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
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.