A Chinese Ghost Story

From Academic Kids

A Chinese Ghost Story (Template:Zh-cpw, literal meaning: "The Spirit of a Beauty") is a 1987 Hong Kong movie starring Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong and Wu Ma, directed by Ching Siu-tung and produced by Tsui Hark.

The story was inspired (but extensively modified) by and could be considered a loose cinematic presentation of the Qing Dynasty novelist Pu Songling's Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.

The movie was immensely popular in Hong Kong and Asia when released and made a major star of its female lead, Joey Wong. It also sparked a movie trend of period ghost flicks in the industry.


Ning (Leslie Cheung) is a timid tax collector whose line of work involves going to rural areas to perform his job. During one of his regular pursuits, he was side-tracked from his duties when his account ledgers were soaked by a downpour and eventually got lost in the jungle of which the surroundings were bathed in an eerie atmosphere. Close encounters with predators in the jungle were not the only threats which he faced but also an alluringly beautiful ghost Nie (Joey Wong) whom he saw in an elaborate pavillion in the jungle itself surrounded with her attendants (who were also the undead). Ning was then unaware that Nie was under the command of a powerful tree demon who feasts on men's souls. Nie herself was also no angel as she had her own history of luring clueless male travellers to their untimely deaths by leading them to the monstrous tree demon. Regardless, she took him under her care as he was lost and soon fell in love with him. The tree demon, with rage, attempted everything within his power to stop their romance with his weapon, a large tongue which doubles up as a tree root that can bind humans which he then feasts with great enjoyment.

Ning himself is no ghostbuster - he battled the tree demon with the enlisted assistance of Master Yan (Wu Ma) with the latter's elaborate and over the top Taoism doctrines of 'ghostbusting'. As with all romances with the supernatural, there cannot be hope of the fairytale romance which many would come to expect and Ning's love fate is no exception. Nie's redemption was only to end her own fleeting soul and rest in peace through reincarnation so that she will not entrap many other lost male wayfarers. At the end of the movie, Ning was left only with a lingering memory of his beloved whom he met and lost in the forest. It was almost as if he was not supposed to be there in the first place.


American director Sam Raimi has borrowed scenes and ideas from A Chinese Ghost Story for use in at least one of the Evil Dead movies and in certain episodes of the television series Xena [1] (http://www.sister13.com/underwater.html) [2] (http://www.whoosh.org/issue60/wisniewski60.html) [3] (http://www.dvdreview.com/fullreviews/a_chinese_ghost_story.shtml).

Sequels: A Chinese Ghost Story Part II, A Chinese Ghost Story Part III

Missing image
A Chinese Ghost Story Poster
  • a film review (http://www.illuminatedlantern.com/cinema/reviews/chineseghoststory.html)



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