Goldbuster (Review)


aka 妖鈴鈴 aka Yao Ling Ling
Written by Cha Muchun, Wong Yee-Hing, Zhou Yunhai
Directed by Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu

Despite the movie being called Goldbuster, no ghosts are defeated by beating them with a gold bar. Sorry to disappoint. The directorial debut of comedian Sandra Ng tries to invoke the spirit of Hong Kong comedies past, and nearly succeeds with some good sequences and plot (and genre!) twists. It doesn’t quite come all the way together into a satisfying result, but there are enough bits of goodness floating around in the soup to give you some nice slurps.

The complete transformation of China in the past 20 years where cities are constantly churning out new high rises and modern developments haven’t been without a cost. There are plenty of scandals with land deals, holdout tenants, holdout owners, nail houses that are just build around and stripped of all amenities. Goldbuster jumps right into this with the last few tenants in an apartment building scheduled to be demolished refuse to leave.

The tenants include a widowed doctor who wishes that the ghost of his dead wife would appear so he could apologize for misdiagnosing her, and his young son who hasn’t spoken since she died. There is also a camgirl and failed actress who constantly wears bright outfits that stand out from the dull tones all around her. There are a pair of former Triads who have been hiding out from people trying to kill them for so long they’ve grown old and forgotten (and one believes he is some sort of deep cover cop), and there is a husband and wife who mismanaged their personal businesses and have nothing left. They’ve formed sort of a family by having nowhere else to go.

Developer Richie Xie (Shen Teng) and his dimwitted son Xu Tianyu (Yue Yunpeng) hire two goons to dress up as ghosts to scare out the holdouts. The tenants are frightened (except for the widowed doctor who is just upset the ghost isn’t that of his dead wife, like he wishes), but don’t want to leave even for supernatural reasons. They pool their money to hire a ghost busting exorcist that one of the residents heard about.

The ghostbuster Ling is of course Sandra Ng, and she knows from the get go this is all a scam. Sandra Ng is charming as usual as a character who is obviously full of scams but also motivated by greed and has a more complex side hidden beneath. While initially put off by the small sum of money offered, it turns out Ling also needs money. And the two fraud ghosts are easily scared themselves and soon believe the place actually is haunted. Xu Tianyu has joined them at this point, dressed as a classic Western vampire, and it is basically prank Halloween Home Alone for a few scenes.

Things take a crazy turn as suddenly a bunch of real Dawn of the Dead remake style fast zombies charge in and devour everyone in their path! Yes, we’ve switched movie genres at breakneck speed, as our heroes now have to avoid real zombies. The contrast between the 90s Hong Kong style ghost makeup and the 2010s style zombie makeup is like night and day, but just when you thought things were completely nuts the movie shifts gears and genres again, and suddenly is about evil capitalists exploiting both capitalism and the food faith of the Chinese people in order to make money in the new China.

That’s right, a movie about tossing people out of old construction so new construction can be built had scenes where old Hong Kong style movies are literally devoured by modern horrors. That’s an allegory so on the nose I’m surprised the movie didn’t just end there, but then the next gear switching spelled it out even more obviously, and brought back some old school 80s/90s film magic to save the day. This is a strangely smart film that takes broad shots at everything while honoring the past and ultimately accepting the future. I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would, and

As a complete aside, it was sort of interesting that the last film I saw in 2017 in the theaters (Gandarrappido!: The Revenger Squad) and the first film I saw in theaters in 2018 (this one!~) were both foreign films directed by women. Completely unplanned, it is just how things happened, but cool none the less.

Rated 7/10

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!