Wednesday, 31 December 2014

DAM Toys GK006 - Gangsters Kingdom : Diamond 3.

Revenge is a dish that tastes better cold.
- Mexican Proverb.

A (mis) interpretation:

Chapter 4: The Butcher's Knives.

Juárez Fuentes was the head of the Cártel de Juárez, a powerful Mexican drug cartel which controlled a large percentage of cocaine trafficking from Mexico into US. The cartel was notorious for its brutality and method of execution against its rivals and enemies. Juárez, whose nickname is El Machete, was a former military personnel whom rose to power within the cartel after the death of his mentor, Anesto Acosta and through the support of drug interdiction officer, General Pablo Gutiérrez. He was sent to prison after his right hand man, Raphael Hernández, infamously known as El Perro Rabioso, whom also led the cartel's enforcer unit, La Línea, betrayed him. Juárez used his money to bribe officers, judiciaries and politicians which allowed him to stay in prison for eighteen months instead of life without parole. When he was released, Juárez found out that The Mad Dog had usurped his position and seized control of the cartel. In addition The Mad Dog consolidated his power and formed an alliance amongst major drug cartel rivals in the country as well as establishing an insulated protection through corrupted officers and politicians. Juárez's loyal followers and members had  all been brutally purged from the organisation. Learning of  Juárez's released, The Mad Dog immediately ordered his men and associates to finish off the ex-leader of the cartel. Juárez's wife and children were killed. This triggered a furious retaliatory act of vengeance by Juárez against The Mad Dog and those responsible. Leaving a trail of dead bodies, he finally confronted The Mad Dog and his closest aides during a high level meeting. Juárez eliminated all the bodyguards and associates. He disembowelled The Mad Dog and hung him by his own intestines. The assassination and massacre triggered a massive manhunt for Juárez by both the authorities and various drug cartel members. When running out of option, Juárez succeed in smuggling himself out of Mexico through the tunnels and into US. For years he hid himself and his identity from others, working odd jobs around US to survive. With the cartels still putting out a huge bounty on Juárez, he finally approached the Diamonds Family for opportunity to work for them as well as seeking protection. The head of the family, Diamond K, whom had an intuitive eye for talent as well as recognising Juárez from the old times, welcomed him into the organisation. He nevertheless assigning him only the rank of 3 of Diamonds. Diamond K also used his powerful influence and connections to absolve vendetta between Juárez and the Mexican cartels. As years passed, Juárez slowly lost whatever respect he used to have, even within the Diamonds Family. That is, until the arrival of 2 of Diamonds, Alger. The former associate of the Spades Family immediately recognised the talent of Juárez. Diamond 2 earned Juárez's absolute obedience, loyalty and respect after challenging him to a duel and contest of martial skills of which Diamond 2 defeated El Machete. More importantly, Alger admired and respected Juárez's extraordinary abilities and skills in using all forms of throwing and cutting knives as well as his cunningness and burning ambition to return back to Mexico to regain his position as a leader and ultimately, the respect he used to have. Eventually, Juárez would become Diamond 2's right hand man and instrumental in part of Alger's grand scheme to destroy the Spades Family and usurpation of the Diamonds Family organisation.
Spades 4 staggered up, coughing out blood, as his broken ribs moved on their own from the kick delivered by Alger. Spades 3 pulled out the dagger embedded on his hand as both of them confronted Diamond 2, the traitor of the Spades Family. Spades 3 hurled his tomahawk using his good hand with all his might at Alger, but was met with a machete. In a blurry movement, Spades 3's stomach was slashed open, followed by stabbings on his shoulders, wrists and kidneys, incapacitating him instantaneously. As Spade 3 collapsed on the floor dying, Spade 4 tried to pick up his AK47 but was stabbed by a flying blade. Using his left hand, he aimed his M1911 semi-automatic pistol and pulled the trigger at Alger and the moving shadow. The loud bursts of the .45 echoed through the corridor but did not hit anyone. A glint of sharp metal flew into Spade 4's chest, followed by several quick deep slashes across his body, spilling bloods all over. As consciousness about to leave Spade 4, he heard them talking. 'Whose hand shall we send over to the Spades?' asked Juárez. 'Whoever's with the tattoo that you fancied El Machete,' replied Alger mercilessly and coldly. The death of Spade 3 and 4 served as the catharsis which triggered the long and bloody war between two of the strongest crime families in the Gangster Kingdom.  
Dam Toys scored another hit with this one in my personal opinion. Based on the one and only Danny Trejo's cult character, Machete from the movie of the same name (2010), its sequel, Machete Kills (2013) and which a similar but different character first appeared in Desperado (1995), all directed by Robert Rodriguez, with "stylised" version of his head sculpt, rooted hair instead of sculpted one (and has that sweaty, oily feel to it with loads of hair products applied to it I reckon), this is the second antagonist to be featured in their by now wildly successful Gangsters Kingdom series (check out their earlier figures and exclusive ones on eBay. The prices remind me of ThreeA's early days figure. It will detonate my wallet). The figure comes with tonnes of knives - small throwing blades, curved and straight bowie knives and curiously, two straight large ones, perhaps as a nod to the film version of which the figure is inspired from. Sturdy and no concerns at all, except to nit pick, the difficulty to stand properly due to the cowboy boots, I have no major complain. Perhaps following the trend started by ThreeA, there is a randomly inserted, limited exclusive version. The difference is blood splattered face and the scorpion and snake tattoos engravings in gold on the curved machetes. There are fifty two cards in a deck i.e. French deck, so there could be fifty two characters. But I may be skipping Spade 5 and probably Spade 6, the debut of a female character in the lineup due to what I deemed as too militaristic and too outlandish costume respectively. I prefer them characters in normal setup and gears, like real-life gangsters I guess. The set comes with a comic book, of which artwork are both reminiscence of Mike Mignola and Frank Miller's Sin City high contrast black and white setting.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

ThreeA - Parade: Hellpop Duo Garland + Faust + Oliver Applehair.

Let's have a black celebration
Black celebration
To celebrate the fact
That we've seen the back
Of another black day
I look to you
How you carry on
When all hope is gone
Can't you see
Your optimistic eyes
Seem like paradise
To someone like
- Depeche Mode, Black Celebration.

Does it still shine gold in the dark?
- promo write up.

An opera of dust and a question that should have been asked.
- promo write up.

The last mistake you ever make,
- Faust.

is thinking that she loved you.
- Garland.

Without you there is no tomorrow.
- Oliver Applehair.

A (mis) interpretation:

Band name: The Hellpop Duo.
Band members: Alexei "Faust" Gunderson - producer, keyboard, guitar, bass, bagpipe, didgeridoo; Scarlet "Garland" Gunderson - songwriter, vocals, ukulele, violin.
Genre: Necro Folk; Proto Gothika.
Years active: 1995 to present.
Management: Applehair Management - Olivia Ross.
Associated acts: The Conqueror Worm; The Hell Toys; Talking Skulls; Purgatory; Coffin Nails; The Headless Horsemen; The Crossroads; Icky Wormwood.
Labels: Sub-Par Records (1995 to 1996); Etteilla Records (1997 to present).

A) They Promised The Devil (1995).
Track listing:
1) The Pact With The Devil (2:33)
2) Broken Promises (6:18)
3) Lord Of The Flies And Lies (5:40)
4) Our Parents Are In Hell (14:55)
5) Devices Of Torture (2:19)
6) Mental (Why?) (4:54)
7) The Choice Is Yours (2:45)
8) No One Is Listening (hidden track) (20:12)

B) Hell No (1996).
Track listing:
1) Intro (0:04)
2) Psychedelic Tarot Cards Blues (3:58)
3) The Ouija Thong (14:34)
4) Elektronomicon (25:30)
5) The Raving Baskervilles (13:44)
6) A Go-Go In Hell (4:67)
7) The Queen Of Crossroads (12:11)
8) Dante's Journey (35:60)
9) Outro (0.15)

C) Crowley's Bad Day (1997).
Track listing:
1) Going for Bolingbroke (3:23)
2) Miss Fortune Teller (1:44)
3) Rudolf Steiner Over For Dinner (23:27)
4) I'm Your Witch-hunt (2:55)
5) Sexual Hauntings of Mrs Growper (11:36)
6) Count of St. German Broken Botox (2:03)
7) My Life As A Ghost Story (18:53)
8) Blavatsky Pie (3:35)

'How are they doing Bill?' asks Lu, as the Rolling Bones "Empathy for the Devil" is playing on the background. 'Right on track. To Dis,' replies Bill. 'Good. Good. And their parents?' asks Lu. 'Medium rare, just as my Lord likes it,' replies Bill. 'Good. Good,' Lu says with satisfaction. 'F***kin' specks of dust. They think they could outsmart moi? Not so, not so,' Lu laughs. 'Raise the stake Bill. Time for show hand,' orders Lu. 'And Bill?' says Lu. 'Yes, me Lordy?' replies Bill. 'Loose those f***in' horns will ya? Its the 20th century up there dammit. When I ordered youse guys to look sharp, I don't mean the horns. Horns are so yesterday,' says Lu. 'Ok...and the old fart did damn us,' replies Bill. Lu glares at him and smiles. 'And don't forget that imp too. Stole my Giant Mongolian Shoe. Its a high heel, limited edition, so I want it back. Its a gift from Lily after all,' orders Lu. 'You got it, Boss,' says Bill. 'Oh, makes sure that interfering son of that bitch Gabby ain't lookin' aight? I ain't want Mikey to go ape-shite on us,' warns Lu. 'Of course Boss. Whatever you say Boss,' replies Bill.
Garland and Faust are Hellpop Duo, a Necro Folk genre electronica infused folk band whose parents are the famous Spanish Cemetery, a band popular enough in the late 70s that they yield several hit singles. They disappeared one night after the concert at Woodstock, giving rise to various myths and legends surrounding the circumstances of their disappearance. According to famous occult investigator, Bleak Mission whom himself would go on to form the Black Rainbow proto-punk band, the Spanish Cemetery made a pact with the Devil and reneged on the deal, resulting in their souls being dragged to Hell. Their children grows up and follow their parents music career. The Devil appears one night to them with a deal - release a hit single and a hit album which would achieve multi-platinum within six hundred and sixty six days and their parents would be released back to the world. Failure would result in them joining their folks in an eternity of hellish red delight. Lu also personally warns them not to engage a third party help and more importantly, don't ever try to rig the result.
This presents a dilemma. The Hellpop Duo caters mostly to the indie scene. Their last two albums hardly shift two thousand copies. They are also on the brink of financially broke, as the record company which signed them, Sub-Par Records couldn't recoup the costs of producing their albums. Garland and Faust are undoubtedly talented but the primary concern is perhaps due to their artistic inclinations and anti-fame, anti-commercialism stance. They don't give a damn whether their albums sell. It is up to the listeners to understand and appreciate their works of art. Music journalist and critic Amanda "Peppermint" Grove is a fan of theirs, without doubt and staunchly loyal to their brand of music which she calls Necro Folk. Occasionally their "a f*** you to the world" attitude would alienate even their early fans, as their ideas constantly shifts and changes continuously. The Hellpop Duo is fiercely proud of their independence and freedom but at the price of being directionless and lack of plan. But they respect producers whom share their vision, such as Stiff Albino. Famed producer DJ Phat Harry Beard once offer to produce their album under his label, Deaf Toe Jam Record but Garland and Faust refused. So they ended up writing, producing their own albums with total freedom from Sub-Par Records. Until the song "A Go-Go In Hell" from their second album is featured in an indie short film, "2+2 = 4 OK?" in an out of competition category at Sundance. It catches the attention of Etteilla Records talent agent and promptly sign them up. It turns out it is all a ruse by Lu to set them up in order to take them down under to join their parents. So they have six hundred and sixty six days to come up with a hit single and album.
Eventually it is up to Olivia Ross aka Applehair, as their manager, to ensure the administrative aspect of the duo musical career is taken care of. She is sometimes refer to as the "third member" of the Hellpop Duo. Olivia ensures publicity is generated through proper channels at the right target audience. She is sometimes exasperated at the siblings attitude although with good intention. Olivia leads a double life as one of the world's greatest art thieves along with her sister, Debbie. She is so good at it that she got bored and enters Dis with the help from Tommy "King Emo" Mission to steal the Giant Mongolian Shoe from right under the nose of Little Horn. Olivia just loves a nice pair of shoes.
All three currently face the dilemma posed by Lu. As their third album debuts at Top 200 at number 198 spot, and within a month steadily climbs up to, breaking into Top 100, the trio must come up with a plan to get themselves out of the situation or face an eternity of sufferance in Dis.
The Parade line is ThreeA's foray into uh, fashion "dolls", I think, first debut for Swank, a clothing brand based in Atlanta if I am not wrong, in limited quantities which comes with apples with a Square face ala beady eyes, toothy front teeth. This is the Bambaland version. It is a curious line, with quite a straightforward background story, but the names. Why male names? Faust, Garland, Oliver. Except for the surprise, random drop of the day, Debbie Applehair that is. Now I got the three pack set. There is a wallet crunching limited edition Oliver which comes with a 1:1 scale high heels. Nothing much to elaborate about the figures, typical ThreeA design, you know, Tin Tin syled face etc. Oliver Applehair comes with a 10 inch new body, which I think were last used years ago for Adventure Kartel's Lil' Shadow OG version (and which is going to be re-released using this body once more). Unfortunately, the floppy syndrome continues to plague my figures. Oliver's arms are incredibly loose at the "sleeve joint" angle, almost to the point of feeling like gonna come off. The finishing on her face is again, like Pascha and Gals, uneven. Garland (the girl)'s arm did pop off but could be attached back, fortunately. The apples are well, to me, just apples. Maybe the clear version is heavier but the ones which comes with the pack is light. But its cool. Just that hoping ThreeA would re-look into their QC before it becomes a norm.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Chloe and Dylan - At Crazy Crab Restaurant, Oasis Ara Damansara.

Since Auntie Lily is going back to Sydney, Esther decides to bring us out last Sunday for a nice dinner at Crazy Crab restaurant, located at the nice Oasis Square, Ara Damansara. Dylan of course is mesmerised by the fountains there.

Friday, 19 December 2014

ThreeA - Popbot: Tomorrow King Underverse Dark Ninja TK.

Blade swing with the force of a cyclone
Cut crystal and bone, pistol and chrome
Stand in my path, you're a dead man

- RZA, Afro Samurai Theme.

A (mis) interpretation:

Category: Mass production replicants.
Model type: The Tomorrow Kings - GEN 3.0
Unit type: Ninja TK.
ID: Nokizaru.
Rank: Shatei.
Manufacturer: The Luthor Bean Jr. Corporation.
Incept date: 27th July 1994.
Serial no.: TKG03MAC27071994.
Longevity: 4 years.
Function: Infiltration/espionage/assassination/close assault.
Physical level: A.
Mental level: C.
Abilities: Panzer Kunst - anti-armour martial art; ninjutsu skills; superhuman physiology.
Std. armaments: "Cameoline" shinobi shozoko - stealth uniform; monomolecular-edged nodachi x 1; krak grenade x 3.
1994. Leviathan 1, a massive interstellar space ship the size of a planetoid was originally envisioned to carry mankind to search for a new, habitable planet to live. Its construction alone nearly bankrupted the Seven Nations of Terra and is left unfinished. The grand plan is abandoned as funds are channelled into war efforts. Leviathan 1 is left perpetually dock at Site 7, L3. It becomes a haven for outlaws, mercenaries and those on the run from Terra and Mars. Its population eventually ballooned to nearly three billion, as the disenfranchised and poor migrated there. When a pleasure model gynoid called Morgan Le Fay which neural programme has been corrupted by a former Nine Sisters, Morgause, causes one of the hyper drive engines to damage, it opens up a warp rift, where real space and the otherworldly dimension known as The Immaterium become intermingle. Known as The Byssos, millions of inhabitants are slaughtered by the malicious warp entities that pour out from The Immaterium before it is sealed off. The gynoid sentiency merged with Morgause, turning into a nightmarish incarnation of mechanical horror, calling herself Queen Mortis. She raises an army of machines, known as the Mortis Legion and built massive manufactorums and forges to produce war engines and robots the likes of the Titans, towering massive battle bots with the singular intention to wipe out humankind within the Leviathan 1 due to her intense hatred against any form of biological organism. Standing in her way is Luthor Bean Jr., whose late father is responsible for creating the pleasure provision gynoid, of which template Luthor Jr. uses to advance the technology further through biorobotic engineering. The result are replicants called the Tomorrow Kings and Tomorrow Queens. The resultant war between the machines and replicants become known as the Underverse War. The Underverse is the massive area of several levels of which the real space and Byssos, the eye of the Warp rift, lies and stretches for several thousands of miles whereby reality and warp energies intermingled.  
The Ninja TK series is a Tomorrow King model cloak in mystery. Their history and deployment are not made public nor ever explained. They are primarily deployed as saboteurs, infiltrators and carry out espionage and covert activities within The Underverse. Ninja TKs (and TQs) are neural programmed with the ancient Eastasian skills and knowledge of ninjutsu which is the martial art, strategy, and tactics of unconventional warfare and guerrilla warfare as well as the art of espionage. They are issued with light bending or absorbing material, "Cameoline", giving them invisibility to the sensors of Mortis Titans. The metal monsters in turn relies on movement of air particles to detect them. A Ninja TK is standard issued with a nodachi katana blade and krak grenades, although they do carries other forms of weaponries depending on their assignments. They are one of the most feared TKs amongst the population of Leviathan 1. Rumours of Luthor Bean Jr. accepting blood contracts from various crime families to carry out assassinations are said to have been mostly assigned to a Ninja TK and TQ.
The Ninja TK first debut and is sold exclusively at WonderFest, Japan via Goodsmile. It is called Ichihito Underverse Ninja TK and is beige / whitish in colour. For the Bambaland guys and gals, we were offered the Dark version. Well, not quite and that's my gripe with this figure. Instead of darker colourway, it turns out to be more on the green-ish tint side. The "hood" is unfortunately not colour co-ordinated with the "uniform". It is also very difficult to adjust nicely even if it is lined with wire. Otherwise, this is one of the very few figures from ThreeA which is not floppy nor having any QC concerns. The joints are truly taunt and tight and poses very easily. Since I feel something is not quite "complete" about the figure, I adds the arm protectors from DAM Toys' Gangster Kingdom Diamond 2. And that's about it. Oh wait, the head sculpt. Darn, seems like the TKs are evolving into Elves or Vulcan with those "pointy ears". I may not have noticed it on the UKTK or UKTQ earlier but it is now much more pronounced and obvious on this one.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Enterbay - A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂) : Ning Choi San (寧采臣).



人生路 美夢似路長
路裡風霜 風霜撲面乾
紅塵裡 美夢有幾多方向
人生是 美夢與熱望
夢裡依稀 依稀有淚光
何從何去 去覓我心中方向
人間路 快樂少年郎
路裡崎嶇 崎嶇不見陽光
泥塵裡 快樂有幾多方向
- 张国荣, 倩女幽魂

道可道 非常道
天道地道 人道劍道
呸呸呸呸呸 胡說八道
聖是有道 盜亦有道
食道尿道(哈!) 陰道陽道(嘿!)
我自求我道 我 自求 我道
- 黃霑, 道

留此刻的一片真 伴傾心的這份愛
而清風的溫馨 在冷雨中送熱愛
不許紅日 教人分開
悠悠良夜 不要變改
不許紅日 教人分開
悠悠良夜 不要變改
人敞開心扉 在漆黑中抱著你
- 葉蒨文,  黎明不要來
A (mis) interpretation:

Han Dynasty. Ning Choi San (寧采臣) is a twenty years old scholar from Zhejiang. He works as a tutor at a local school, teaching arts and philosophy. Ning is a person of good character, righteous, morally upright and honourable. But he is a little too honest and naïve for such tumultuous period. Ning comes from a wealthy family but has since fallen into destitution. Both his parents have since passed on. Having failed his first imperial exam, Ning is working hard to earn and save money for second attempt at the exam. Ning accepts an offer from a money lender to collect a debt when the previous debt collector died. He departs for the distant, rural town after obtaining leaves from the school.
Using a compass, Ning finds his journey difficult, his shoes worn out and torn from the distance. His food and water ration are nearly finished. A heavy downpour occurs. His oil-paper umbrella is already torn with holes from frequent usage. Luckily, Ning finds a makeshift shelter nearby. Suddenly he hears shouts from nearby. Ning witnesses an imperial officer chasing and killing several bandits. The imperial officer enters the shelter. Scares of him, Ning moves out, standing in the rain. The officer, bemuse, takes out two buns, one for himself and another he offers to Ning whom accepts since he hasn't eaten anything since morning. The rain slows to a drizzle. The officer nods at Ning and moves on. Ning quickly grabs his backpack and proceeds toward the town.
The town, Jiangzhou, is located near The Black Mountain Range. It is bustling with activities as it lies along one of the major trade routes. The Black Mountain Range is a densely stone-forested region with karst landscape and misty surrounding. Unfortunately for Ning, the debt journal is smudged from the rain water. The inn owner turns him away. Without the collection and commission for renting room overnight, Ning asks a funeral director where he could stay for free. Sarcastically, the funeral director suggests Lan Ruo temple, east of the town within the forest of The Black Mountain Range which attracts attention from passer-by. Ning thanks him and proceeds there when he comes across a painting of a beautiful woman. But he could not afford the price asks for.
At nightfall, Ning arrives at the temple. Lan Ruo temple used to be filled with priests and townspeople would frequent it for prayers. Mysteriously, one by one, the priests began to disappear while some went mad and committed suicide. People stops going there and Lan Ruo falls in state of disrepair, gaining ill-reputation with supernatural activities. Ning calls out if any one there. He hears sound of swords clashing. Two swordsmen are engaging in a duel. Ning recognises one of them, the imperial officer he encountered earlier. Another is a Taoist priest. Eavesdropping, the imperial officer is Officer Hah Hau. The Taoist priest is Yin Chik Ha (燕赤霞). Accordingly, Officer Hah has been challenging Yin for the past seven years. The duel ends when Yin delivers a slash across Officer Ha's shoulder. Officer Hah promises Yin he would be back in a year time to challenge him once more. Cautiously, Ning approaches Yin and asks for permission to stay at the temple. The Taoist priest turns down his request, stating there are leopards and tigers in the area. Ning, in desperation, politely refuses. Yin says it is Ning's choice but warns there are worse things than tigers there. Finding himself a room at upper floor of the temple, Ning lights up an oil-lamp, cleaning up the cobwebs and dusts covered place. Unfurling a straw mattress, he curiously notices a dark stain on it which looks like an old blood spot.
Officer Hah cleans and dresses his wound at a pond. He hears and sees a young beautiful woman bathing near a waterfall. Seeing Officer Hah, the woman walks toward him. Bewitch by her beauty, Officer Hah is overwhelmed by desire and force himself upon the woman, whom does not reject his advance. Subtly moves her ankle bracelet, something in the air and ground stirs. Yin Chik Ha is meditating in the temple's main hall when he senses a shadow passes by the window. Instinctively, he grabs his blessed vajra sword and a spell inscribed box fills with magic items and relics, chasing after the moving shadow. Officer Hah is engrossed in his act when something crawls up to him. Trying to grab his sword, he is too late as living roots coil and tighten around him, crushing his body and enters his throat, leeching Officer Hah's soul and physical essence, reduces him to no more than a shrivelled corpse.
Yin Chik Ha arrives, sadly mourn Officer Hah's death. He offers a prayer and burns the corpse. Yin is a former imperial court inspector from Shaanxi, well reputable for his success in bringing corrupted officials and ministers whom abuse their positions and influences to the court of law and justice. Disillusion with the trappings of worldly matters, Yin retires and after ensuring his family's welfare is taken care of, he commits himself fully to path of Taoism, leading a spiritual hermit life. He is also a master wandering swordsman, a youxia (遊俠) whose skills are well known in jianghu (江湖) the martial artists community. Yin leads his life in accordance to the spiritual practise of tao (道), to harmonise one's will with nature in order to achieve wu wei (無爲) or action without action. As such he is morally righteous and virtuous. Yin sees every action creates counter-actions as unavoidable movements within manifestations of the Tao, and proper practice variously involves accepting, conforming to, or working with these natural developments. As such he leaves the supernatural beings at The Black Mountain Range alone but the harmony is now being disrupted. Yin must seek a way to set things back to balance. Yin Chik Ha heards the mocking laughters of the damned and lost. Suddenly he remembers the young scholar and rushes off.
Ning Choi San is thinking about the situation he is in when he hears cries, laughters and conversations from outside the temple. He looks out from the window and sees no one. Then Ning hears the voice of a woman singing and guzheng playing. Cautiously, Ning goes to locate the source of the sound. He arrives at a perfumed pavilion at the edge of a lake. There Ning sees a beautiful woman playing guzheng. She seems surprise and breaks one of the strings. Ning is apologetic and explains he meant no harm. Ning excuses himself but suddenly one of planks give way and he falls into the water. Unable to swim, the woman helps him up. Ning thanks the woman who smiles seductively and nonchalantly re-attaches the string. She insists to take off his wet clothes and moves close to Ning but he rejects the idea and makes his way back to the temple. He then realises that the woman is the subject of the painting he saw earlier.
The woman is a spirit by the name of Nip Siu Sin (聶小倩). She comes from a poor family but at eighteen years of age, she is naturally beautiful and attracted the attention of a wealthy merchant whom offered a considerable sum of money to her father in return for her hands as a concubine. The merchant's third wife is jealous of Siu Sin and had her murdered by a hired mercenary. The mercenary burnt her body and placed it in an urn, buried it underneath a great camphor tree in the Black Mountain Range. Her father found her urn and had a head stone made to mark the grave. He had an artist make a painting of her and later died of grief. The camphor tree is actually the dwelling of The Old One (姥姥), a thousand years old tree demoness. The Old One enslaves Siu Sin's spirit and uses her beauty to bewitch and entrap men with desires in order for the tree demoness to kill and consume their souls. For the past one year since her demise, Siu Sin is unable to reincarnate due to her servitude to The Old One. She has since resigned to her fate.
Ning makes his way back to the temple when he realises someone is following him. Turning around, he sees Nip Siu Sin. She said it is late and afraid to go home alone. Ning agrees to accompany her. Siu Sin causes a snake to appear and pretending to be damsel in distress, hugs Ning tightly. Ning does not react but instead concentrate on kicking the snake away. Blushing, Ning excuses himself once more and see bright lights from red lanterns at a hillside. Siu Sin says that is her family mansion. Suddenly Siu Sin senses Yin Chik Ha is around. She tells Ning that a lecherous Taoist priest from Lan Ruo temple whom she rejected his advances has come to catch her. Ning says he has seen that priest and offers to protect her. Asking her to runs home to safety, Ning diverts Yin's attention. He hides amongst the bushes making sounds of animals. Siu Sin is bemused, but appreciate the young man's chivalrous act and his righteous character. She decides to let him live instead of becoming a victim of The Old One. Yin Chik Ha finally moves on. Siu Sin wishes to see Ning again and left a fragrant handkerchief with a note that they should meet again at the pavilion tomorrow night. Ning's heart flutters.
The next morning, Yin approaches Ning, asking him if he sees or hears anything extraordinary last night. Ning timidly says no. Yin's demeanour changes and fiercely warns Ning to leave by noon. Ning assertively refuses, that he would stay until he resolves his business at the town. Yin begrudgingly leaves with a captured game for meal. Ning eventually decides to rewrite the debt records from memory. Finishing at late afternoon, Ning goes to town and collects the payment from the perplexed and fearful inn owner, amaze the young scholar could survive a night at Lan Ruo temple. With the money, Ning goes to the arts seller and purchases the painting of Siu Sin. A funeral is in progress. Ning sees Siu Sin and calls out for her. Out of curiosity, the arts seller asks Ning who is calling out and he replies the subject of the painting. The arts seller laughs, saying that the woman has disappeared for a year and is believed to be dead. Ning admonishes the arts seller, saying that he shouldn't curse a person dead and leaves for Lan Ruo temple as dusk arrives. As Ning passes by a notice board, he sees a wanted criminal by the name of Lau Yat Tou, who looks uncannily like Yin Chik Ha. He concludes that the Taoist priest is a bandit in disguise and must warn Nip Siu Sin.
Ning compulsively goes to the mansion with the intention to warn Siu Sin about Yin Chik Ha. He also intends to present the painting for Siu Sin as a gift. He clumsily climbs a tree and shouts out her name. The air stirs and wind rises. Siu Sin appears at the patio, asking Ning to quiet down. The Old One is awakened by the scent of a human soul and flesh. Siu Sin quickly diverts the tree demoness attention and asks Ning Choi San to wait for her at the pavilion. Ning thought he sees something large and shadowy moves behind one of the windows. Siu Sin appears at the pavilion and seems please to see Ning again. She informs Ning that her family is very conservative and doesn't like her to be seen with strangers. Unconsciously, Nip Siu Sin has fallen in love with the young scholar. Ning shows her the painting of which Siu Sin begins to weep upon seeing the artist's signature at the bottom. Touching it Siu Sin knows the fate of her father. Ning is saddened by the situation and consoles Siu Sin. Their eyes meet. Ning's heart is beating fast, face flush. They then kiss passionately. In the distance, a thunder and lighting could be heard and seen, as if Heaven is in anger from the trespassing against natural law of order. Ning says he would leave in the morning but promises to come back and see Siu Sin. She thanks Ning for the painting but politely requests him to keep it. She hopes Ning would think of her each time he looks at the painting. Siu Sin shares that she is afraid no one would remembers her. Ning asks why she sounds like he would never sees her again, Siu Sin just smiles and bids him farewell, wishing him a safe journey home before departing home, declining Ning's request to accompany her, which confuses the young scholar further.
Siu Sin arrives at the mansion. The Old One enters and throws a handkerchief with notes to Ning at her. The tree demoness fingers manifested into a living root shaped like a whip and lashes her for keeping a human lover and hides him from it. As punishment for the betrayal, The Old One says it would betrothed her to the Black Mountain Demon Lord, an ancient demon overlord and their marriage would take place in three days. This effectively condemns Siu Sin to a fate worse than not being able to reincarnate for The Black Mountain Demon Lord has an insatiable appetite for young female spirits and would destroy their conscious selves, turning them into no more than screaming, mindless ghouls of which the great demon imprisons within its body for eternity. Siu Sin begs The Old One not to harm Ning of which the tree demoness laughs with evilness. It orders another female spirit to entrap Ning and promises Siu Sin that it would personally savours every sliver of Ning's flesh and soul that very night. Siu Sin is then locked away by The Old One.
Ning is heartbroken but decides not to give up Siu Sin. He plans to come back and asks her hands in marriage. He hears Siu Sin calling out for him. Overjoy, Ning quickly goes to the source of the voice. There, he sees not Siu Sin but a young, beautiful woman. She introduces herself as Siu Ching, a sister of Siu Sin. Ning asks where is Siu Sin's where about, Siu Ching shares that their "mother" has instructed her to personally convey the message of forbidding Ning to see Siu Sin again, for she is about to be married to a warlord of prestigious status. The young scholar refuses to believe her, and as he turns around, Siu Ching's form turns into a demonic entity, eyes bright yellow, finger nails long and sharp with protruding razor-like teeth. She is about to pounce on Ning when a shouting occurs and with a single lightning fast slash, Yin Chik Ha decapitates the female spirit. Ning turns around to see the event and runs off screaming murder. He did not see Siu Ching's form disintegrating into the air.
Sounding the drum, Ning reports to the magistrate that Lau Yat Tou, now masquerading as a Taoist priest called Yin Chik Ha, has just killed a girl. The magistrate says that the criminal Lau Yat Tou has been captured this morning and jailed while awaiting punishment. Ning insists that the criminal is still free when Yin arrives. The magistrate recognises Yin and pays his respect. He also asks an officer to bring out Lau and to Ning's surprise, he indeed looks uncannily like Yin Chik Ha except for a large scar across his face. Nevertheless, a report has been lodged against Yin, saying he has killed someone and asks Yin to explain himself. The Taoist priest admits he had killed, not a human but a malicious spirit of The Black Mountain Range. A wind suddenly blows out the lights. The magistrate face turns pale with fright, immediately closes the case and excuses himself. Ning refuses to believe Yin. The exasperated Taoist priest then brings Ning to the northern area of Lan Ruo temple as dawn breaks.
Ning sees with his own eyes the numerous worn out, moss covered head stones at the entire area. There are also human bones, skeletons and skulls of unburied ones, littering amongst the thick growth of bushes at least the height of a man. A collected pool of foul, stagnant water is nearby. Crows caw amongst the thick, morning mist. His eyes then diverted to a head stone which horrified him. It belongs to Nip Siu Sin. Yin Chik Ha explains that for ages, these area has been subjected to various acts of atrocities, murders and site of ancient battles where men had fallen and women killed. The collective negative energies here are so strong that it gives rise to numerous demonic spirits and entities. The most powerful is a tree demoness which occupies a camphor tree. Ning looks up and indeed in the middle, stands a huge tree with great roots and massive girth, its branches and foliage extends out far and wide, almost blocking out the rising sun. The voices heard at night, ghostly lights, mansions and pavilions are nothing but illusions to cloud the mind. Yin, whom does not interfere in the affairs of human and otherwise, makes an exception this time because the flow of natural order has been disrupted. In order to understand how to restore the balance, Yin does some researches from ancient scrolls at various temples and monasteries. He finds out that the tree demoness comes into sentiency one thousand years ago. Its power has grown leaps and bounds over the millennia from devouring countless human souls. It has also enslaves numerous wandering spirits and subjugate lesser demons of the forest. Yin requests Ning to helps him lure out the tree demoness and destroys it. Ning is reluctant, his thought lost in the fact that he had fallen in love with a dead person but eventually out of moral obligation, agrees.
As night falls, Yin gives Ning a relic half-vajra bell or ghanta which Yin reminds him to ring as alert to him. He also passes Ning a copy of the Suvarṇaprabhāsa Sūtra or The Golden Light Sutra for protection. Yin himself takes a hiding spot amongst the roof of the temple. Hours pass without an incident and Ning begins to feel sleepy. Suddenly there is a knock on his room door. Cautiously, Ning opens the door and screams when he sees Siu Sin. He slams it shut and is shocked to see her materialises into the room. Panic, Ning opens the sutra which causes Siu Sin to scream in pain and turns into an ethereal form. Hearing her painful scream, Ning's fear subsides and reaches out for Siu Sin. Tears welling in her eyes, Siu Sin says that she is forced by The Old One to bring Ning back to her. She further says that she has been betrothed to The Black Mountain Demon Lord and the marriage would take place in two days. Ning asks if there is any way he could help her free from the servitude to The Old One and the marriage, Siu Sin seeks Ning's help to takes her urn away from the area and reburied it in an auspicious site at her home town so that she could reincarnate. Ning agrees without hesitation.
Suddenly the winds begin to howl furiously. The room begins to shake as living roots snake through the planks and wall structures. As the roots lashes towards Ning, Siu Sin uses her supernatural ability to saves him from harm and flies out into the open courtyard. Ning begins to ring the bell frantically but Yin is nowhere to be seen. The courtyard begins to tremble. Soils and slabs of stones begin to loosen as massive roots emerges and trashes about. Siu Sin tries her best to stop the roots from reaching Ning but is overwhelmed. As Ning is coiled by one the roots, about to be crushed, a fiery fireball appears, burning away the roots and frees Ning. The fireball disappears and there stands Yin Chik Ha. He had been ambushed earlier by The Old One on the rooftop, nearly loosing his own life before escaping. As Lan Ruo temple is about to collapse, all three of them escapes into an open forest area. Reducing the temple to nothing more than rubbles of stones and wooden debris, The Old One emerges, taking the form of an elegantly dressed, aristocratic looking, old androgynous human. It speaks in sentences alternating between that of an old woman and elderly man. The Old One mocks Yin Chik Ha, saying he is a hypocrite whom had sworn an oath of non-intervention. Yin retorts that the balance has been disturbed by the tree demoness itself and thus needs to be stopped. The Old One laughs, saying that it has accumulated a thousand years worth of powers and experiences. Yin draws out the vajra, and engages The Old One in an intense meta-physical combat. Ning and Siu Sin are themselves under attack from various demons. Ning uses the Golden Light Sutra to disintegrate them. A giant centipede like demon is about to devour him when Siu Sin counters and destroys it. Yin Chik Ha is absorbed by The Old One into its body with the intention to digest him. Yin uses an array of blessed needles and causes the tree demoness to implode, slices it inside out. The Taoist priest then invokes a powerful spell, effectively nullified The Old One powers, casting it screaming in pain back to the Underworld. Yin says that though The Old One has been defeated, it would return to wreck havoc once more in one hundred years time. For now, those under its servitude are now freed.
As morning arrives, Ning and Yin go to search for Siu Sin's urn. The surrounding area seems to be teeming with life again. The camphor tree stands there still, except for a large split across its trunk. Digging up the ground, Ning and Yin sees not one urn but several. They takes them all and departs for Siu Sin's home town. Yin initially reluctant to assists Ning but agrees out of sympathy for young scholar and the female spirit. He knows that doing so, he himself may have trespasses the principle of Tao.
As the sun sets, they stops by an inn which seems devoid of customers, for rest and meal. In a room, Yin summons the spirits of the urns to reveal themselves and offering prayers, says they are now free. Ning then sees Siu Sin. They both thanks Yin, whom excuses himself to give them time for themselves. The lovers exchange conversations, their very last, and hugs each other, refusing to let each other go. They writes a poem on the painting. Ning knows this painting would be his only remembrance and memory of Siu Sin.
Yin is having a meal when he senses something stirs in the air. Invoking his all-seeing sight, Yin is horrified to see the dense negative energy all around him and enveloping the inn. He shouts for Ning and Siu Sin to leave immediately. As they reach the inn's door, something pulls Siu Sin away and disappears. Ning tries to run after her but is stopped by Yin Chik Ha. The wizened Taoist priest says there is nothing more they could do. The Old One has betrothed Siu Sin to the Black Mountain Demon Lord. The ancient demon has came to claim its bride. Ning kneels and kowtow to Yin, begging for his help once more. Yin is moved but asks Ning to accept fate. The young scholar refuses, and continues to kowtow to the priest whom pulls him up, admonishing him, saying that to save Siu Sin, they would have to enter the Infernal Regions at the risk of their very existence. Ning says he is willing to take the chances and even sacrifice himself in order for Siu Sin to reincarnate. Yin un-hesitantly takes out an ancient text which describes the method to enter the Underworld. Their souls would depart but their living physical forms would stays in the living world. Yin lights up a joss stick. He gives the innkeeper some money, engaging his help. He asks the innkeeper to ring the ghanta once the joss stick is about to burn out. If not, their souls would be trapped in the Underworld. Yin asks Ning to close his eyes. Sitting in lotus position, Yin chants spells. Their souls depart from their bodies. Yin draws out the vajra sword and slashes apart the fabric of reality, grabs Ning and enter the Realm of the Dead.
Inky darkness surrounds them, tumultuous winds carrying cries of torture and pain. Yin asks Ning to open his eyes. Before him is the infinite wall of the Wujiao mountain. Crossing the mountain, they sees an army legion of the dead. In the middle is a mountain compose of human skulls. Standing on top is the massive frame of the Black Mountain Demon Lord itself, clads in dark robes and armours. He is surrounded by his retinues. Ning sees Nip Siu Sin, being carried on a bridal sedan chair across the plains. The Black Mountain Demon Lord speaks, like bones scraping, that two intruders have entered the Gate of Hell to disrupt the wedding. The army mobilises, lead by a general riding a skeletal horse. Yin shouts to Ning to grab on the vajra sword. He then hurls Ning across and above the advancing army, by passing them. The Taoist priest smiles and takes on the demonic legion, unleashing all his might. Lightning bolts and flames shoot out from his palms. Ning lands on the ground near the skulls mountain. He sees Siu Sin in chains on the slope, crying out for Ning. The retinues move towards Ning but the vajra sword becomes alive, destroying them. The demon lord growls in anger, shaking the grounds.
Yin's powers are stretched to the limit and suffers from exhaustion. He was about to wipe out the demon legion when a galloping sound approaches. Yin turns around as a massive black axe cleaves his shoulder and he collapses. The demon general dismounts, with an axe in each hands. Yin hurls enhanced needles at it. The demon general, using spatial attacks, disappears and materialises behind Yin, swinging both axes. Yin Chik Ha barely avoids the blow and throws all his needles at the armoured demon. It disappears and re-materialises. Yin Chik Ha engages in a duel with the demon general, using meta-physical powers. The demon general prevails and delivers a vicious kick squarely onto Yin's chest. In the living world, Yin's ribs break, bleeding internally. The innkeeper turns pale as he sees the wounds appear on the Taoist priest body. In the midst of the fighting, Yin spits blood at the demon's wrathful looking face. Temporarily distracted, Yin takes the opportunity to use his good hand and leg to balance a bow, Yin draws a blessed arrow and shoots the demon at its head. Screaming, it disintegrates. Drawing out another pair of arrows, Yin aims at the Black Mountain Demon Lord and unleashes it with all his might. The demon lord effortlessly grabs the lightning fast arrows and melts it.
Ning tries to cut off the chains which binds Siu Sin. Yin destroys the remaining demon soldiers and joins Ning. He hurls the vajra sword at the Black Mountain Demon Lord. The monstrous demon lord tries to stop the sword but it proves too strong and penetrates the protective dark energy, embedding itself onto the Black Mountain Demon Lord  skull-like forehead. Growling in pain, its robes and cloaks come undone. Thousands of emaciated female spirits scream and fly out, driven insane from ages of being bind to the will of the monster. The spirits bite and cut Ning and Yin as they fly pass them, injuring them. The demon lord roars in anger. Tentacles with sharp points sprouts from within the demon lord, coiling and stabbing both Ning and Yin with intention of leeching their souls and tear them apart. Siu Sin begs the demon lord to let them go. The Black Mountain Demon Lord asks Siu Sin to vow that she shall forfeit her right to reincarnate and accompanies him for eternity. She is about to agree when Ning, knowing that the monster would not allow them to leave, stops her. He pulls off a tentacle impaling him and frees himself. Signalling Yin, the Taoist priest summons whatever strength left, grabs Ning and hurls him towards the demon lord. The monster stops Ning with its tentacles. Intending to strip the young scholar's mortal soul, it finds the copy of the Golden Light Sutra instead. Pages after pages of the sacred, blessed texts causes the demon lord to suffer unbridle pain. Ning takes the opportunity and grabs the vajra sword embedded on the monster's forehead. He then cleaves the Black Mountain Demon Lord into half. The ground shakes and cracks, venting hot debris and the skull mountain collapses. They could hear the sound of bells echoing through the realm.
All three manages to escape in time. A wounded Ning drags a severely injured Yin out and re-enter their bodies. The innkeeper looks pale with fright. Siu Sin screams as the light of dawn shines through one of the falling window panes. Ning rushes off to support the window panes. Overwhelms with emotion and sadness, with tears flowing freely, Ning asks Siu Sin to retreat into the urn. Siu Sin tearfully thanks Ning, saying that she is now indebted with gratitude to them both. She says a final farewell to Ning and asks him to live his life to the fullest. Yin breathing with labour, in rasping voice says it is okay to let go of the window panes because Siu Sin is gone. A heartbroken Ning is denied to see Siu Sin even for the last time. Perhaps fate arranges it for their own good.
After carrying out a proper burial procedure and buries the urn, Ning looks at the sky, blue and clear. He feels contented and at peace. Ning asks Yin what he is going to do. Yin Chik Ha says they both have changed something and not sure what the implications would be. Bidding Ning good tidings and luck, the priest leaves for the Wudang Mountains. It is said one hundred years later, Yin's students and their followers would return to The Black Mountain to confront and eliminate The Old One once and for all. As for Ning Choi San, he returns to his home town and would go on to become a successful imperial officer. Ning dies at the age of ninety eight, surrounds by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He would often shares the story of his adventure, Siu Sin and Yin Chik Ha with friends and relatives, listening in disbelief and brush it off as fantasy. Ning understands. Deep in his heart, whenever he is free, Ning would looks at the painting of Siu Sin longingly which he hangs on a wall of a room.

I have sworn off Enterbay due to sub-par offering in the past. The last purchase is Leon the Professional. I was surprised when this figure appears for PO. Hesitant at first, I gives in as primarily there is so few memorable Hong Kong cinema action figures out there. More importantly, due to nostalgia, this is one of the most iconic characters played by the late Leslie Cheung (張國榮). A Chinese Ghost Story (倩女幽魂) which literally means "The Ethereal Spirit of a Beauty" is a 1987 Hong Kong romantic comedy horror film which also starred Joey Wong (王祖賢), the late Wu Ma (午马) and Hong Kong TVB serial drama veteran, Lau Siu Ming (劉兆銘) in an unconventional role as Lou Lou, the tree demoness, directed by the awesome action choreographer Tony Ching Siu-tung (程小东), and produced by Tsui Hark (徐文光). I have always thought that the movie is directed by him. The movie is loosely based on a short story from Qing Dynasty writer Pu Songling's Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (聊齋誌異), under the chapter, The Magic Sword and also inspired by the 1960 Shaw Brothers Studio film The Enchanting Shadow (倩女幽魂). The film was popular in Hong Kong and several Asian countries, including South Korea and Japan when released. Most notably it boosted the stardom of Joey Wong, won Leslie Cheung popularity in Japan, and sparked a trend of folklore ghost films in the Hong Kong film industry, including two sequels, an animated film, a television series (lets not go there) and a 2011 remake (lets not go there too). One of my favourite movies, the figure does not disappoint. The quality is great, the accessories are all nicely made and done. Details are captured nicely. Enterbay is quite schizophrenic in terms of quality. When they are good, it is really nice. And this is the case of Ning Choi San. Now, the most important is of course the head sculpt of Kor Kor (哥哥), Leslie's, ahem, nickname. It is not as good as Hot Toys' Miss You Much Leslie - Passion Tour version, which I think takes the cake of Leslie's likeness, by Yulli no less, but just by a notch. That means, I looks at the figure and it is the actor, not a doppleganger (cue Hot Toys' Enter the Dragon Bruce Lee or Indiana Jones). This one is for keeps. Now, if someone would release Nip Siu Sin, Yin Chik Ha or even Lou Lou, that would be great.