A Chinese Ghost Story

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For the 2011 film of the same title, see A Chinese Ghost Story (2011 film).
A Chinese Ghost Story
Film poster
Traditional 倩女幽魂
Simplified 倩女幽魂
Mandarin Qiàn Nǚ Yōu Hún
Cantonese Sin6 Neoi5 Jau1 Wan4
Directed by Ching Siu-tung[1]
Produced by Tsui Hark
Screenplay by Yuen Kai-chi
Story by Pu Songling
Starring Leslie Cheung
Joey Wong
Wu Ma
Music by Romeo Diaz
James Wong
David Wu
Cinematography Poon Hang-sang
Tom Lau
Sander Lee
Horace Wong
Edited by Cinema City Production Co. Ltd. Editing Unit
Distributed by Golden Princess Film Production
Release dates
  • 18 July 1987 (1987-07-18)
Running time
98 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Budget HK$5.6 million
Box office HK$18,831,638[2]

A Chinese Ghost Story (Wade–Giles: Ch'ien-nü Yu-hun; literally: "The Ethereal Spirit of a Beauty") is a 1987 Hong Kong romantic comedy horror film starring Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong and Wu Ma, directed by Ching Siu-tung and produced by Tsui Hark. The plot was loosely based on a short story from Qing dynasty writer Pu Songling's Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (聊齋誌異), and also inspired by the 1960 Shaw Brothers Studio film ,The Enchanting Shadow. The film was popular in Hong Kong and several Asian countries, including South Korea and Japan, when released. Most notably it boosted the stardom of Joey Wong, won Leslie Cheung popularity in Japan, and sparked a trend of folklore ghost films in the Hong Kong film industry, including two sequels, an animated film, a television series and a 2011 remake. The film was ranked number 50 of the Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures presented at the 24th Hong Kong Film Awards.


Ning Choi-san is a timid debt collector whose job requires him to travel to rural areas.[1] He arrives at a town but is forced to seek shelter in a deserted temple in the forest on the outskirts because he ran out of money due to his inability to collect the debts as initially planned. That night in the temple, Ning meets a beautiful and alluring young maiden called Nip Siu-sin and falls in love with her. However, when he later recalls that night's events the next day, he becomes increasingly fearful and superstitious because a Taoist mystic told him that the people he saw at the temple were ghosts. That night, he returns to the temple to spend the night there and confirms his theory that Nip is actually a spirit.

Nip tells him her story of how she became eternally bound to the servitude of a sinister Tree Demoness. She explains that as long as her remains are buried at the foot of the tree, her spirit will be forever enslaved by Tree Demoness. Ning attempts to free her from her suffering. He seeks the help of a powerful Taoist priest and master swordsman called Yin Chik-ha, whom he met earlier. Yin battles the Tree Demoness and attempts to free Nip's soul but fails. Nip's soul is taken to the underworld for betraying her master.

Ning is unwilling to give up on Nip and insists that Yin help him. Yin manages to open a temporary portal to the Underworld. Ning and Yin enter the Underworld and attempt to free Nip's soul from suffering. They are unable to find her in the midst of thousands of other spirits. Eventually, Ning and Nip are able to see each other briefly near dawn when they come back from the Underworld after the fight. Sunlight shines on the urn containing Nip's cremated remains, but Nip cannot be exposed to sunlight or her soul will disintegrate. Ning holds on to a curtain to shield the urn from sunlight as he has a final conversation with Nip. Nip tells Ning that the only way to save her soul is to place her remains to rest at another more auspicious burial site before she returns to the darkness. Ning follows her instructions and with Yin's advice, Ning buries Nip's remains near the crest of a hill. He burns a joss stick for her and prays for her soul while Yin watches solemnly behind him.


  • Leslie Cheung as Ning Choi-san (寧采臣), a debt collector who encounter the ghost.
  • Joey Wong as Nip Siu-sin (聶小倩), a ghost that is forced to lures young men to their death for the Tree Demon.
  • Wu Ma as Yin Chik-ha (燕赤霞) a Taoist priest that hunts ghosts
  • Lau Siu-ming as the Tree Demon (樹妖), an evil demon that forces Nip Siu-sin to lure men so as to feed on their life force.
  • Lam Wai as Hah Hau, Yin Chik-ha's rival swordsman
  • Xue Zhilun as Siu-ching (小青)
  • Wong Jing as the Judge
  • David Wu as Secretary Chiu
  • Huang Ha as the boss of the tavern
  • Yeung Yau-cheung as the charms seller
  • Shut Mei-yee as the paintings seller
  • Joshua Ho as the dog
  • Jiang Jin
  • Elvis Tsui as Chyun Cheung

2011 re-release and remake[edit]

In memory of the late Leslie Cheung, director Ching Siu-tung and producer Ng See-yuen re-released the film in cinemas across mainland China on 30 April 2011. According to press release, the film was digitally remastered from the original negatives for six months. In addition, premieres took place in both Beijing and Shanghai. Ching Siu-tung, Ng See-yuen and Lau Siu-ming were present. However, Wu Ma and Joey Wong, who were invited, did not attend the premiere. Ching Siu-tung had difficulty tracking down Joey Wong and had to contact her through her family in Taiwan. He received a telephone call at the last minute from Wong's father, stating that the actress was in poor health and not in good condition to attend the premiere. Wong's father also quoted her daughter saying that acting in the film were her best memories.[3]

That same year, a remake of the film was released. It starred Louis Koo, Liu Yifei, and was directed by Wilson Yip.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations
Ceremony Category Recipient Outcome
7th Hong Kong Film Awards Best Film A Chinese Ghost Story Nominated
Best Director Ching Siu-tung Nominated
Best Actress Joey Wong Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Wu Ma Nominated
Best Cinematography Poon Hang-sang, Tom Lau, Sander Lee,
Horace Wong
Best Film Editing Cinema City Production Co. Ltd. Editing Unit Nominated
Best Art Direction Kenneth Yee Won
Best Action Choreography Ching Siu-tung, Philip Kwok, Lau Chi-ho,
Alan Chui, Bobby Wu
Best Original Film Score Romeo Diaz, James Wong Won
Best Original Film Song Song: Dawn, Please Do Not Come (黎明不要來)

Composer/Lyricist: James Wong
Singer: Sally Yeh

Song: A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂)

Composer/Lyricist: James Wong
Singer: Leslie Cheung

Song: Path (道)

Composer/Lyricist:/Singer: James Wong

24th Golden Horse Awards Best Feature Film A Chinese Ghost Story Won
Best Supporting Actor Wu Ma Won
Best Adapted Screenplay Yuen Kai-chi Won
Best Film Editing Cinema City Production Co. Ltd. Editing Unit Won
Best Art Direction Kenneth Yee Nominated
Best Makeup & Costume Design Shirley Chan Won
Best Original Film Song Song: Path (道)

Composer/Lyricist:/Singer: James Wong

16th Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival Special Jury Award Tsui Hark Won
8th Fantafestival Best Director Ching Siu-tung Won
8th Fantasporto Film Festival Best Film Award A Chinese Ghost Story Won
24th Hong Kong Film Awards Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures (#50) A Chinese Ghost Story Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A Chinese Ghost Story". Freer Gallery. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  2. ^ HKMDB." Box Office Numbers. Retrieved on 23 January 2007.
  3. ^ [1] China Daily: 2011 Shanghai Premier and Qing Siu-tung Regrets Unable to Find Missing Outtake Footage (Chinese).

External links[edit]