倩女幽魂


When people ask me about my favourite film or otherwise, I often reply that I don't pick favourites, or just with my current favourite film in that period, but sometimes it's simply that I've forgotten about wonderful films watched years ago that I absolutely love.

A Chinese Ghost Story - Ling Choi Sun and Siu Sin

My parents were (well, more accurately my dad was) watching a Mandarin film last night, and I wasn't paying a great deal of attention, but I did notice one of the characters dressed in a ... well, for lack of any better way of putting it, traditional outfit – though of course this comes in so many forms as to be a completely ambiguous phrase. In any case, this reminded me of A Chinese Ghost Story, a film that was released in 1987 starring Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong. It's a much loved film, and the only copy I have of it happens to be recorded on DVD from a copy we had on VHS which was recorded of SBS. Nonetheless, I don't nitpick about video quality as long as it's watchable.

You can take a look at the trailer for the 1987 version below which features part of its iconic and well-known theme song

Perhaps another of those things that I'd forgotten, but I noticed recently they'd made a remake of the movie in 2011, so I went off to take a look at the trailer. Although there's a sense of dramaticism, darkness and urgency that is rather prevalent in the films of today, it doesn't have the charm of the original film. As a film on its own, it probably works just fine, but as a remake, it falls far short of the original. For sure, the special effects are way better than they were in the 80s, but the more organic feel and simplicity of the 'special effects' in the original movies seems more believable if anything.

If we go by their English names, 'A Chinese Ghost Story' and 'A Chinese Fairy Tale' might not seem to be similar at all, however their Chinese names (倩女幽魂) are the same, which is what marks it as a remake. In my mind perhaps, no movie could possibly surpass the masterpiece that is the original, however I'm sure it's still an enjoyable watch with an updated cast of actors.

Edit: Also older Chinese films always had an element of comedy which isn't present in more recent products, but was part of what lent them this charm.

Image of A Chinese Ghost Story 1 from Tumblr