The first half of the film also has an extended series of stop motion animations (!) featuring shriveled corpses that are trying to kill the hero as he stays in the temple ruins. Through a series of comedic mishaps and coincidences Ling remains blissfully unaware of the zombies and unknowingly foils their every move, eventually killing them with sunlight without ever noticing their presence. This combination of scares, tension, humor and irony (totally unrelated to the main story) gives a good sense of how the film operates.
An enormous tongues seizing the protagonist!
One thing that Siu-Tung Ching uses for setting an ephemeral, graceful mood is the constant presence silky drapes. I can understand why Lit wears them, since it gives her a ghostly, enrobed beauty and adds a tactile association to her allure. Where it starts to get out of hand is when they show up as backgrounds, weapons and even roads.
The film is geared more towards action, effects and style than towards character development and stellar writing (it is a Hong Kong movie after all), but the ensemble deserves credit for giving the film an emotional core and lovable caricatures. Leslie Cheung, as Ling, is charmingly likable in the sort of Hugh Grant way where he wins us over even as we hate his films. Joey Wang earned hordes of adoring fans in an endearing role that has the requisite amount of sexiness and vulnerability to meet horror film standards and enough depth and range to create actual romantic chemistry. The swordfighter/monk, tree spirit, Lord Black and the rest of the cast fulfill their jobs with great vigor if not psychological insight or realistic dialogue. I especially enjoyed the local police, who obsessively and aggressively accost everyone with such unwarranted passion that it bordered on surrealism.