Johnnie To to Produce, Direct Ghost Blows Out the Light

I’m always interested in anything Johnnie To puts his hands on, and the upcoming “Ghost Blows Out the Light” (yes, very awkward title, this one) strikes my fancy, especially when Kaiju Shakedown calls it, “a LORD OF THE RINGS-sized franchise from Meridian Pictures”. Based on an online novel that has since been printed in paper form, the movie has apparently been massively popular in its native China, and the plan now is to spin it off into a trilogy, hence the LOTR comparison. The news is that Johnnie To will produce the trilogy, and “choose” to direct one of the installments. According to To, that will depend on the scripts, which have yet to be finished.

More about “Ghost Blows Out the Light” (or “Candle in the Tomb”) from Wikipedia:

Ghost Blows Out the Light, also referred to as Candle in the Tomb, is a fantasy novel written by Zhang Muye about two grave robbers seeking hidden treasure, and first published online in March 2006. It quickly became the bestselling online novel in China, and was published in print form in October the same year, going on to sell over 500,000 copies.

The title is derived from an old Chinese saying, credited by the author to genuine grave robbers: “A human lights the candle and the ghosts blow it out.” According to Muye, grave robbers would place a candle in the south-east corner of a tomb after entering, in an attempt to make contact with the dead. If the candle was extinguished it was a sign that the spirits within opposed the intrusion, and the robbers would be obliged to depart, leaving everything intact and undisturbed.

The novel is set in the 1980s and follows Hu Bayi, a former soldier, and his partner as they raid tombs in search of valuables. The two team up with an American archaeologist after they fall victim to a curse, and to release themselves from it they must seek clues found among ancient mythical sites in China and Tibet.

And look at this, Wikipedia even does movie news, now!

In July 2007, it was reported that Hollywood film studio New Line Cinema was planning a movie adaptation of the novel, with one of the two lead actors mooted to be Qian Zhijun, the teenager whose face was behind the Xiao Pang internet phenomenon. Other roles would be played by established Hong Kong movie stars.

Actually, after hearing the idea behind the movie, I’m thinking more “The Mummy” comparisons than LOTR…

But anyways, I don’t think those poor grave robbers need to worry. If I’ve learned anything from all my years of watching Hong Kong ghost movies, it’s that Chinese ghosts are more funny than they are scary.