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Review A Chinese Ghost Story II a.k.a. Sien nui yau wan II yan gaan do (1990): A sequel that is an equal!

genre: action, fantasy, romance, comedy, horror

A long time ago I saw an awards show where a scene of A Chinese Ghost Story II was shown. It blew me away. Back then Hong Kong films had that impact on me since they were showing things I had never seen before. The craziness and the kinetic energy was mesmerizing. Then I saw the film in it's entirety and it truly was one of the best viewing experiences I ever had in my life. 

Even for someone who already was pretty familiar with Hong Kong films was not prepared for what was to come. Because in fact this was the first time I was introduced to Tsui Hark and his vision. I saw this before the original otherwise I might not have been that surprised. Although this sequel does have an emphasis on comedy whereas the original took itself a little more seriously. A couple of scenes are so hilarious you can't help but burst into laughter. No doubt Jacky Cheung's comedic talent had a lot to do with it. He can do so much with just his face. But like the original it will be hard to classify this film since again Tsui Hark mixes up different genres like it's nothing. While considerably less serious and dramatic it doesn't neglect to infuse some tragedy that is heartbreaking. And like in the original the chemistry between Leslie Cheung and Joey Wong is magical. Who cares that Wong is playing a different character? Once their characters meet their fate is sealed. 

If you watch this today then some of the effects might look dated and perhaps may have less impact on you. However it still holds up well and remains to be impressive and immensely charming. You can tell a lot of love went into this project. And a  Chinese Ghost Story II is yet another example to make a case for practical effects. They look so much better than CGI. Another thing that never ceases to amaze me is how Hong Kong film makers are able to make their actors look so capable action and stunt wise. A lot of people in the West were impressed by the stunts and wire works in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but compared to A Chinese Ghost Story II those stunts are laughably simplistic.

A Chinese Ghost Story II is a sequel as it should be. On par with the original and yet fresh enough to not repeat the same story. On top of this it's a film you will be able to enjoy time and time again so therefore a true classic. 

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