Wildstar's Anime Review

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Chinese Ghost Story

I meant to send a review of this amazing and exciting movie a soon as it came out a couple of weeks ago, but relocating has not allowed me the opportunity.

Technically, the video seems to be taken from a scratchy cinema reel, but I believe this is the best we'll ever see. So while its not crystal clear, I'm not going to complain too much. But if only they would learn to take better care of their masters. I swear, VHS was never this bad! And since I'm not a technical guy anyway, all I can say is that the video and audio were "not too bad"! But the content is another story. This is certainly one of the highlights of my animation experience this year along with "Princess Mononoke". Non-stop and VERY creative action carries you through this breathtakingly Asian production. This was my first look at Hong Kong Cinema and Tsui Hark, but let me tell you, his class shines through as a GREAT movie maker up there with the likes of Miyazake, Tomino, Mamoru Oshi, Shoji Kawamori, Anno and others we all love and respect. This is a work of art, and the artistry is clear in every frame despite some of the movie's drawbacks such as incongruous Computer Graphics. But this movie rises above such problems, which may doom other productions, because its a non-compromising ASIAN love story. This is not watered down Hollywood garbage, this is ASIAN cinema which holds tightly to its traditional cultural roots. Its unique traditional beauty is evident in everything from the dialogue and plot to the action and music. Trust me, you have not seen anything like this before in either anime nor Hollywood.

But I must warn you, DO NOT WATCH THE ENGLISH DUBBED VERSION. Please excuse my rude large capital letters, but I have NEVER heard such an insulting dub in all my anime life. They have once again damaged a work of art beyond repair by "dumbing" it down to American tastes. The English dub is absolutely unbearable. How many times must we fans put up with this treatment? I don't know the answer, but some "higher up" has no clue what they're doing. Characters which were cool and dignified beyond belief in the Chinese version, are suddenly Surfer Valley Girls in the English dub, spouting garbage lines that go something like "I'm gonna kick your butt Bone Head!" In this manner, very classy action sequences with little dialogue, are filled with corny American cliches. Unfortunately the entire movie is reduced through this treatment to the worst type of saturday morning teeny-bopper cartoon. The Mighty Pokemon must be blamed for this outrage! Next thing we'll see Nausicaa voiced by the girl from "Clueless".

And in addition to destroying the classy dialogue, they even ruin the musical numbers by reducing their volume and even reducing their strong Dance grooves. There are a couple of THRILLING songs in the Chinese version which were completely reduced for the dub: Strong drum beats were removed and beautiful Asian Techno style Pop songs were changed and reduced in importance. What are the producers saying about American tastes? Is it that "Americans like dumb senseless dialogue and bad music?" This is obviously not the case, but these "higher ups" seem to think so.

Are they worried that American viewers just can't bear a to hear a REALLY REALLY cool soundtrack and will turn their TV's off because of it? Until these money grubbing producers learn otherwise and start respecting the Art work of other cultures, I'm afraid that Masterpieces such as "A Chinese Ghost Story" will be neither accepted by their target Pokemon-crazed audience, nor by older more mature viewers like us.

So please avoid the Dub and you won't be sorry on this one! And you know what, I liked it so much, I'm going to go watch it again right now. Man do I love that pounding soundtrack! And thanks to Tsui Hark, I think I'm beginning to see why people dig Hong Kong action flicks so much. Gotta go, my DVD is calling me!

My Review at Mania.com

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