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March 4th, 2002 Issue #98

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

Ghost Of The Mirror
(1974; First Distributors)
also known as GHOST IN THE MIRROR

Cover art courtesy Winson.

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Gu geng gwai wan
Mandarin: Gu jing gui hun
English: Antique Mirror Ghostly Spirit


Fans of Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia will not want to miss this Taiwanese fantasy, which is the earliest of her pictures to become available on DVD thus far. Shih Jun (A TOUCH OF ZEN, RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN) stars as a noble scholar who travels to a remote villa, in order to make 100 copies of a Buddhist scripture. The place is in a state of extreme disrepair, the previous tenant having fallen down a well to his death. Shortly after he and his young assistant settle in, a number of strange occurrences convince the boy that the place must be haunted. His master, however, refuses to believe the locals when they tell him that the well is inhabited by a beautiful woman who lures men to their doom. One evening, young maiden Su-su (Lin) appears, seeking shelter, first from some robbers and, later, the elements. The scholar immediately recognizes that she is a spirit and Su-su reveals that she was driven to commit suicide by throwing herself down the well. In the time since then, she has been forced to act as an instrument of evil but pledges to now serve, rather than destroy. Although his mother made him vow to stay away from women while copying scripture, the nobleman comes to treasure Su-su's company but the powerful demon Poisonous Dragon poses a threat to their happiness.

Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia. Image courtesy Winson.

Director Song Tsun-shou (who co-helmed Lin's first picture, OUTSIDE THE WINDOW) utilizes basic but effective atmospherics to sell the supernatural aspects of the story and the soundtrack includes some cues lifted from Japanese horror films. There is even a plot element reminiscent of a story in the classic Toho anthology KWAIDAN. However, this remains very much a Chinese story of star-crossed love between man and ghost, and both the performances and the dramatics are traditional in the most agreeable sense of the term.

DVD Specs:

Winson #WDV 3102G
Dolby Digital 2.0
Post-Synched Mandarin Language
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
6 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Letterboxed (1.95:1; cropped from 2.35)
Coded for ALL Regions
93 Minutes
Contains mild horror

DVD menu courtesy Winson.

Film Board Ratings and Consumer Advice

Hong Kong: II (IIA by current standards)
Ontario: PG


Given the sorry state of film preservation in Taiwan and the fact that the old World Video tape edition of the picture is fullscreen with no subtitles, we should be glad to have GHOST OF THE MIRROR on DVD at all. Still, one cannot help but find Winson's presentation somewhat disappointing. The scope image has been squeezeboxed at 1.95:1 and there is occasional instability. Some sequences have a yellowish tinge, the element is worn, and the sound is quite harsh and noisy. In an apparent attempt at improvement, the audio has been reprocessed into an odd, simulated stereo but the effect is more distracting than helpful and the music still warbles badly at times. There are no extras.

GHOST OF THE MIRROR is available at Poker Industries.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com

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