A group of friends, with names like Big Bee, Rubbish and Biggie, perform a ritual to enable them to see ghosts. This is meant to be a fun game to pass the time, though it does involve drinking from a bowl of water mixed with fresh blood and using a tealight to burn ‘oil’ taken from a dead person’s body!
Ming is the only member of the group to refuse to take part (saying that the blood might have AIDS), but his girlfriend Annie joins in the odd game, which does unleash a creepy female ghost, who starts to kill off the friends one by one.
Rubbish is the first to die and Ming’s reporter sister Cissy starts to look into the case, along with her fiancé Jack. Cissy’s ex-boyfriend Mr. Mo, a drama teacher, also takes an interest in what is going on and he’s the one who comes up with most of the theories, including the idea that the group is being haunted by the ghost of the person whose ‘oil’ had been burned in the ritual.
Characters continue to die, with one of them tricked into stepping off the top of a high building and Biggie compelled to strangle her own mother before committing suicide. Ming becomes more and more concerned that Annie will soon become a victim too, so he teams-up with Mr. Mo to break the curse and discover the origin of the ghost. Their research leads them to the deserted Yellow Hill Village and they eventually learn that the black-haired, vengeful ghost is the spirit of a murdered woman called Cho Yan Mei.
More deaths ensue, including an old man who gets bumped off when a long metal pole falls from a roof and skewers him to the ground via his gaping mouth, in an OMEN-style moment. Mr. Mo, meanwhile, realises that it isn’t the ‘oil’ that connects all these victims to the spirit, so the search for a way to halt the killings continues, but time is running out for Annie and a desperate Ming intensifies his efforts to find the resting place of Cho Yan Mei’s body.
A WICKED GHOST is a pretty run-of-the-mill Hong Kong supernatural flick, directed in a competent fashion by Hung-Wah Leung. Leung also wrote the script and he does a better job here, supplying enough backstory to the curse and nuggets of new information to keep you watching.
One of these revelations involves Mr. Mo’s supposition that Cho Yan Mei’s murdered body is actually buried beneath a pond near Yellow Hill Village, which is linked to the local water supply somehow. Ming then realises that the angry ghost-force of Cho Yan Mei must have entered the various victims’ bodies “through the medium of water”.
Though Mr. Mo (Francis Ng) is the character who uncovers most of the facts, it is Ming (Gabriel Harrison) who is the film’s main character, but he proves to be such a frustratingly hesitant protagonist! In one sequence Annie, possessed by Cho Yan Mei, fills a bowl with prescription drugs and starts wolfing the tablets down like they’re sweets. Rather than physically trying to stop his girlfriend from munching all the pills, Ming just ineffectually looks on, asking her to wake up and stop eating the drugs. In a later scene the ever-hesitant Ming is in a position to actually stop the murders when he discovers a special bracelet that is capable of negating Cho Yan Mei’s powers… but he is so slow to take action, reaching out to Cho Yan Mei’s wrist in such a tentative manner, that she has time to evade the bracelet and attack him. It’s very frustrating!
The inspiration for the look of the malevolent spook in A WICKED GHOST is Sadako from RING, which was released the previous year and triggered the production of a whole bunch of Hong Kong RING knock-offs. There’s an okay moment involving the ghost walking directly behind a female character in a bar, and there’s also a fun scene in a bathroom, where Jack sees Cho Yan Mei’s hair, and then her hand, poking from a toilet bowl.
Most of the ghost scenes in this low budget film are achieved using actors in pale makeup, with very few optical effects, though this is acceptable, as this kind of story works just fine with brief glimpses of long hair hiding a ghost’s face or quick shots of a dark figure passing by doorways. But Hung-Wah Leung fails to include enough supernatural encounters in his tale and the film ends up sadly lacking in decent scares and tension.
With a plot that’s burdened with several extraneous characters (Cissy & Jack) and direction that’s rather lacklustre, A WICKED GHOST is, ultimately, a Hong Kong paranormal flick that is watchable but also quite forgettable.