One of the greatest paranormal movies of all time has just gotten a lavish remake, with CG effects replacing the old wirework. And the reimagining of Tsui Hark's 1987 classic A Chinese Ghost Story has swept the Chinese box office.
It's hard to overstate just how amazing the original Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂), which spawned a few sequels as well as some weird porn spoofs, really was. Produced by Tsui Hark and directed by Ching Siu-Tung, the original film is a beautiful tragic love story of a young scholar who falls in love with a fox spirit who is the slave of an ageless tree demon, luring young men to their deaths. The scholar teams up with a ghost hunter, but doesn't want his beloved to die. And the ghost hunter is the one who sings/raps an amazing song about Daoism:
But the original Chinese Ghost Story is also lovely and quite moving, and it helped usher in a whole era of movies featuring wirework, historical costumes, supernatural powers and demented action.
So now it's been remade by Wilson Yip, director of the successful Ip Man movies. He's cast young, relatively unknown actors in the roles: Yu Shaoqun, who played the young Mei Lanfang in Chen Kaige's biopic of the Peking Opera singer, plays the scholar. And Liu Yifei, who debuted in 2008's The Forbidden Kingdom, plays the ghost. To spice things up, Yip added to the backstory, creating a romance between in the past between the ghosthunter and the ghost, so it's more like a love triangle.
Also, Yip says it's not really a remake of the earlier movie, since he's going back to the source material, the ghost stories of classic 17th century author Pu Songling.
Yip told Associated Press that his new version of the ghost is more playful and less tragic than the earlier verison, thanks to Liu's performance:
Her emotions are like that of a small animal, like a fox. Her active personality is unlike the melancholic tone of the previous version.
Check out a trailer, which shows off the astounding visuals in this version — it's clearly a movie that's had some money spent on it:
And here's a behind-the-scenes video, showing the amount of bluescreen this time around — but there's still a lot of wirework:
And finally, here's a seven-minute sneak peek, sadly without any English subtitles: