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  Happy Ghost II Mean Girls pick on Pik
Year: 1985
Director: Clifton Ko
Stars: Raymond Wong, Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying, May Lo Mei-Mei, Charine Chan Ka-Ling, Gigi Fu Ming-Hin, Melvin Wong, Tang Kei-Chan, Jeanne Kanai, Chan Man-Na, Tsui Kwong-Lam
Genre: Comedy, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: New girl in school Yiu King (Charine Chan Ka-Ling) is drawn into the so-called Meanies Club, a trio of troublemaking teenagers led by finger-snapping Cherie Dai (Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying), nicknamed “Thatcher” after a certain Iron Lady. Along with May Kang (May Lo Mei-Mei) and Akina Chiu (Gigi Fu Ming-Hin), the meanie girls resolve to cause chaos for geeky new teacher Sam Hong (Raymond Wong), but reckon without his awesome supernatural powers.

And how exactly does a gawky, bespectacled girls’ school teacher come to have supernatural powers? Because Sam Hong is the reincarnation of Scholar Pik, ghostly hero of the first Happy Ghost (1984). Following that unexpectedly huge hit, star and co-writer Raymond Wong and writer-director Clifton Ko set out to give audiences more of the same. Though this sequel proved as popular at the box office, viewed in retrospect it remains the weakest of the Happy Ghost series. It’s a sappy high school comedy lacking the lively wit and zany weirdness that distinguish other entries. There is a faint attempt to satirise the Hong Kong education system as the Headmistress (Chan Man-Na) likens the school to a supermarket with all the students their customers, while a subplot sees beloved food stall owner Uncle Tang (Tang Kei-Chan) sacked so the school can increase profits with an on-site fast food joint run by triads! For the most part however, Happy Ghost II suffers from a shapeless plot, a hero who is less interesting this time around, and a lack of sympathetic supporting characters.

Having said that, the Meanies do learn the error of their ways, grow to respect Mr. Hong and end up helping him woo Miss Lo (Jeanne Kanai), a schoolteacher at a rival boys’ school on whom our hapless hero has a hopeless crush. It is the least they can do, given they earlier tricked him into delivering a note inviting her to an orgy. One notable thing about the Happy Ghost series was it launched a number of fresh-faced Hong Kong starlets onto successful careers. Despite sporting an unflatteringly butch haircut, Fennie Yuen Kit-Ying makes an impression as the meanest of the Meanies. She went on to star in such major films Swordsman II: Invincible Asia (1990) and Bullet in the Head (1990) and remained a fixture of the Happy Ghost series along with co-stars May Lo Mei-Mei and Charine Chan Ka-Ling, albeit as far more appealing schoolgirl characters than those essayed here. May Lo Mei-Mei later married superstar Jackie Cheung while Charine Chan Ka-Ling became a producer.

Just like the first film, the sequel includes some school sports’ day humour, this time centred around the swimming pool. Once again, Sam uses his cel animated superpowers to help his girls win the day, in a clear violation of sports day rules. Perhaps in a bid to avoid setting a bad example to kids, the girls triumph without magical intervention in the volleyball finale. Later the plot takes an unexpected and frankly nonsensical turn after a bump on the head somehow splits Raymond Wong into both past and present incarnations of the same character. Sam briefly loses his powers, happy to be normal until things go awry.

There are a handful of mildly amusing gags and the special effects prove top-notch as usual. Also engaging is a Sixties Beach Party style musical number performed by Charine Chan Ka-Ling with jokey interludes sung by veteran character actor Tang Kei-Chan, plus a disco dance-off wherein Cherie helps Sam trounce his rival (Melvin Wong) for Miss Lo’s hand. Copying a trend started by Jackie Chan, outtakes play over the end credits, but don’t expect any stunts gone awry in this mild-mannered romp.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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