Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Chinese Ghost Story

I remembered watching this classic Chinese horror story back in high school. Back then, the idea of spending a night in a haunted house really spooked me out. Despite the numerous scary and gory moments, the movie is basically a love story between a man and a ghost.

The original Chinese title of the movie is “倩女幽魂 or “a beautiful maiden’s spirit”. It stars the late Hong Kong actor, Leslie Cheung, as well as Taiwanese actress Joey Wong, and Wu Ma. The movie such a hit in Hong Kong and a few other Asian countries, it spawned off two other sequel movies and a cartoon.

The movie is an adaptation of a short story written back during the Qing Dynasty by Pu Songling. It is a typical tale of a lost traveler who spends a night at an abandoned house/temple, not knowing that the place is haunted by maligned spirits.

In the movie, the temple is haunted by a troupe of ghosts and demons, all controlled by an ancient tree demon. The ghosts are ordered to hunt mortals to feed to the demon tree.

The hero (Cheung), stays in the temple, and falls in love with the tree demon’s favorite ghost maiden (Wong). Despite all the horrible things he saw, the hero manages to fall in love with the ghost maiden and resolves to free her from the clutches of the tree demon.

Watching this movie again, reminded me of how I first reacted many years ago. I was too engrossed with the horror scenes and special effects to even bother noticing the love story. Now, I find the movie to be a tragic love story between two people. It is impossible for a mortal and a ghost to fall in love. Freeing the ghost from the tree demon’s clutches would only sets her soul back to the wheel of reincarnation. They would have to wait for another lifetime to meet up and fall in love all over again.

I gave this movie a four star rating for its story and its attempt to delve into the classic theme of a Chinese ghost story. After all, this movie is based on a Chinese horror tale written many dynasties ago. I wouldn’t recommend watching the sequels or the cartoons though (apparently Chinese movies are also prone to bad movie sequels).

1 comment:

rmacapobre said...

i remember watching many chinese films by jackie chan which had several ghosts in them too. the ghosts taught jackie specific kungfu techniques. i enjoyed them so much. they've become staple to my games of pretend, that i knew the ultimate kungfu style.

i read the wikipedia entry on this guy Leslie Cheung. tragic story.