Painted Skin (1993 film)

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Painted Skin
Directed by King Hu
Written by King Hu, Ah Cheng
Starring Adam Cheng
Joey Wong
Sammo Hung
Lam Ching-ying
Release date
  • 18 September 1993 (1993-09-18)
Running time
94 min.
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese

Painted Skin (Chinese: 畫皮之陰陽法王; pinyin: Huà Pí Zhī Yīnyáng Fǎwáng) is a 1993 Hong Kong supernatural horror film starring Adam Cheng, Joey Wong, Sammo Hung, Lam Ching Ying, and Wu Ma. It was directed by King Hu.

It is based, very loosely, on a famous story in Pu Songling's classic short story collection, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.


A scholar (Adam Cheng) encounters a beautiful maiden (Joey Wong) in an alley on his way home and leads her to his house, where he tries to marry her as a concubine. By chance, his wife and he discover that she is in fact a ghost, who must "paint" and graft a facial skin mask over her face to look human. Terrified, the scholar enlists the help of two Taoist priests, who give him a magic whisk to keep the ghost at bay. However, it appears that the ghost is benign – she merely wants to escape the clutches of an evil Yin-Yang King, a faceless, powerful spirit-king who shuttles at ease between the mortal world and the spirit, and who seems to be controlling the destinies of some recently deceased souls.

The two Taoist priests battle the King to release the ghost, but realize their magical prowess is not sufficient. Instead, they use the ghost to track down a highly skilled Taoist Master (Sammo Hung) in the countryside. Meanwhile, the Yin-Yang King has possessed the scholar and is wreaking havoc in the mortal plane. The priests finally discover and convince the Taoist Master, who decides to destroy the evil spirit-king so as to guide the ghost back to Hades.


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