Shy Spirit (Review)
aka 九月初九之重見天日 aka Shyly Spirit aka Pa xiu gui
Written by Jeng Man-Wa
Directed by Chong Yan-Gin
Shy Spirit is about one thing, which is a nude ghost girl. The film then sets up a nice and ridiculous scenario to get the nude ghost girl, who is nude far less than you would expect for this being a movie about a nude ghost girl. Despite the nude ghost girl being the draw, Shy Spirit is not one of those smutty Cat III ghost films. Though it’s a spooky comedy, like many Hong Kong films the tone will jump around, daring to become suddenly serious or becoming a well-choreographed action film before jerking right back to the comedy.
Shy Spirit also isn’t very good. It takes too long to set up the complicated plot, which then rambles around a while. Large portions of the film focus on Long-Life like he’s supposed to be the hero, even though he does all sorts of bad things like inadvertently kill Hsio, turning her into the “shy spirit” of the title. Sing ends up becoming the hero, though he
Shy Spirit features rival families and innocent people who are caught in the crossfire. The Wang family and the Ko family are rivals, dating back to when both patriarchs were chasing after the same girl as youth, Mrs. Hu. She ended up choosing neither of those idiots, instead picking a sickly guy. All three families have kids at the same time, Mr. Wang celebrates the birth of his son Sing, Mr. Ko celebrates the birth of his son Long-Life, and Mrs. Hu celebrates the birth of her daughter, Hsio. This means another generation of the rivalry. Not only that, but it’s time to tell the fortunes of the three babies, thanks to a traveling priest and his hopping assistant. The priest is Lam Ching-Ying essentially playing his one-eyebrow priest character from the Mr. Vampire movies, and the fortune for Long-Life is more of a misfortune – he’ll age rapidly and probably die at age 23. But if he doesn’t, he’ll live a long life. Also he’ll be weak during the full moon. Does that make him a were-weakling? Strangely, he gets the bad fortune, even though other bad stuff happens.
22 years later, and two gangs are battling it out with martial arts matches refereed by the Police Chief, Mr. Ko’s Elite Club and the Mr. Wang’s Saint Club. Sing (Ngai Sing) has a younger brother named Sen, both of which are fighters. But Sing throws his match, having accepted a bribe from Mr. Ko.
Mr. Ko (Chung Faat) and Long-Life (Eric Tsang Chi-Wai) get the now widowed Mrs. Hu to agree that Hsio will marry Long-Life, but only because Hsio agrees. Hsio thought the proposed match up was Mrs. Hu and Mr. Ko, and is shocked that she’s now getting married. Despite her mom’s stance of never breaking a promise, Hsio does get out of the wedding when Mr. Wang, who is also a Taoist priest, burns a scroll about Mr. Ko, causing Mr. Ko to blurt out a bunch of perverted statements to Mrs. Hu, and she calls everything off.
Long-Life’s friends convince him to peep on Hsio in the bath through the roof. He does so, but the full moon comes out from the clouds, making him weak, and the roof collapses and he falls right on Hsio. Because roofing collapses happen when you get weak? Blue energy passes between Long-life and Hsio, and now she’s dead! Long-Life and his friends run, though Mrs. Hu spies him go before finding her dead daughter.
Long-Life’s murder trial is cut short when Mr. Ko bribes the police chief, who declares the roof was old and fell by itself. Mrs. Hu is understandably upset, and vows to not bury her daughter until they get vengeance on Long-Life.
As Hsio was naked at the time that she died, her ghost is naked! We got nude ghosts, people! Hsio runs into some other ghosts – a mischief ghost, a drowning ghost, a horny ghost, and some other ghost I didn’t recognize and they didn’t say what it was. All of them dismiss her. Mr. Wang has the ability to see her and can’t give her clothes as he’s not related to her, but he can give her rags. Clothes and money must be burned by relatives for the ghosts to get them in the afterlife. Mr. Wang also instructs Hsio to go west to the Gate of Death, saying “You are not only a shy ghost, you are stupid, too!” Gee, thanks. She gets to the Gate of Death (which is patrolled by variously colored soldiers that guard the afterlife and tell her to go get clothes or she can’t come in. Wait, there is no nudity in Heaven? Than how can it be Heaven??? Also she quickly loses her rags when someone grabs at them, becoming the shy spirit again. This girl just loves being naked.
A Taoist Priest (Dick Wei) and his hot daughter Po (Cheung Jing-Yue) get caught up in the commotion. Po has the hots for Sing, while the Priest helps Sing until he gets hired by Mr. Ko. The Priest does disembody Sing for a bit, so his spirit can encounter Hsio, and the two ghosts have ghost sex because that’s certainly how stuff like this happens. Mr. Ko also gets a bodyguard for Long-Life, a mixed-race guy named Lieng who is presented as the son of rape of Western troops. Lieng will feature in a fight sequence where Sing and Sen attempt to avenge Hsio by attacking the Ko compound.
There is more wacky stuff including Mr. Ko’s plan to fake his death to get rid of Long-Life’s bad luck, and a race to either reunite Hsio with her body (thus making her alive again) or needed to get her through the Gate of Death before she becomes a Wild Ghost, which means she can’t go to the afterlife. The blue energy that was transferred when Long-Life fell on her is the key, which means they must fight to get to Long-Life to get the energy back, which leads to a huge fight that is awesome and way better than the half-baked ghost nonsense. Mr. Wang and the other Taoist Priest have a big Taoist Priest battle that involves flying swords and Mortal Kombat energy blasts being shot at each other. Can the fight end in time to save Hsio? Who cares, let’s have more crazy battles!
Shy Spirit fails to commit, and ends up failing to deliver. Instead, the film ends up like the titular ghost, hiding in the bushes for most of the movie and being confused. Simplifying up the plot and deciding on more action or more comedy would have improved things remarkable. As would a hero that was actually interesting, Sing was as exciting as watching paint dry, for the longest time I didn’t even realize he was supposed to be the guy we cheer for. Disappointing and deserving to be tossed back into the well of obscurity.
Rated 4/10 (Peeping, moon, nude beneath your clothes, blue guard with cool yellow brows)