Friday, October 11, 2013

Chinese Ghost Story 3

After what I believe is a brief flashback to the first Chinese Ghost Story, we suddenly skip ahead 100 years to a new cast of characters involved in a similar story. This time, a young monk (the reliable Tony Cheung), ill-suited to his station in life, must face-off against the fearsome Tree Demon and his legion of sexy lady demons, while starting to fall in love with one of the demons himself.

Before going in I had assumed that Chinese Ghost Story 3 would be a direct sequel to the first 2 films. Instead, it's a loose sequel that's closer to a remake of the original. Again we have a tale of a young man fighting demons and falling in love with one who may be redeemable, with a funny twist: this time the hero is a monk and has taken a vow of chastity. So his romance with the demon is awkward and filled with a lot of humor about his virginal demeanor and his futile attempts to protect his chastity. I've noticed that HK movies can be playfully irreverant about Buddhism; it's hard to imagine a mainstream American movie trying to mine the same kind of humor out of, say, a priest being tempted to sleep with a woman.

As much as I would have liked to have seen a continuation of the previous films (it'd be nice to hang out with those characters again), I can't complain with the final product. Like the others, it's an eye-popping, imaginative, energetic and action-packed comedy/fantasy/horror/adventure filled with crazy monsters, absurd kung fu, crazy colorful flowing costumes, likable performances and a solid screwball-comedy-meets-ghost-story plot. Director Ching Sui-tung is not quit on my list of favorite HK directors (although I love Duel to the Death), but he is one of the most flamboyant, and everything I've seen of his is at least worthwhile, and usually better than that.

Rating: B

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