Chinese Ghost Story, A ( Sien nui yau wan )
"A Chinese Ghost Story" by Yojimbo
A naive young scholar is seduced by a beautiful spirit and joins forces with a retired swordsman to return her remains home and free her soul for reincarnation. Produced by prolific Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, A Chinese Ghost Story contains all of his usual crowd pleasing ingredients of frenetic swordplay, slapstick and songs with an added dash of romanticism to create a comic supernatural pantomime that's heavy on over the top set pieces and light on narrative. It's a deeply silly excuse for exploding zombies, pretty girls flying around on wires and flurries of martial art violence that owes obvious debts to western films such as Evil Dead 2 and Poltergeist, presented with a more Eastern flavour. The characterisation is a blend of the usual HK action stereotypes and the plot next to non-existent, but it's all done with an innocent charm and sense of fun that stops it from descending into the cheap and nasty. Subtle it most certainly is not and technically speaking it's a bit of a mess, but the heroes are very likeable, as are the amusingly slapdash effects and the surreal finale set in the ghostly realm is visually inventive and fun.