Ťkջ (2011)
A Chinese Ghost Story


Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 04/24/2011
Summary: don't speak like me...

whilst training as a demon hunter, yin chik-ha (louis koo) was tested by his master and asked to kill siu sin (liu yi-fei). siu sin is a beautiful demon, who seduces and kills men to feed the evil tree demon (kara hui), but she and yin fall in love. however, yin and siu sin realise that human and demon do not make compatible lovers and yin realises he has failed in his quest. when siu sin offers her life to him, he uses a magical weapon to only take her memories of him away and he retreats from society, to fight other demons, trying to forget about her as he does so...

years later, villagers at the bottom of the black mountain are delighted at the arrival of ning choi sin (yu shaoqun), a government official, who is responding to their request for government help. the water supply of the village has dried up and they're too scared to venture up the black mountain to find a new supply, as it is where the demons live. of course, they don't tell ning this and he's happily dispatched up the mountain, with a chain gang and the village idiot for company. surprisingly, it isn't too long before they find water, but a strange turn in the weather soon drives the group to take shelter for the night in an abandoned temple. they will soon find out that they are not along...

right, i suppose that right off the bat i should say that i am a pretty big fan of the tsui hark produced, ching siu-tung directed, 1987 film of the same name. like many uk based fans of hong kong cinema, watching a late night screening of this on tv many years ago (along with a slightly ropey vhs release of 'the killer') was something which would change the cinematic path i would spend my life walking along. between them, the two films introduced wu xia, heroic bloodshed, triads, demons, swordplay, two gun action, the aforementioned hark and ching, john woo, chow yun-fat, leslie cheung and so much more. oh, and it also meant that i would always have a crush on joey wong...

needless to say, when i heard that this was being remade, i was very sceptical and had doubts over its quality. still, i like louis koo and wilson yip seems to be on a good run, so i thought i'd give it a go. then, yesterday afternoon, as i found myself mooching past the newport theatre in mong kok - you know, the corner where anthony wong, sam lee and michael wong, hang out in 'beast cops' - i though i'd pop in as it looked like rain. firstly, i was highly amused that people were getting a pack of 'sex and zen' branded tissues, if they were buying a ticket for that; secondly, i was amazed and delighted to find that there were no adverts or trailers before the film. it just started. it's a bit mad in this day and age and, thinking about it, i'm not even sure the cinema sold soft-drinks or popcorn; you just buy your ticket, go in, sit down and the film starts; to me, that's exactly what i want.

any how, after the pre-credit sequence consisted of the first paragraph of my introductory synopsis, i was a little worried as the sloppiness of the storytelling was verging on the painful. still, it did settle down very quickly and what followed was very entertaining indeed. i'll agree with wilson yip when he says that he is borrowing heavily from the 1987 movie, but not remaking it. just. the characters, location and some of the narrative is there, but there's enough new material and a different take on the love story, to make it something different. it is a film with a little bit of everything; drama, comedy, romance, a couple of jumps, some action, special effects and fantasy.

now, for those of you who are hoping that wilson yip will have put the cgi on hold and gone for a ore grounded approach to the action sequences, then i'm afraid you will be very disappointed. this film is cgi heavy but, to be honest, it didn't really offend me. there, i said it and i can't take it back. yep, there's a couple of moments where there's some down to earth swordplay and there isn't as much flying and wire-work during the action sequences as i remember in the original, but there's cgi exploding demon ladies, and fights which have been enhanced. but, they have been "enhanced" and it all fits within the atmosphere and the spectacle of the production and the quality of such effects, like the rest of the production design, is high, so i wasn't bothered.

cast wise, louis koo does well, even with a mildly questionable beard, as did wu ma in the original: surely fake beard technology must've advanced more in the last 24 years? yu shaoqun is perfectly acceptable and makes a good ning. then, whilst being no joey wong, liu yi-fei is an undeniably enchanting ghost...

for me, this was an enjoyable couple of hour in the cinema; i jumped and laughed, was drawn into the narrative and left with a smile on my face. it was nothing close to the experience which contributed to my love of hong kong cinema that occurred when i saw that screening twenty years ago (or whenever it was), but i reckon i'd have been stupid to expect as much. if you think the very idea of this film sullies some precious memories, then you should probably avoid it. if you think it looks like a bit of fun, then embrace it.

an enjoyable flick...