Ghost Writer

Reviewed by: sukting

February 16, 2013

Rating: two-point-five

The protagonist of the series, Po Chung-ling, is based on the author of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, a collection of Chinese tales on the supernatural. The series tells how he was inspired to write those stories based on his personal encounters with the supernatural.

Story/Introduction on characters
1. Po Koon – Yue Wah He does everything for his son. Chung Ling mistakenly thinks that Poon is working in collusion with some corrupt officials, refuses to listen to what his father says. He only learns the sacrifices that he makes when he becomes a spirit for a while. Koon dies when Bak Ling seizes the family business.

2. Po Chung Ling – Mah Chun Wai Chung-Ling is born in Jinan a family of New Year print. He is very bright but also impulsive. Poon, has hoped that he can help him to carry on the family business. He loves Sum Yu all along but is touched when Siu Tsui saves him from death a few times.
He has thought that being an official can help the needy but realizes that things do not work his way. He resigns from his post to stay with a ghost and fox spirit to concentrate on his works. I am quite disappointed in Chun Wai’s acting here. It seems that the producer has made him to be a weakling to believe others easily.

3. Po Bak Ling – Chan Chin Pang He is Chung Ling’s elder cousin. He seduces Sum Yin and ditches her. He is cleared of killing her but he doesn’t wake up from his mistake. He wants full control of the business to frame Wing Han by bribing the housekeeper Wing Chun. The loyal Wing Chun chooses to reveal the whole matter and Bak Ling nearly gets arrested.
He still doesn’t stop and mixes poison in the New Year paintings to poison the clients to force Poon to pass the authority to him. He also works with Jung Bong and Chung to cheat money planned for flood victims. He gets Chung to be on the run after claiming that he is the only culprit. However, he keeps extorting Jung Bong so Jung Bong gets Jit to kill him. He finally repents before he dies when being with his family.

4. Po Hak Ling – Mok Hoi Him He is Chung Ling’s younger brother who has fits. Luckily, Sum Yu discovers the cause and cures him. He is her matchmaker to bring her and Chung Ling together.

5. Lau Sum Yu –Chung Kar Yan The Po family has secured a large order of New Year print. To ensure the work can be finished in time they have to hire a large numbers of female workers. Sum Yu applies for the job, but her real intention is to look for the man who is unfaithful to her elder sister, Sum Yin (cameo appearance by Yiu Chi Ling). She has thought that Chung Ling forsakes her but it is Bak Ling. They resolve their misunderstanding and she stays in Ji Nan to cure the sick in Ho’s inn.

She is later caught in a love triangle with Chung Ling and Siu Tsui. She is sad that Siu Tsui keeps hanging around Chung Ling and warns him but he will not listen to her. Finally, they are reunited but she forsakes her chance of getting reincarnated to be with him. Kar Yan’s performance is only acceptable her as it is a reprise of a pitiful role. It is quite boring to see Chun Wai and Kar Yan to be paired up so many times. Can’t they find others to act together?

6. Ling Wu Siu Tsui – Chen Fa La Siu Tsui is a fox deity which is rescued by Poon when young. She comes to Chung Ling’s rescue to return a past favour. She later disguises as a man to get close to him. As they spend more and more time together, Siu Tsui starts to fall for Chung Ling. She hopes to be with him to seek the fox spirit’s help.
She is too foolish to show her true form when trying to save the fox spirit by using her blood. Sum Yu is determined to shake her off to think that she is evil. After framing Sum Yu, she feels remorseful. When seeing the couple dead and wanting to make amends, she gives up her 500 year inner strength. However, her pill can only save a person so Sum Yu gives it to Chung Ling. Her impersonation as a man is good and her acting improves but her crying scenes can be better.

7. Ko Jit – Chan Kam Hung He is Chung Ling’s good friend. Jit is a constable and he hates corrupt officials too. His split personality develops when he discovers that Sum Yu is only going to marry him to save him from dying from injuries caused by Chung.
There are rumours has it that a fox spirit is creating troubles in Jinan. He investigates to kill the fox spirit to frame it for killing Chung and turning Sum Yu into a fox spirit. The turning of Sum Yu into a fox spirit is actually the doing of Siu Tsui. He also kills Sum Yu to prevent her from coming to life and also kills Chung Ling to prevent them to be together. He is later killed by his own kind personality. Kam Hung doesn’t act very well here. His delivery here is very bland.

8. Yip Wing Han – Chan Sau Chu She is formerly Chung Ling’s mother’s maid. She marries Poon out of gratitude. Chi Ming poisons her potion when she is pregnant with Huk Ling. Chi Ming, Bo Yin and Bak Ling try to frame her for corruption but luckily she is cleared. Poon leaves the New Year Print business to her as he trusts no one else and she manages it well.

9. Leung Pik Yuk – Chu Wai Mun She is Bak Ling’s wife who is childless and is bitter when Bak Ling falls for Chun To. She goes to the fox spirit temple to beg for help. That is a stupid act when she later gets possessed by the fox spirit. She forces Chun To to die and turns Bo Yin mad.
She also attempts to seduce Chung Ling to lie to Bak Ling that she is molested by him to create discord between them. Jit later pours yellow wine on her, burns her painting and cut her tail to force her out. When she is about to make use of Siu Tsui further, Jit kills her and Pik Yuk regains her senses. She then becomes a nun after being a good person. Wai Mun is the only person who shines in the drama as the evil vixen.

10. Tung Chi Ming – Kong Wing Fai He is Chung Ling’s uncle who is as selfish as his late sister. His sister is afraid that Chung Ling will lose favour once she is dead. Thus, she gets him to poison Wing Han. He colludes with Bak Ling to incriminate Wing Han. The fox spirit enters Pik Yuk’s body to seduce him. He is later locked up for the corruption case done with Bak Ling. After being released, he returns to help in the family business.

11. Chu Po Yin – Lau Yuk Cui She is as evil as Chi Ming. Being his wife, she is jealous when Chi Ming gives Pik Yuk a jade pendant. She confronts her and is dismayed to learn that she is a fox spirit. She becomes frightened and turns mad. The fox spirit nearly lures her to drown herself in the well but luckily she is discovered by a maid. She later gets well and helps in the family business too.

12. Song Ho – Bak Yan She opens an inn and pins all her hopes on Jit. She helps Jit to woo Sum Yu too but she is a fair person. She brings Sum Yu’s body to court to prove Jit guilty and tries to get him to repent.

13. Ling Wu Gat Cheung – Law Lok Lam He is Siu Tsui's grandfather who is also kind. He helps bringing Chung Ling back to life and regrets allowing Siu Tsui to mix with the humans to create so many mistakes.

14. Ngai Chung – Li Tin Cheung He is the Head of Magistrate's police force. He is also Hung's non-owned brother and Jit's direct supervisor. He is an enemy with it to always bully him and framing him. Jit later kills him when he is on the run to get away from the corruption case.

15. Ngai Hung – Li See Yan She is Chung's non-blood sister and Jung Bong's biological daughter. Ngai family adopts her to use her as a bait against Jung Bong. She is pampered and keeps finding fault with Jit. She later loves him and Jit makes use of her to get betrothed. She bears him a son, Sheng after his death and hopes he will not follow his footsteps.

16. Ma Yuk Sing – Lau Kong He is Jung Bong's direct supervisor. He has a daughter and hopes to find a good family for her. She likes Siu Tsui’s man form, mistakening Chung Ling’s name for him. Poon breaks the family tradition to put her as the drawing to please him to get into trouble instead. He later releases Poon and is glad that his daughter finally knows why she is betrothed to a prince for her sake. He helps Chung Ling to get the corrupt officials arrested.

17. Cheng Jung Bong – Lau Dan He is Chung's uncle and Hung's father. He is always against Yuk Sing and both spar with each other in court for power.

He is unhappy when Hung’s mother marries another official and kills the man. He buries him in the forest and Hung’s mother kills herself after giving birth to Hung. He gets Chung’s father to find a family to adopt Hung but the Ngais keep her instead. He doesn’t like Chung to keep extorting him so he gets Jit to kill him.

Jit has helped him to acknowledge Hung so he helps him to become the chief constable. Jit traps him to dig up the corpse to arrest him and he finds that he has trusted the wrong person. Jit wants to uphold justice but his character is twisted now.

18. Chun To – Sum Bo Yee She is a worker at New Year Print. She gets her job through stealing glances with Chi Ming so Sum Yu kicks up a big fuss. She conspires with Bak Ling to frame Chung Ling in front of Poon to lie that he is the one who flirts with her. She later becomes Bak Ling’s mistress and is pregnant with his baby so this makes Pik Yuk seek her revenge.

19. Chung Nu Dong – Yu Yeung He is a kind magistrate and he is of a higher authority than Chung. Chung keeps using Jung Bong to suppress him. He isn’t afraid and seeks Yuk Sing help.

20. Song Chuen – Cheng Chun Hung He is Jit’s cousin who works at the inn. He idolizes him and is dismayed to know his wrongdoings. He helps to look after his nephew after Jit’s death.

Interesting facts
Chun Wai found it a challenge to act out Chung Ling’s struggle in brotherhood and love life. Reporters asked if he got mad with Kar Yan for acting poorly as she was sick to tell her to return home. He denied and was even amused when knowing that the rumour got out of hand to say that he demanded the producer to get someone to replace her.

He never knew that he had so much authority and would tell others to isolate her. He clarified that he treated both actresses like his younger sisters. Kam Hung and he even got a cake for her on her birthday. So the rumours should not be believed. He found her improving a lot in pronunciation especially on Chinese medical terms.

Kar Yan found Sum Yu a strong person who wants to protect Pu family from harm. She could not imagine how noble she is to share her husband with another woman. She found that only seniors with more experience can bring out this virtue. She was still too young to bring out the maturity.

Although Kar Yan had worked with Fa La in many dramas, they had not acted opposite each other. She found Fa La having the potential and admired her for acting well as a man. Fa La added lots of small gestures to act as a fox spirit. The three of them had acted in ‘A Journey of Life’ before so they had no problems in communication. Fa La was grateful to Chun Wai for guiding her in period dramas to give her the confidence.

This was her second period drama after ‘In the Eye of the Beholder’. The first drama was not exactly a historical period drama and this time, she was not acting as a human. She watched documentaries on foxes on their movement. She learned more on Chinese folktales and culture. Traditional Chinese stress on loyalty and rules. Veteran actress, Lee See Kei was happy for her and many also told her to act well. Lee had said that it was a good role for pretty women. She was glad to have so much support.

Chun Wai was often given periodic roles and he had read Pu Song Ling’s works before but he did not know much about the author. He tried looking for more information from bookshops and internet but the information was too brief. He could only imagine his character through his works. One thing he was certain on how Pu was unwilling to bow down to officials.

Ratings in Hong Kong was from 29 to 37 points.

TVB Anniversary Awards (2010) nominations : Best Drama, Best Actor (Ma Chun Wai), Best Actress (Chung Kar Yan), Best Actress (Fala Chen) and Most Improved Actress (Yiu Chi Ling)

Most favourite character None, all proved to be disappointing.

Most hated character Siu Tsui. All tell her that humans and spirits can’t coexist but she refuses to listen. It is till she sees death then she starts blaming herself.

Song The theme song is心竅, clear thought sung by Chun Wai. It sounds creepy but the MTV is weird to have Chun Wai in modern wear to sing in the ending of every episode.

Conclusion It is a very boring drama right from the start. I don’t know why it must become a 25 episode lengthy drama with so many tearjerker scenes. I have thought that I can get to see plenty of spirits in the drama but alas, there are only three fox spirits and nothing else. It stress too much on Chung Ling’s love and family relationships instead. Chung Ling’s distinctive personality isn’t depicted clearly. Only watch it if you have the time.

Sukting’s ratings :
On acting : *** (Scale of 5)
On story : **1/2 (Scale of 5)
On song : *** (Scale of 5)

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