The Chinese Ghost Buster

I recently stumbled upon this series. I am a fan of Law Lok Lam so of course I dived in and watched. I must admit that it was disappointing for an ATV series. Yes, I usually liked it for most ATV series that I watched in the past. There were exceptions, but not by much. This time, I went from excitement to disappointment so fast it wasn’t even funny. I got it that back then some effects weren’t that good yet for the fantasy/folktale themes. It was 1988 after all. Yet what I was disappointed in was the plot. All the cast involved, I thought, did really good. However, the plot was getting repetitive after some of the initial stories. It just deteriorated after like the first three cases and then stretched out the main plot to the point of excruciating. Not to mention the character developments seemed non-existent. Then near the end, they just wrapped it by making some fast changes. The series as a whole crashed and burned just because of the lack of development and poor planning on the pace as an overall.

I liked the Zhong siblings’ closeness throughout. They were both so stubborn, so like one another–yet it was because they cared for one another. Considering how both of their parents passed away when they were so young. They only had each other. I also liked it that she wasn’t easily pushed around like I initially thought she would be the weakling, crying girl waiting for people to save her. It passed after some initial scenes. It was understandable that she was freaked out coming into contact with some paranormal beings. I liked it that she was able to fend for herself afterward–more or less.

The other relationship or bonding I liked in here was Zhong Gui (鍾馗) and Du Ping (杜平)’s friendship. At first, Du Ping was also scared of Zhong Gui–because of his appearance–like everyone else. However, he later became a loyal friend and even put down his pride to accept lesser payments for his drawings so he could bring Zhong Gui’s body back home. After learning that Zhong Gui got revived to fulfill his new destiny in slaying ghosts/demons, he stayed and helped. At least, it was as much as he could. He wasn’t doing it just because of Zhong Gui’s sister either. He was serious about it.

Now, what I had a beef with was how sloppy it was with character developments. The only person consistent throughout was Zhong Gui since he was stubborn at times, righteous at others, and have his weaknesses yet he was a good person overall. I couldn’t say the same for Du Ping and Zhong Ling (鍾靈). Du Ping seemed to like Zhong Ling at first–or so I thought. Yet it wasn’t so, which I wouldn’t want to force him either. Then he went on his journey and met his destined lover (or so it seemed), then a tragedy happened so they weren’t able to stay together. It was clear. Yet what lacking for me was how eventually he accepted Zhong Ling as well. I got it, he had to move on eventually and I didn’t want him to stay sad and miserable and moping over her all of his life either. But he claimed so persistently in the past that he wasn’t interested in Zhong Ling, he just didn’t feel it. Then all of a sudden he accepted her just like that? The plot was a mess. It didn’t make sense. I got the argument with how Zhong Ling was hurting so much that she wanted to pretend he was dead so she could move on and how he was upset that she would treat him as if he was dead. Yet I didn’t get how fast they got together just after that brief argument. It was like the scriptwriters just wanted to give up.

Now, with Zhong Ling, it was also a mess on her own story/character, not just in relation to Du Ping either. Like I said, I liked it that she managed to take care of herself, for the most part, considering how she also knew martial arts. It was something her brother didn’t have to worry about as much–although he couldn’t stop worrying completely. However, I didn’t like it that the scriptwriters kept moving her character back and forth between being reasonable and unreasonable. I got it that some of her reactions were due majorly to her stubborn nature. Like how she didn’t understand how Du Ping didn’t like her. It hurt her pride. However, it made her character reasonable when she finally met Du Ping’s beloved and realized the other lady wasn’t what she made her out to be. I liked it that she was upfront about it too and apologized for misunderstanding the latter. I also got it that she was upset when she found out the other lady was actually a ghost and was possibly conning Du Ping. The worst part was that Du Ping didn’t believe her, even misunderstanding her for making up a story so Du Ping would change his mind. Yet what bugged me to no end was how she jumped from sympathizing with Du Ping and his lover’s fate to aggressively chasing Du Ping again briefly after the other lady’s death. It was uncalled for. Or again, the writers just wanted to give up. I know they wanted to get those two together yet still include the tragic romance with the ghost lady. It was all right with me, but they didn’t pace it right. Then they made Zhong Ling too desperate that it became annoying. They totally threw her character under the bus, thinking that was the way to go. I clap her feisty nature, but I didn’t like how the scriptwriters killed it with pace. They should have planned it better. They had plenty of time to waste on episode fillers for the later stories–which was non-existence with the development until the last episode. Did they rush the story just to ruin Zhong Ling’s character completely? She didn’t need to be a doormat character, but there had to be some balance with the pace. It made her really unreasonable–like said before.

I think the later parts of the story, even the demons’ side had more story developments–with their scheming and all–than the supposedly good side. What irked me even more was how they allowed Du Ping’s character to grow and even learned some martial arts and also some abilities to help Zhong Gui later yet didn’t do anything to Zhong Ling’s character. She was just there to fight over a man? That was it? Sure, she did some stuff near the end that the scriptwriters wanted to make it seemed epic. But that was so anti-climatic to me that I just wanted to roll my eyes at them. They just made her character appeared useless by the end.

Perhaps, the reason why I was so upset with the way things turned out with the series was because I am a major fan of Law Lok Lam and also Choi Sin Yee. They portrayed a couple in The Four Detective Guards, which I really liked them for in that series yet they had a tragic ending. Of course, because of their roles in this story, it would be too weird to think of that. But I liked Choi Sin Yee and would have loved it if they gave her some other things to do besides throwing tantrums because she didn’t get the man. Or worse, making her appear so brainless at times, although she meant well for the most part regarding her concerns for her brother. I wouldn’t want her to hog the scene too much since Law Lok Lam was the main character after all. But she was indeed one of the main cast and they did somewhat made her seemed like an important character yet didn’t let her contribute in a meaningful way at all. It was just romances throughout and somewhat of a loose contribution in the finale.

So recommended? NOPE. One of the rare times I don’t recommend an ATV series.

Coincidentally

Another third watch from an ATV series. Not to mention it was a ghost related theme as well.

Likes:

  • Frankie and Annie as a couple. I always liked this pairing and thought it was brilliant to pair them up in here. They matched wit per wit yet was not overboard at all. OR possibly how either party didn’t want to back down that made it even funnier at times. How they both changed for each other later was equally convincing.
  • Eric Wan. His character was kind and nice in here but it wasn’t overboard with the extremely nice guy not expecting anything back. That would be overdoing it with advertising the nice guy image. But he was just a regular character. It seemed like there was nothing special about him but he was a loyal friend and a brilliant character at his own right.
  • Mak Ging Ting. She seemed fierce and only cared for business at first yet she had a kind heart and was very caring toward her girls. Though there was some persuasion at work and bargaining involved, she seemed much braver and reliable than some so-called appropriately behaved or well-mannered people. Her righteous nature was shown near the end with how she was willing to go out of her way to help them and how she stuck around for the last battle, knowing too well she would be in danger.
  • Kristal Tin. I did not realize that was her as Annie’s sister until my second re-watch but still want to mention that she was one of my favorites and Kristal did a good job as always. Touching scenes between her and Annie at the beginning. It really showed both sisters were similar instead of how they were opposites like other series like to portray with siblings. Also, fun to see her relationship with her classmate unfolding and the events that followed. It actually tied in later with the main story and benefited them (aka Ma’s father).
  • Lam Ching Ying. It wouldn’t be a ghost-related series without him and he delivered again. Brief appearances here and there but it was worth it seeing him at various points and helping them.
  • Yeung Ka Lok and Wong Mei. A somewhat funny and touching story at the same time. It was fun to see his reactions every time he heard some news relating to her or how she came to his shop and he was not really paying attention to what he was doing. It was fun to see the little ghost kid appearing here and there also. And how it was giving us clues and hints that YKL’s character would actually be his (the ghost kid’s) father in the next life since he was able to see the ghost kid but others might not.
  • Wong Mei Fun. It was extremely funny to see her at times–either being crazily obsessed with being a call girl OR being mean to others.
  • The remaining of the supporting cast. They were there at times to do their parts and it was not forced at all. Yes, the story did revolve around certain characters but because of the side stories and the supporting cast, it made it even more interesting and bearable, especially during frustrating scenes.

Dislikes:

  • Kristy Yang’s character. I don’t know. I usually like the quiet, loyal, supportive character over the loud ones YET I can’t seem to like her character at all in here. What made it even more annoying was her nagging nature and her whole thing with always wanting to stick by the others’ side when she CAN’T even help at all. It made it ten times worse for them since they needed to go do important stuff YET were caught because she insisted on following them. It wasn’t like she had the capabilities of protecting herself OR help them. She just wanted to tag along just because everyone was going. The whole idea with her getting it so fast at the end was unconvincing though it had to be that way. Yes, she realized that she was too stubborn and choosing not to believe, that was all true. BUT it wasn’t convincing with how she finally let go. But I guess whatever worked. Somehow, I didn’t like the idea of her ending up with Eric Wan’s character either though they did match, it seemed like she didn’t deserve him and not the other way around. It was good to be loyal to someone YET her annoying actions made it unforgivable. Not to mention how she caused trouble for Eric Wan’s characters numerous times. I didn’t want to use the ‘she did not know’ excuse for her since it was too unforgivable. It almost caused his life–twice.
  • Chapman To’s character. Honestly, he was one annoying character and his existence was just to cause more trouble and the drive to causing David Siu’s character to go completely insane. He and the other elders weren’t any better because he kept picking on David Siu’s character by calling him (David Siu) names, etc. That was beyond cruel and like he (David Siu) wanted to be that way.

Recommended or not? Depends on if you’re interested in ghost-related themes. Then there’s the whole idea with willing to understand some very intriguing stuff presented in here. Again, like I said in the other review, you don’t have to believe it to understand it. Your choice to watch or not.