Spiritual Love

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



DVD Information:

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 too bothersome. 

Letterbox 

Trailer 

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
 

8 Chapters 


Easy to read subs 


Subs in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French and English