Suitable for persons aged 16 years and above
M18 - Suitable for persons aged 18 years and above
R21 - Restricted to persons aged 21 and above only
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