I have wanted to see this Chow Yun Fat/ Cherie
Chung pairing for a very long time, but until the DVD version came out
I could never locate a sub-titled copy. By turns touching, tender, playful
and tragic, this film is charming and delightful. Like so many HK films,
there are a lot of different genres mixed in – supernatural, romance, action,
triad – but they are all melded together in a seamless manner. Primarily
though, this is a love story.
HK has a penchant for creating wonderful love
stories between men and beautiful female ghosts (there are not many that
I can think of between a woman and a male ghost) that are emotionally stirring.
There is something about love crossing the boundaries of life and death
that is very poetic, powerful and ultimately often tragic. Some of my favorite
HK love stories – Chinese Ghost Story, Esprit D’ Amour, Guests in the House,
Painted Skin, My Flying Wife and now this film – are between mortals and
spirits. I wonder if the filmmakers are perhaps trying to say something
about the male perspective on love and relationships. Could there be anything
more ideal than a relationship with a ghost for a man – a wonderfully enchanting
fantasy of sex without concerns about offspring, a woman who never gets
older and a relationship with a built in expiration date – because usually
sooner rather than later the ghost has to return to the other world.
Chow Yun Fat and Cherie Chung always have wonderful
chemistry with one another and appeared in a number of films together –
their best probably being An Autumn’s Tale and Wild Search – and this film
continues in that vein. They so clearly enjoy each other’s company and
play off one another to perfection whether in a light jesting moment or
one of sweet tenderness. Now, nearly nine years after Cherie appeared
in her final film, she is no longer a “star” - living a quiet life in HK,
running a small furniture business in Central – but during the 1980’s she
was incredibly popular. Her country girl good looks and sweet and occasionally
ditzy film characters appealed to both men and women and she was once voted
the “Most Popular Actress”.
Here she is a ghost – a girl from a poor family
– who died at a young age and is caught in a limbo world between death
and reincarnation. She has been promised to a beastly, nasty ghost for
marriage and her only way to escape this eternal fate and be reincarnated
is to get a living person with the correct birth date to write his horoscope
down on a letter she left in a desk and have them set it on fire. By performing
this ritual, the person will sacrifice three years of their life but it
will bring Cherie back into the real world where she can try and be reincarnated.
It’s all a bit confusing actually – but not worth worrying about!
Chow discovers the letter and also fatefully has
the correct birth date and he says to himself - why not – it has
been foretold that I will live till I am 98 years old – so what is three
years to sacrifice. Chow is a low level debt collector working for Paul
Chun Pui – but he is basically too kindly to collect many debts – much
to the annoyance of Chun Pui. He is also ending a bad relationship with
a nasty Pauline Wong and so when this beautiful girl comes to him he is
quickly enchanted with her. He is initially unaware that she is a ghost,
but his Taoist priest in training cousin, Deannie Yip, has her suspicions
– and in a wonderfully choreographed scene she and Cherie have a Peking
Opera duel – as Deannie tries to reveal Cherie’s true nature and Cherie
tries to evade her.
Love blooms between the two and when Cherie takes
Chow flying high above HK he realizes that she is a ghost and though initially
that puts him off a bit, her overpowering love for him wins him over. Other
events such as a vengeful ex-girlfriend, nasty triad types and the brutish
ghost that Cherie has been promised to come into play and threaten to break
up this sweet love story.
Chow Yun Fat is at his casual best here – as he
delivers a relaxed and personal performance and Cherie is perfect as a
sentimental ghost who has finally found true love, but may have to sacrifice
it and her chance for reincarnation for this man she loves.
My rating for this film: 8.0
Universe Laser and Video Co.
Excellent transfer for the most part – on occasion
the colors appear over saturated and at other times too pale, but nothing
Previews of The Greatest Lover, Diary of a Big
Man, The Fun, The Luck and the Tycoon, Scared Stiff, Hearty Response
Written information on Chow Yun-Fat, Cherie Chung
Easy to read subs
Subs in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French