The key to the enjoyment of this movie, because it is nearly 100 years old, is to be able to enter into the story. One must understand that the way people behaved and, more importantly, thought was very different from today. The cliché of the past being a different country exists for a reason.
You'll enjoy this far more if you're familiar with Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, if you're ready to accept people bursting into song at the slightest provocation, and aren't bothered overmuch by sets that are pretty obviously sets. Still, I think with an open mind, you too can gasp with laughter at this movie.
I wrote a bit about this a couple years ago when I was suggesting movies that might have escaped notice. While I refer you to that post now, I'll add that you would have a tough time going wrong with just about any Marx Bros. film, though you can certainly see a drop in quality starting in the 40s.
Miguel is cursed for stealing from the dead on their holiday. The curse transports Miguel into the land of the dead. He works out quickly that though he is trapped, his return is simple enough, obtain the blessing of his dead relatives to counteract the curse. There is, however, a catch: his relatives can make their blessing conditional.
Here Hou has made a film emulating and paying homage to the great Ozu for the centenary of Ozu's birth. It succeeds (mostly) because Hou doesn't attempt a remake or to imitate Ozu too slavishly. There is a conscious and obvious connection in the subject matter and the cinematic style, but it is clearly a modern film by a different man. It is, in the best sense, how M. Night Shyamalan reminds one of Hitchcock. You see the influence and feel the respect for the master, but the disciple knows he must also be his own man.
Though it's not an upbeat, feel-good film, it's one worth your time. Instead of a Hollywood ending we get a Shakespearean-style tragedy with an Eastern twist. For anyone willing to pay attention, there are deep truths here about the flaws and failings that are common to humanity regardless of from where one hails.
The creators have, in the 20+ years since the only season, so far refused to make any further episodes or material beyond the end of the main story. (Of the live-action Netflix remake, let us not even speak.) This film then, is not a sequel or even a prequel, but a tale set during the main run of the show as a kind of extended episode inserted probably in the latter half of the timeline of the television run. The movie does feel something like an extended episode of the show, but I would say that's a compliment to the show rather than a criticism of the movie.
Luke's code is simple, he refuses to bend the knee to any man for any reason. Luke doesn't want to rule, he wants not to be ruled; he is unruly.
This is, according a range of folks who are in a position to make an informed judgement, the greatest movie ever made. I'm not sure that's my opinion, but it's a very good movie in a lot of ways. It's a great movie to be sure. And while it's not my pick for greatest ever, I'd probably go so far as to agree that it's the greatest popular film ever made.
Someone comes along and makes a perfectly acceptable movie. Let's say it's called, oh, I don't know... John Matrix. It's probably even a good movie. It has a decent plot, competent directing, a few stars giving a good performance, and it manages a good box office. Yay! It's a hit.