About 7 years before Gary Oldman camped it up and creeped out as Bram Stokers Dracula, A Chinese Ghost Story brought a fresh and visually stunning light show to a waiting Chinese audience.
Brought up on a diet of the staple kung fu films and historical dramas, the average ghost story, though plentiful, tended to be light(ish) comedies. After the commercial success of films such as Rouge, which brought a dramatic weight the genre, A Chinese Ghost Story took the next unfaltering steps.
From the opening scene, the imagery is incredible. Many Hollywood horror films have subsequently aped the lighting and use of textures to create a vivid palate on the screen, but this piece of work remains the brightest and the best.
Intriguingly, the film does not deal with horror per se but of love through the barricade albeit sometimes tugging to heavily on the comedy strings. However, scene after scene urges the story on whilst never once letting go of the mood.
The story line itself is a bit silly, based mainly on Buddhist beliefs and the special effects can be crude at times, but the top notch cast, scenery, lighting and music all set this film well above the rest.
Francis Ford Coppola could only imitate. Now that's class.