The remake of the 1987 movie A Chinese Ghost Story was launched on May 1 in China on Tencent Video. Titled The Enchanting Phantom, the director Lin Zhenzhao and the main actress Eleanor Lee were concerned on how the fans of A Chinese Ghost Story would respond to the remake. However it has been received positively so far. It is not easy to remake a classic as it could backfire and not live up to expectations. The fear of failure occurred to director Lin Zhenzhao and Singaporean actress Eleanor Lee, 20. Eleanor played the role that brought Taiwanese actress Joey Wong Choi-yin to fame in the late 1980s.
According to Lin, doing a remake of a classic is stressful for the director and cast. Although it brings a lot of publicity, Lin said that it is hard to outshine the original and fans might react negatively. He added that Eleanor lives in Singapore and is not well versed about classic Chinese culture. Because of that, she was stressed at the beginning of filming as she has big shoes to fill but Lin noted that the young actress is smart and she got used to it.
Luckily there is nothing to worry about as the movie did very well among fans in China. As cinemas are still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the movie was released exclusively on Tencent Video. The Enchanting Phantom garnered more than 170 million views and has earned more than 35 million yuan (SGD6 million). This amount is after splitting profits with Tencent Video and off a production budget of 23 million yuan (SGD4 million).
Lin shared that the reason why he directed the movie was that he adores the story and its origins. The story is based on Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Qing dynasty writer Pu Songling (1640-1715). The director watched the original movie when he was in primary school and he was excited to be part of the remake. He added that he wanted to use his own visual and narrative style to present it to the viewers. The original classic, A Chinese Ghost Story was produced by Hong Kong director Tsui Hark.
The movie stars Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing as Ning Choi Sun, a young tax collector who fell in love with a young woman named Nip Siu Sin (Joey Wong Choi-yin) who turned out to be a ghost. Nip is being controlled by an evil tree spirit who coerce her to woo careless men to feed on their yang (masculine) energy. Wong portrayed her character as a sultry temptress while Eleanor played her role with innocence and playfulness.
Eleanor was born in Taiwan and she studied in the Beijing Film Academy. She started her acting career in an iPhone mini-movie directed by Hong Kong director Ann Hui On-wah. Eleanor starred in a number of series and movies in China such as Tribes and Empires: Storm of Prophecy (2015) and The Big Boss (2017). Eleanor is one of the actresses who have played Nip. In other remakes of A Chinese Ghost Story, actresses such as Crystal Liu Yifei, Yang Mi, Barbie Hsu and Grace Yu Xiaofan has played the part. /TISG