|As I was preparing to post my review of Chinese movie Ghost for Sales today, I learned that the star of this movie, Ricky Hui, died this morning. This is sad, of course. Ricky Hui starred in dozens of golden era Hong Kong movies, and his distinctive looks, his understated comedic acting style, and his deft martial artistry were a reliable staple of so many weird and goofy movies. That he died on the day I posted my first review of him seems like the kind of coincidence that would only happen in the world of a Hong Kong movie. RIP, Ricky Hui. Such as it is, this movie review is for you.|
You might think that a movie titled Ghost for Sales would have a ghost that was for sale. Or perhaps a salesman of ghosts, trying to ply his trade. Or perhaps a ghostly sales clerk, or a ghostly job seeker, looking for some employment in sales. But this is a Hong Kong produced Chinese movie, not a Hollywood film. So of course this movie is none of those things. Instead, Ghost for Sales is a delightfully mixed up, Three-Stooges-style knock off of Ghost Busters.
Ricky Hui, along with his friend and his uncle, make up the bumbling ghost-busting trio of this film. Ricky uses the typical Taoist priest strategies of fighting ghosts, using mirrors and magical post-it notes and hexagrams and wooden swords, etc. His inventor friend prefers a more scientific method of busting ghosts. Apparently his scientific research involved watching Ghost Busters a few times:
|Who you gonna call?|
Just try to tell me this isn't a Ghost Busters rip-off:
But, just like Spooky Family immediately abandoned its initial purpose of ripping off the Addams Family, Ghost for Sales quickly veers off into a goofy, all-over-the-map Hong Kong movie. The result is part low-budget Ghost Busters parody, part wirework flying kung fu historical piece, part "sleazy corporate world versus honest fellow" feel-good movie, part Three Stooges buddy movie, part relationship movie, ... and the list goes on.
This is how Ricky Hui, Taoist Priest, wakes up in the morning!
The plot of Ghost for Sales is just plain weird. There's an amusement park, which is run by an evil, corporate, plutocratic amusement park baron:
|Evil Corporate Amusement Park Baron|
|He played too much of this as a kid.|
Meanwhile Ricky Hui and the rest of the Ghost for Sales crew have been goofing around exterminating ghosts and pulling nonsensical pranks in a haunted brothel. Somehow they wander onto the amusement park grounds with special "ghost wave finding" hand held GPS machines. These machines are used to measure exactly the place you should never ever put haunted corpses. And, yes, it turns out that the location the Roller Coaster Tycoon has in mind for his corpses is coincidentally the very worst place to put corpses in all of Hong Kong.
|Yeah, I'd look worried too|
And then there are the translation errors. I have to assume they are translation errors. Like the title of the movie itself: "Ghost for Sales" can hardly be accurate, can it? Numerous times characters will say something that makes no sense and leads to nothing, so I can only assume it's a translation error. Like when this magical angel tells the Ghost for Sales crew to "go & find a junkie":
|You mean like William Burroughs?|
Then there are times when the subtitle guy seems to be actively rebelling, and mistranslating things on purpose! Like the conversation that is perfectly normal for a while, but then suddenly everything that is said is simply translated as "Fart":
|We're farting here.|
And then there are the fight scenes, which are well executed but full of WTF moments.
I like how this monk tries "Abracadabra!" as a magic spell to banish this ghost.
And I like how it doesn't work.
And I like how they play around mixing Taoist ghost busting techniques from Hong Kong movies with the weird mechanical inventions of Ghost Busters:
Bottom Line of this Chinese Movie Review: Ghost for Sales is a real delight from the Gweilo's perspective. Recommended!