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Issue #192 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES December 29th, 2003

This week's issue is dedicated to the memory of Anita Mui Yim-fong, who died on Monday afternoon of cancer at the much too young age of 40. One of the HK entertainment industry's brightest lights, Mui was far more than just "The Asian Madonna," as her many fans will attest. She will be deeply missed.

A Chinese Legend
(1991; Grand March Movie Production Co.)

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

Cantonese: Chui yat
Mandarin: Zhui ri
English: Chase the Sun

Despite its obvious debt to the A CHINESE GHOST STORY series and a tight budget, this sombre period fantasy turns out to be an impressive achievement in its own right and one of the finest fantasies of the early 1990s. Haunted by a recurring dream, in which he encounters a veiled maiden (Joey Wang Tsu-hsien, at her most stunning) and then falls into a bottomless abyss, swordsman Kar Yat-long (Jacky Cheung Hok-yau) awakens one evening with part of the woman's bracelet in his hand. While riding one day, he comes across the very same woman (whose name is Ku Moon-cher), about to be sacrificed by some villagers, to protect their homes from the malevolent King of Ghosts. Although he offers to escort her to safety, she returns for the sake of her people.

That evening, Yat-long encounters another beautiful girl (Sharla Cheung Man) in a remote part of the forest. Although she provides him with ample opportunity to seduce her, Yat-long does not, for he realizes that the maiden is actually a Fox Goblin which drinks the blood of men that fall into its seductive clutches. Before leaving in the morning, he gives the creature the name Ching'er and earns her unyielding love. Meanwhile, Moon-cher violently rejects the advances of the King, resulting in the destruction of Ku Village and, later, her suicide. Yat-long seeks out and finds Moon-cher's ghost but she is soon taken by the King, prompting the swordsman and an elderly master (Wu Ma) to concoct a desperate plan to rescue her soul. Along to aid Yat-long is Ching'er, who is willing to sacrifice herself for him, despite the fact that she knows Moon-cher is his true love.

In contrast to its models, A CHINESE LEGEND has no comedy relief and is quite downbeat but that actually helps to make it more romantic and affecting. The leads give committed performances and both the cinematography and the score are quite beautiful and atmospheric, adding greatly to the final product. There are enough positive attributes on hand here for all but the most cynical viewers to forgive some technical shortcomings like obvious miniatures, flawed rear screen projection, and visible support wires. The film was directed by Lau Hung-chuen, who helmed a handful of other projects (including the infamous DEVIL FETUS) but is best known as a cinematographer (he shared those duties here with Cheung Dik-kei and Yuen Wai-kwok). Lau Shun also appears in a characteristic role as another aged master.

Cover art courtesy Shengchi.

Joey Wang and Jackie Cheung. Image courtesy Shengchi.

Sharla Cheung. Image courtesy Shengchi.
Shengchi #DG-1063 (Taiwan label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Post-synced Mandarin Language Track

Permanent Subtitles in English and Traditional Chinese

6 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With Clips

Fullscreen (cropped from 2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

91 Minutes

Contains moderate violence

DVD menu courtesy Shengchi.


Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG

A CHINESE LEGEND was first released on DVD by China Star, utilizing the old Star Entertainment laserdisc master. That version (now out-of-print) cropped the scope image to approximately 1.85 but was reasonably good quality and featured an effective stereo re-mix. It lacked English subtitles, however, making this poor quality Taiwanese DVD the only current choice for Western viewers. The disc is derived from the same middle-of-the-screen transfer as the original Taiwan videotape release; the print is very worn and the splice can be seen at the point of virtually every shot change. Colors are decent but the audio is monaural and the resolution is strictly VHS level. The severe cropping of the subtitles also makes this a scant improvement over the China Star release in terms of coherency. If your machine has X-Y scaling, you can reduce the size of the picture and be able to see more of the subs and the compositions, helping to improve viewing somewhat. Regardless, this movie deserves a much better showcase and the Shengchi disc should only be considered by those desperate to see it.

A CHINESE LEGEND is available at Poker Industries.

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