Zhong Kui, an aspiring scholar, traveled to the capital with his friend Du Ping to take the imperial examination, which both of them passed. Du Ping was promptly appointed to an official post, whereas Zhong Kui was disqualified by the emperor because of his less than attractive looks. In a fit of humiliation and anger, Zhong killed himself, and was buried by the grief-stricken Du Ping.
Once in the netherworld where his wild looks serves him well as an asset, Zhong Kui is appointed the Grand Marshal. Although living in relative peace and content, Zhong misses his younger sister, whom he once promised to Du in marriage. In the scene Zhong returns to the human world, escorts his sister to Du’s residence, and sees to it that the two are wed.
Zhong Kui’s Earthly Mission is unique not only for its extreme dexterity in dance movements of the characters but also for the tale it tells of tender feelings between siblings and friends across the barrier between the human world and the netherworld.