Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Chinese Ghost Story II

Sien nui yau wan II yan gaan do; Fantasy, China, 1990; D: Ching Siu Tung, S: Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong, Michelle Reis, Jacky Cheung, Wu Ma, Ku Feng

After suspensful events involving demons and ghosts, tax collector Ling Choi Sin again stumbles into trouble when he gets arrested because the police thinks he is a criminal. In prison, an old man shows him the way out and gives him a medaillon, and he takes a horse ride to a mysterious temple. There he finds a group of people dressed up as ghosts who mistake him for the wise man Chiu Bom due to the medaillon. The group is led by sisters Yuet Chi and Chi Chau - the latter one reminds him of Xiao and he falls in love with her. They are attacked by a 12 foot tall demon, but manage to defeat it. The sisters free their old father from the demon that transforms into an insect. Even Yen shows up and kills him. Ling's love is already engaged, but she runs away and returns to him.

"A Chinese Ghost Story II" is a weaker sequel to the popular original that actually has little in common with it due to a wacky story filled with stupid and naive solutions. Already the sole opening that shows inserts from the first film is unnecessary, and even though the bigger budget is noticeable it is only wasted on slimy scenes like the dream of the hero who imagines a man decomposing. Director Ching Siu Tung made a much better job in the first film than he did in this 2nd one. This time the emotions and passions of the protagonists don't come to full expression - the potential that the two sisters argue over Ling (Leslie Cheung) could have been wonderfully exploited, in both a fun and romantic way, but when one of them suddenly gives up it all seems definitely abrupt. The excellent rhythm, opulent costumes, moody settings and wonderful actress Joey Wang are again present, but so are sloppy moments and too silly monsters (a 30 feet long insect!) to make this more meaningful.


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