I just watched this recent release of a Chinese movie starring Alex Fong Chun Shun, Yuen Wah and Pinky Cheung of the horror genre.
Comprising the elements of a typical Chinese horror movie; such as the charms, the deities, the medium, fierce and revengeful ghosts, kind spirits, eerie places, et etc, this movie is your day to day modern Hong Kong movie. Also, throw in a little element of romance and bham, you have a full blown Hong Kong horror movie :)
Well, this movie is not all that bad compared to the last Chinese horror movie I watched; Heirloom...maybe I can talk about it in my next entry. Anyway, as I was saying, this movie was pretty entertaining and the pace of the movie was just nice; with the alternate rhythmic climaxes which kept you hooked to the screen. Sure, they do have some lame jokes once in a while, but they are bearable and kept the audience entertained:) Somehow, lame jokes are still deemed funny when you are in the cinema...probably due to the environment as well and the crowd<*wink*>
To cut a long story short, the story revolves around Alex, who after his colleague's death on which he was blamed for negligence on duty, vowed to avenge his death by hunting down the culprit and bring him to justice. Along with another colleague, they made a pact that the revenge will be their main goal for the justice of their dead colleague.
At the same time, Alex's 7th aunt, played by Law Lan, was at her deathbed and his sister constantly paged for him to see her for the last time. As the story goes, Alex coincidentally bumped into the murderer while fixing the antenna for his colleague on the rooftop of the apartment and the bad guy just happened to be there fixing the antenna for his buddy; ermmm...messing the antennas to be exact which annoyed Alex. So, he actually reprimanded him when he realized that this was the guy responsible for his colleague's death which led to a fight that ensued.
During the struggle, Alex shot the guy who fell from the building but not without first warning him that he will be back from the netherworld for revenge. Alex was spooked and at the same time, his dying aunt urged for his visit. He rushed to the hospital immediately and found out the secret his aunt was trying to tell him; he has the gift of the third eye - he can actually see the dead and also spirits. According to his aunt, this gift is actually passed from generation to generation; for the 7th descendant in the family. As the 7th predecessor passed on to the netherworld, the next successor in line will automatically inherit this ability. Alex soon found out about his gift and freaked out...hilarious=)
There were also his transfer to the 7th police station....yup, everything's 7..also, Alex's is also called Seven in the movie;) Actually in Christianity or the Western belief, 7 is actually a significant and sacred number:) Guess it also applies to the Chinese community as most of the numbers are related; such as 7 days of spirit return, 7x7 - 49 days, etc etc.
Back to the storyline, Alex encountered a devout believer in Yuen Wah in the police station who gave him the survival guide on dealing with the world beyond and also at the same time, he has to face a superior who is a skeptic and frowns upon all forms of deity worship which she dismissed as mere superstition. Then Alex meets a pretty lady who works with him in the file archiving room.
After the 7 days, as believed by the Chinese, the spirit came back; a ferocious one which goes around causing trouble to everyone; including an attempt to rape Alex's superior. The dead guy's wife, Pinky, was contacted by his spirit to help avenge. Eventually Pinky committed suicide to join forces with her vengeful spirit of a husband. The scene where she returned as a ghost was pretty funny; with her trying to scare them and they were pretending so hard not to see her...hahaha:)
Anyhow, they went up to the rooftop for the battle and Yuen Wah ordered them to divert the lightning to strike the spirits as well as diminish them forever. Alex was devastated when he learns that his girlfriend was also a ghost; used to be a police officer in the police station but got involved in a car accident in which she died. So the movie ended on that note whereby the good triumphed over the evil.
The few elements which were common and also known in the religious aspect in relation to the superstition practised in the Chinese community...actually more towards the Taoism belief are :
1. Charms can put off the spirits
2. Spirits returning after 7 days of their death - reason being they were confused(as mentioned by Yuen Wah in the movie as well). When a person dies, they will have to go through a tunnel to get to the other side and this takes about 3 days in the living world. On the 4th day, they will stop by a stream to wash their hands and that's when they realized their fingernails have turned black which indicates their death. Then they will sadly return to see their loved ones for the last time; taking another three days. However, this, in the netherworld is equivalent to 1 day. Do not ask me about the calendar or clock system and how they differ as I don't know:p
3. Ghosts fear the deities(duh!) - Yuen Wah dressed himself as Kwan Gong and that kept the ferocious spirit at bay.
4. The contact with the other side through medium - using the rice; that's why they called it "Querying rice" (man mai in Cantonese).
5. Red chopsticks - using a pair of red chopsticks to tweak the index fingers of a person who is possessed can force the spirit to leave the body.
6. Dying in red attire - it is believed that people who wore red when they die(typically associated with suicide cases) will return as vengeful spirits to haunt the dead and to claim the lives of those offended them.
7. Vow before death - it is also believed that those who do not die willingly will return from the dead.
8. Lightning strike spirits - my grandma also used to tell me that lightning is controlled by a Lightning and Thunder deity who acts to chase away all the wandering and troublesome spirits still roaming among the living. Those who are caught will be struck and this may lead to their soul being banished forever.
9. Exorcism by religion - to cast a spirit away using the deitites, it's believed that the most effective way is through the channel of religion the spirit followed while alive - they fear their God. (probably a myth - how about those demonic possession? Do you think the spirits would care for a discussion on their religion when you are about to cast them out?)
Perhaps I can further discuss on these superstitions in the future:)