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August 10th, 2000 Issue #4

Hong Kong Digital is a recurring series of movie reviews by John Charles -- a film reviewer for Video Watchdog magazine and the author of The Hong Kong Filmography.

My Cousin, The Ghost
(1987; Golden Harvest/Bo Ho Films/Paragon Films): 6/10

Cover image courtesy Mega Star.
Biu go dou

Biao ge dao

Cousin Arrives

London Chinatown restaurant owner Richard (Richard Ng Yiu-hon) is such a cheap, unethical proprietor, he traps pigeons in the park during the day and serves them as "chicken" to his gweilo customers at night. He also mistreats his cousin, illegal immigrant cook Mako (Wu Ma, who also directed), even getting the man deported back to Hong Kong. Mako's troubles are not over yet, however, as he soon loses both his new job and his girlfriend. In light of all this misfortune, Mako is especially nonplussed to learn that Richard has sold his business and is coming back live with him!

Mako's equally unemployed cousins/housemates are actually pleased by this news, as they hope that Richard will be able to help them out with his healthy supply of British pounds. However, a phone call from England reveals a rather startling fact about Richard: he's dead. It seems that he fells in The Thames and drowned and his body is now missing from the morgue. Richard is unaware of his condition but Yung (Kenny Bee) discovers it when he sees him get hit in the back of the head with a dart and display no reaction whatsoever.

Kenny Bee (Chung Chun-To) and Richard Ng Yiu-Hon. Image courtesy Mega Star.

A would-be expert on the supernatural, Mako warns Yung and his buddies (including Tai Po and Mang Hoi) that the best way to deal with Richard is to not alert him of his condition but that becomes increasingly hard when the latter expresses concern over the fact that he no longer wants to drink or eat and casts no reflection in the bathroom mirror. The answer to their prayers lies in Miss Wang (Wong Wan-si), who is actually a spirit herself and has the hots for the mustachioed corpse. However, there is a third phantasm in the house that must be dealt with before this undead union can take place.

Wong Wan-Si. Image courtesy Mega Star.

Possibly inspired by the 1984 TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE episode "A Case of the Stubborns" (in which Eddie Bracken's crotchety old grandpa refuses to believe that he is dead, despite his family's desperate attempts to convince him of this obvious fact), MY COUSIN, THE GHOST is a fairly mild entry in the 80s horror/comedy craze. Don't let the Category I rating fool you, though: there are several amusing bits of black comedy (Yung tries to convince his buddies of Richard's condition by severely burning him with an iron) and even some scatological gags (including one in a doctor's office involving a baby thermometer that provides the biggest laugh here).

There is also an amusing parody of the bicycle sequence from the original MR. VAMPIRE (also from producer Sammo Hung Kam-po's Bo Ho Films) but the first hour of MY COUSIN, THE GHOST relies far less on genre components than that effort and may make some viewers a bit restless. The final third, however, is more in-line with the energetic slapstick that popularized the genre and is worth waiting for. The Melody Bank supplies the soundtrack but a cover of Ray Parker Jr.'s GHOSTBUSTERS theme also pops up a couple of times. Veterans James Tien Chun and Yip Wing-cho appear briefly.

Mang Hoi (left). Image courtesy Mega Star.

DVD Specs:

Mega Star #MS/DVD/094/99
Dolby Digital (5.1)
Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks
Optional subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
9 Chapters (illustrated in the menu with still frames)
Letterboxed (1.69:1)
Coded for ALL Regions
Category I
91 minutes

DVD menu courtesy Mega Star,
Prior to this release, MY COUSIN, THE GHOST was very difficult to find in subtitled form and Mega Star's nice quality, low-priced DVD thankfully rectifies that. The source print has some mild wear but is in nice shape overall and the digital compression does not display any overt flaws. Both audio channels have been given Mega Star's usual 5.1 treatment, widening the sound stage slightly, but not throwing the original mix out of balance. The English translation is fairly good and the subtitles even cover the end title song Kenny Bee sings. Extras consist of the theatrical trailer and trailers for HE LIVES BY NIGHT, FATAL LOVE (1988), and TILL DEATH DO WE SCARE.


Copyright © John Charles 2000. All Rights Reserved.

Hong Kong Digital is presented in association with Hong Kong Entertainment News In Review