This popular and beloved film, produced by Tsui Hark and directed by Ching Siu Tung, is a standout in the Hong Kong supernatural-action genre and spawned many sequels and copycats. A Chinese Ghost Story stars Leslie Cheung as Ning Tsei-Shen, a timid and likable tax collector. Looking for a place to stay the night, he comes upon a spooky abandoned temple occupied by a tough Taoist swordsman (Ma Wu). Despite his warnings, Tsei-Shen stays anyway. Later he encounters a beautiful maiden (Joey Wang) who he quickly falls in love with. Unfortunately, she is a ghost who is being forced to trap men for an evil spirit who feeds on their souls. A Chinese Ghost Story has been widely praised for infusing the genre with humor, action, romance, and inventive special effects. Memorable images include an attacking mile-long tongue and a cloak opening to dozens of ghastly decapitated heads. The final battle in hell is said to have inspired scenes in Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness. And the film has its share of homage: A group of crusty zombies are reminiscent of the skeletons in special-effects guru Ray Harryhausen's 7th Voyage of Sinbad--and they are eliminated by Tsei-Shen in comedic slapstick fashion, not unlike the style of Charlie Chaplin. Cheung and Wang are a likeable romantic pair, and Ma Wu creates a hilarious character who breaks out into song and a martial arts dance when drunk. The DVD transfer is topnotch, with the film's misty mood lighting and fluttering gowns appearing layered and crisp. It's a must-see for Hong Kong action film fans. --Shannon Gee
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