MOVIE REVIEW : ‘A Chinese Ghost Story II’: Derring-Do for the Family


“A Chinese Ghost Story II” (at the Sing Lee Theater, Los Angeles, and the Garfield Theater, Alhambra), is a Hong Kong period adventure in which simple comic book material is presented with artistic and political sophistication. A classic struggle between good and evil, it has martial arts razzle-dazzle, broad humor, flashy camera trickery, rock ‘n’ roll, much magic, a Godzilla vs. the Exorcist motif and locales with quaint names like the Orchid Monastery and the Righteous Villa.

In “A Chinese Ghost Story I” a naive young tax collector named Ning (Leslie Cheung) fell in love with a beautiful ghost, Sian (Wang Tsu-Hsin), who craves a proper burial so that she can be reincarnated. He has now been wrongly imprisoned but has managed to escape and seek refuge in the Righteous Villa, a decayed mansion, with his new friend Autumn (Jacky Cheung), a comical Taoist monk with an impressive command of sorcery. There they encounter, posing as ghosts, a Sian look-alike, Miss Windy (Wang Tsu-Hsin) and her sister Miss Moon (Michelle Ries) and their entourage. Their father Lord Fu (Lau Su-Ming), in attempting to expose traitors at the imperial court, now faces execution. Lurking in the Righteous Villa is also an immense dinosaur-like creature, the physical embodiment of the spirit of evil.

The film’s principal writer, the prolific Leung Yu-Ming, has set the stage for more derring-do than an old-time serial.


That “A Chinese Ghost Story II” is so rhythmic as to seem choreographed figures: It was directed by Chen Siu-Tung, who has staged many a martial arts display for other people’s movies. With its emphasis on action rather than violence and brutality, the film is ideal for all old enough to read subtitles (or who have been reared in the Cantonese dialect), yet is fascinating for adults in its bravura wit and style and enlightened political sensibility.

In between gags and swordplay there is a repeated concern for the problem of distinguishing between good and evil, true and false and the importance of not confusing dissent with treachery. “A Chinese Ghost Story II” (Times-rated: Family) is lots of old-fashioned fun but is surprisingly serious and contemporary in its implications. Sing Lee: (213) 626-7175; Garfield: (818) 282-6133.