Newest Reviews
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
Diana's Wedding
Toll, The
Two of Us
Nowhere Special
Rainbow Jacket, The
Crazy Samurai: 400 vs 1
First Cow
Undiscovered Tomb
Being Frank
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
  Portrait of a Nymph Nymphomania!
Year: 1988
Director: Wu Ma
Stars: Joey Wong, Yuen Biao, Wu Ma, Lawrence Ng, Elizabeth Lee, Zhilun Xue, Yuen Wah, Lam Wai, May Lo Mei-Mei, Yip So
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Martial Arts, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Long ago in China, an abandoned baby floats down river to be discovered by Taoist ghost-hunter, Wu Men-Chu (Wu Ma), who is happily bathing and singing a jaunty bath-time tune. Welcoming this as a sign from God, Wu raises the infant as his student and he grows into righteous swordsman Shih Erh (Yuen Baio). Elsewhere, a wedding procession is attacked by the malevolent King Ghost (Elizabeth Lee), with bride-to-be Mo Chiu (Joey Wong - who else?) cruelly slain and reborn as restless ghost maiden. Years later, Shih Erh befriends gormless scholar Tsui Hung-Chien (Lawrence Ng), inside whose artwork Mo Chiu takes refuge. Having fallen in love, the pair incur the wrath of intolerant Wu, while kind-hearted Shih Erh strives to protect them from the netherworld.

In response to the global success of A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), Hong Kong film giants Golden Harvest snagged its leading lady Joey Wang and co-star Wu Ma to replicate the hit-making formula, with the latter doubling as director. Overshadowed by his role in the A Chinese Ghost Story series, Ma’s distinguished directorial career spanned several decades where, alongside swordplay epics and crime thrillers, he made supernatural adventures like The Dead and the Deadly (1983). He proved the right man for the job, although sadly his subsequent output - including Foxy Spirits (1991), Exorcist Master (1993) and Chinese Ghostbuster (1994) - were entirely imitations, each worse than the last.

While Portrait of a Nymph blatantly apes the flowing silks, dry ice and blue-filtered aesthetics of its famous progenitor (right down to the rapping Taoist!), it introduces a handful of concepts the later Chinese Ghost Story movies would adopt as their own. The father-son relationship between the ghost-busting Taoists compensates for the lacklustre leading man in Lawrence Ng, whose klutzy scholar shares little chemistry with Joey Wong’s lovelorn lady-ghost. While charming as always, Wong is on auto-pilot, clearly marking time between her later, more ambitious supernatural roles. Scene-stealer Elizabeth Lee proves more animated, exuding sensual malevolence as the monster with a vendetta against all brides.

Amidst much philosophizing about love, heroism and justice in an unjust world, this boils down to an intriguing clash between the secular and spiritual worlds, with Wu despairing of mortal men, while the more tolerant and idealistic Shih Erh defends true love. One wonders why the makers didn’t ditch the dull scholar and make Shih Erh their love interest, although his own romantic subplot comes to a tragic end. Wu Ma pads out his plot, taking too long to draw the strands together, but production design, special effects and fight choreography by Sammo Hung are all outstanding.

Grace notes of otherworldly beauty include paper cranes that come to life (an especially charming special effect) , a leap through the portrait into an ethereal world made of flowing white silk and an amazing battle between flying red rickshaws zapping each other like UFOs. Coupled with a poetic ending, these flights of fancy are worthy of Jean Cocteau, which means, while no substitute for the original, this remains one of the better imitators.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 4980 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf


Last Updated: