Review Date: 3/19/18
Cast: Margaret Hsing Hui, Feng Chin, Lily Li
Ling Wei Ching (Feng Chin) is a bumbling and naïve scholar who visits an old family friend to collect an outstanding debt. Unfortunately, the greedy and sinister Mr. Chang would rather see Wei Ching dead than repay him, so he and his equally despicable wife invite him to stay at their estate for a while, hoping that the ghost that haunts his room will kill him. Their plan backfires when the ghost of Hsieh Hsiao Chen (Margaret Hsing Hui) befriends him and he falls in love with her. A fox fairy named Hu Hsiao Tsui (impishly cute Lily Li) also befriends Wei Ching, which introduces a rivalry between her and Hsiao Chen. But soon, the three of them must join forces to battle Mr. Chang, a meddling Taoist priest, and the Judge of Hell himself.
It's an ambitious fantasy production, full of bright colors and fanciful imagery. It's also tedious and overly long. The action scenes are weak and mostly shot in the dark, and the copy of the film that I watched was so poor that I couldn't make anything out other than an occasional blur. A young Lily Li is utterly adorable as the playful and mischievous Hsiao Tsui, which is a much different personality than the sour faced characters that she would later play in the 70's and 80's. The cinematography is good and the film has a strong and memorable soundtrack. The tone is lighthearted throughout, although the slapstick comedy is difficult to stomach. What's unusual about this ghost story is that the human, the spirit, and the fairy all survive and have happy endings. Hsiao Chen is conveniently reincarnated and marries Wei Ching, although he can't stand the sight of her new mortal body. In a rather tasteless scene, Hsiao Tsui's father recognizes Wei Ching's suffering and gleefully casts a spell that makes Hsiao Chen beautiful again so that he can get it up in the bridal chamber. So what's the lesson here?