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For all its wackiness, Chinese Ghost Story is serious stuff.
Michael J. Tresca | Fairfield, CT USA | 03/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't remember why I decided to rent Chinese Ghost Story 2. It's probably because it's one of the best examples of a martial arts historical fantasy, and I use the word "historical" loosely. It's hard to sum up the plot because it's a blending mishmash of several other plots. There's the reincarnated former long lost love, the bumbling tax collector, the clueless demon fighter, the grouchy monk, and a whole slew of bandits who dress up as ghosts. But it wouldn't be called Chinese Ghost Story 2 if it was only about fake ghosts. There are real ghosts too - one is a hilarious big floppy monster with big fangs, big eyes, and big claws. The other is the main bad guy, who doesn't actually appear until the second half of the movie. And what a bad guy he is - a demon in the form of a false Buddha in the form of a giant centipede. Get the picture yet? How about a freeze spell gone wrong, a guardian warrior who wields five katanas at once, and people flying around on swords like they were surfboards. The most hysterical part of the film is the tax collector's misuse of aforementioned freeze spell, managing to paralyze himself, the demon slayer who taught him the spell, and the ghost they're both trying to kill - so all three stand frozen for hours in a very awkward pose waiting for the spell to wear off. It's funnier than it sounds, trust me. For all its wackiness, Chinese Ghost Story is serious stuff. Characters sacrifice themselves to save others, two sisters battle for the love of the tax collector, and the false Buddha chortles as he extols the virtues of fooling the peasantry with false deities. In this movie, no one is who they seem and virtue ultimately rules above all. The tax collector is mistaken for a great sage. The bandit leader is mistaken for a reincarnated ghost. The demon is mistaken for Buddha. Ultimately, it is the measure of a man or woman that ultimately defines who they are, as demonstrated by the warrior who fights to the death to defend the honor of those he wronged. Unfortunately, the subtitles of Chinese Ghost Story suffers from a lazy and inept translation. The spell chants are never translated beyond "Abracadabra, hocus pocus!" and some of the spellings are simply incorrect. Still, it wasn't so awful that it impaired my enjoyment of the film. If Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon piqued your interest, this movie is the next step into Wuxia cinema."
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wonderful film. I first watched this when it came out in theaters and remains one of my favorites. This integrates the right amount of magical fighting and romance, even humor into a movie. Joey Wong has improved on her acting since the first, Jackie Cheung and Tony Leung make quite the comical pair. Tony's naivete as a monk and Joey's advances are well played out. Lo Lo (demon woman/man) is even more evil although less tongue lashing.If you can enjoy a movie that does NOT depend on martial arts this is definitely for you. And just because there were no martial arts there are other visuals to entertain you (more scenes of the evil Chinese ghost girls doing their thing), the beautiful use of the costumes and colors, the images of Lo Lo in the ending. Some aspects will bring back similar scenes from Ghost Story 1--but it doesn't do anything negative to the movie."
Fans of the Series Should Definitely Check This One Out.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for a different plot in this third installment to the popular Tsui Hark's series "A Chinese Ghost Story", you might be a little disappointed. The plot greatly resembles the original "A Chinese Ghost Story". Instead of Leslie Cheung, the leading male actor is Tony Leung-Chiu-Wai (this might be a disappointment to those of you who have grown attached to Leslie Cheung's role in the first two installments). Tony Leung plays a monk who gets seduced by a very beautiful female ghost (once again played by Joey Wong) after seeking shelter in Orchid Temple. In this movie, the long tongued tree spirit from the first installment is resurrected hundreds of years later and once again uses beautiful female ghosts to help lure men into its trap. This third installment of the series is a little more on the humor side...much less serious than the first two. Be warned, this is not so much of a love story as one would expect from the series, and this movie is definitely not scary. Seems like the love and horror theme have been somewhat altered in this latest installment. But no matter what, it is still fun to watch, and Joey Wong is still such a feast for the eyes."
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I think that Chinese Ghost Story 3 sometimes gets a bad rap because it's hard to watch this film without comparing it to its predecessors (it's essentially a carbon copy of #1 with half the magic - everything from the opening bloodshed to the evil sister is rehashed). But compared to other films in the genre it's actually a decent film on its own merits and satisfying overall.More scenes are devoted to dialogue than is typical and the fantasy elements are reserved to satisfying but short bouts of swordplay and magic, but I personally enjoyed the character interaction. There's a long scene in the middle which is basically flirting between the monk (Tony Leung) and the ghost (Joey Wang) and it made me smile. Joey Wang reigns as the epitome of a beautiful Chinese ghost and Tony Leung (even though it's hard not to compare his character to the Leslie Chung's more charming tax collector) plays the role of the innocent "I must stay a virgin" monk well.Fantasy elements embody bouts between the good guys (Leung as the little monk, the old head master monk, & Jacky Cheung's Taoist swordsman) and the tree demon, which has resurfaced 100 years after the first Chinese Ghost Story took place. Some pretty captivating things happen.... i.e. one scene has the old wise master monk knowing he'll be captured. So he utters some magic words and his ears grow long enough to curl up and shield his eyes from the evil. He also throws his staff at Tony Leung, who ends up being riding it back to the inn where they stay. And for humor, the flying staff ends up crashing into a giant gong.The one letdown I had was the ending. While Chinese Ghost Story 1 took the heroes into hell, and #2 had them fighting a giant centipede, #3 has them going head to head with some kind of evil demon. To represent the demon, they make the inn become alive and move around but it looks mad cheap - like they decided to do a camera closeup on a hand puppet of a building. It's also pretty long, and 10 minutes of watching a building move around is pretty boring. What am I supposed to do? Close my eyes and use my imagination? A visually anemic ending to an otherwise decent film."
Stick with the Original
E. Nolan | FL, United States | 04/22/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"A big fan of both Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong, I was disappointed with the Sequel when compared to the original - The original remains a classic, while the Sequel feels like it was hastily put together to ride the success of the original. What I really didn't like about the movie was the very fake looking ghost/monster...whatever you prefer to call it - okay, even though this was back in the 80s, but I am sure they could have come up with better stuff than that. Leslie revives the role of the helpless scholar/tax collector who is neither a martial arts expert nor a monk who can rid evil to the tee, Joey plays a new character who resembles the original 'ghost', Jacky Cheung is definitely a great addition to the movie but the plot definitely lacks the momentum of the original movie. Some great comical moments."