A CHINESE FAIRY TALE (aka A CHINESE GHOST STORY) (2011) review

Remaking Ching Siu Tung’s 1987 fantasy love story A Chinese Ghost Story was a bold move. The original is still a reverred classic, featuring a legendary screen couple in the person of the late Leslie Cheung and the now-retired Joey Wong, some of Ching Siu Tung’s most inventive choreography, and an effectibe blend of romanticism, tragedy and comedy, with crappy but well meaning special effects and a very popular soundtrack. It gave way to two sequels and a whole wave of fantasy love stories. A remake was always going to face a very tough challenge, especially since the legendary Leslie Cheung committed suicide in the early 2000’s, which adds a sheen of intensely emotional nostalgia to all his greatest successes.

Demon hunter Yan (Louis Koo in the role made famous by Wu Ma) fell in love years ago with demon Siu Sin (Liu Yifei replacing Joey Wong), but due to the forbidden nature of their union, had to leave her after suppressing her memories. Years later, naïve scholar Ning (Yu Shaoqun trying to fill the shoes of Leslie Cheung) is searching the forest trying to find a water source for a small village suffering from a drought, when he comes across a temple where he encounters life-sucking demons, one of whom is none other than Siu Sin. They fall in love with each other as she spares his life, thus finding herself hunted by her fellow demons. Things get more complicated when Yan re-emerges, setting demons, demon hunters, villagers and lovers on a collision course.

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NAUGHTY BOYS (1986) short review

An amateurishly plotted, not even sporadically funny comedy that inexplicably casts Mars as its lead (great stuntman, not good actor) and the lovely Kara Hui as a plain jane (really?) to Carina Lau’s alpha-female. Logic is absent, the gags are uninspired, and the action (supervised by Jackie Chan’s Stunt Team) is only interesting when Hui gets in on it. The plot involves a hidden loot and a hapless idiot (Mars) hunted by his ex-partners in crime, fresh out of prison (and headed by Phillip Ko). There is a literally blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo by Jackie Chan (a cameo predictably blown to deceitful proportions in the film’s DVD advertising), but in the end the only thing that sticks in the mind is a short outtake at the end where Jackie Chan demonstrates a dicy stunt to Kara Hui, who replicates it to perfection. *