Picture of a Nymph

In the aftermath of the very successful Chinese Ghost Story, a plethora of similarly styled supernatural films were made – some quite good, some quite sexual and others that were neither. This Sammo Hung produced film follows the formula of a Chinese Ghost Story as closely as it possibly can even to the point of having Joey Wong once again play a mournful tragic ghost figure and Wu Ma (who also directs) once again as the surly ghost fighter. Though it isn’t nearly as poetic, romantic and sumptuous as Chinese Ghost Story, this film is overall quite entertaining with a number of excellent fantasy/special effect scenes. It has also added – much to it’s benefit - a new character, the son of Wu Ma – played by Yuen Biao.
Beginning in myth like fashion, Lam Wai puts his son into a basket and lets it float down stream where a singing and semi-naked Wu Ma finds it and adopts the boy as his own. The boy grows up to be Yuen Biao and though he is following in the footsteps of his father as a hunter of ghosts, he plays it in charming Biao fashion - quite shy and playful. In an early scene, he tracks a demon, Yuen Wah, into the house of a poor young scholar – Lawrence Ng – and a battle ensues pitting the acrobatic skills of Yuen Biao against the deadly entrapping whiskers of Yuen Wah.
Yuen Wah, Yuen Biao and May Lo
During the fight, Ng’s house burns down and so Yuen offers him shelter in the home where his father and he live. Ng soon comes across the ethereal and painfully gorgeous Joey Wong. Joey is a ghost of course – and truly doesn’t have to do much in the film but flutter her eyebrows over those sad brown watery eyes and look tragic and vulnerable – but that is enough. On her way to her wedding the Ghost King attacked her entourage and Joey jumped to her death rather than become the slave to the Ghost King. Now Joey’s wandering spirit resides on the earth – unable to reincarnate and still being sought after by the Ghost King.
The Ghost King is in fact a female – performed juicily by Elizabeth Lee in a sensually evil manner – and she is in the habit of picking off brides to be and making them her slaves – and though never spelled out, it gives off hints of ghostly lesbian activities.
Love is a funny thing and Ng willingly enters into hell to fight for Joey’s soul with Yuen and Wu Ma not far behind him. Of course as Yuen thoughtfully tells him – even if you should get her out, she is still a ghost and you are still a human. A mere trifle to Ng. With a face like Joey’s, he will gladly take the downside – and who wouldn’t? Yuen on the other hand is in love with a village girl (May Lo) who already has been captured by the Ghost King.
Ng, Biao and Joey
Ng’s portrayal of the scholar was the weakest point of the film for me. Perhaps, I always think of him in terms of his role in Sex and Zen, but he always comes off as callow and effete and not at all the material of a romantic lead. So I found it difficult to be swept up in the drama and romance of this film and didn’t honestly care that much about the outcome. At the same time, this is a beautifully rendered film with a nice eye for detail, great eerie atmospherics and some memorable images. For Yuen Biao fans, he is very personable in this film and performs some nice acrobatics – but as one might expect in a ghost film like this, there is no real opportunity for martial arts type action.

My rating for this film: 7.5

DVD Information:

Distributor - Universe

I've been waiting for quite some time to find this film with sub-titles and was thrilled with this DVD. The transfer is absolutely lovely - and the many night scenes also look quite good. 



Previews: Legend of Wisely, No Compromise, Merry Christmas

8 Chapters

Subs - English, Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia

Star files - Joey Wong and Yuen Biao

Easy to read subs