Asiatic tales of the supernatural have often been more visually phantasmagorical than their Western counterparts because of this culture’s lavish history. From its etheric representations on age-old scrolls to modern comics or written fiction, like Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling, one series of fantasy novels from China has proven to be very popular, Ghost Blows Out the Light turns up the flame and may well outdo the Chinese Ghost Story trilogy from a few decades ago.
This series (Guǐ Chuī Dēng, 鬼吹灯) has spawned eight books since publication in 2006. Very rarely will I regret not knowing how to read a foreign language because I feel I’m only getting half the picture from the two movies — Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe and Mojin: The Lost Legend —made so far, which are based on this series of books. In what I could find online and understand, the films follows Hu Bayi, a retired soldier and his buddy, Wang, as they search this country for its treasures and discover its mysterious past.
Depending on the film, they have a female companion Shirley Yang, who either hinders or helps them. Sadly, with no centralized group of producers guiding the cinema versions, the narrative is all over the map. Not even the same performers play the leads. When the two films were released only months apart in 2015, one in September and the second in December, the issue is not just with the fact they do not have a measure of continuity. The second film saw limited release in North America whereas the first did not.