Film Reviews:

Spooky Encounters/Gui da gui

aka Close Encounters of The Spooky Kind 2

(Samo Hung, HK, 1980)

This sequel to Close Encounters of The Spooky Kind is almost the original's equal. Portly kicker Samo Hung stars as Po, a young man who hopes for success in his new restaurant venture so that he can give his fiancée all she desires. The less-than-grand opening of his noodle bar is overshadowed by a rival restaurant just across the way and it is only in the early hours of the morning that Po's first customer arrives. He believes this first sale is the beginning of his success but it is the beginning of something very different, for his first client is a ghost woman named Hung. Hoi, Po's best friend asks Hung to help Po get rich and ward off Mr Sze - the lecherous and wealthy elder statesman of the town who has designs on Po's fiancée. This Eastern Heroes release is not up to their usual standard in that it isn't a widescreen format (minor quibble) and the fast-changing subtitles are often illegible. However, at least the subtitles that are readable are translated into something resembling English.

Beyond these presentation faults I have only praise for Spooky Encounters. It isn't one of the genre's greatest movies but is it an excellent example of the standard regularly reached by the ghost fantasy sub-genre within Hong Kong movie making. It begins within a suitably eerie vampire nightmare that is a portent of things to come, and there is plenty of amazing flying action along the way - can one never tire of watching such high wire antics - it seems not! A terrific score encompasses the range of emotions that these films often cover: romance, humour, drama and action. The humour, though much in evidence, doesn't detract from the truly horrible moments that commonly crop up in the genre. At the other end of the range, one hilarious scene has a midget zombie trying to bite Po's testicles and it is only Po's agility that keeps his manlihood out of the rotting creature's mouth! Not recommended for newcomers to the Hong Kong scene because the awful subtitles may put them off, but a worthy addition to more seasoned fans' collections.

Rob Dyer

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