HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Storm Boy
Storm Boy
Frozen II
White Sheik, The
Whalebone Box, The
Hunt, The
Invisible Man, The
Honey Boy
System Crasher
Judy & Punch
Bacurau
Battling Butler
Vivarium
Seven Chances
Dogs Don't Wear Pants
Navigator, The
Knives Out
Hit!
Charlie's Angels
Passport to Shame
Le Mans '66
Keep Fit
Doctor Sleep
Friend or Foe
Brass Target
Mine and the Minotaur, The
Sky Pirates
Syncopation
Sea Children, The
Ghost of a Chance, A
Go Kart Go
Great Buster, The
Seventy Deadly Pills
Wings of Mystery
Treasure at the Mill
VFW
Crime Wave
Terminator: Dark Fate
Slithis
Antonio Gaudi
   
 
Newest Articles
It's! Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 3 on Blu-ray
Put the Boot In: Villain on Blu-ray
The Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 2: Vic Pratt Interview
All the Lonely People: Sunday Bloody Sunday on Blu-ray
Desperate Characters: Beat the Devil on Blu-ray
Chansons d'Amour: Alfie Darling on Blu-ray
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
   
 
  Bride with White Hair, The Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
Year: 1993
Director: Ronny Yu
Stars: Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia, Leslie Cheung, Francis Ng, Elaine Lui, Nam Kit Ying, Cheng King-Kei, Eddy Ko, Law Lok Lam, Pao Fong, Wong Gwan Hong, Hoh Choi Chow, Chang Kin Ming
Genre: Horror, Martial Arts, Romance, Historical, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: In the waning days of China’s Ming dynasty, the Emperor lies gravely ill and sends his emissaries in search of a magical, life-giving flower that blooms once every twenty years. They find it atop a snowy mountain peak, guarded by legendary swordsman Cho Yi-hang (Leslie Cheung) who spurns their request and slaughters them all in burst of balletic swordplay.

“Who ranks higher than his majesty?” asks one dying official.
“A woman in my eyes”, replies Yi-hang and resumes his solitary vigil.

Thus begins one of the last great masterpieces of the Hong Kong New Wave, starring the biggest star Chinese cinema ever had: the unforgettable Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia. Seriously, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan don’t enjoy half the adulation this child star-turned screen goddess gets from Chinese film fans. Riding high off her comeback role in Swordsman II: Invincible Asia (1992), Lin Ching-Hsia essays yet another iconic anti-heroine.

Lush, phantasmagorical colours evoke the fanciful world of wu xia, the Chinese swordplay novels where heroes can fly and wield magical powers. Yi-hang is just such a hero, swift of sword and sharp of wit since his childhood days training with Wu Tang Clan master Tzu Yang (Pao Fong). The cocky boy sets out to rescue a stolen goat from the haunted forest, but finds his life in peril from a pursuing pack of hungry wolves. Whereupon a beautiful, mysterious wild girl pacifies her brother wolves with her mystical flute-playing, saving Yi-hang’s life and capturing his heart.

Years later, a dashing Yi-hang heroically defends the downtrodden and poor. Although heir apparent to the Eight Clans of Chung Yuan, his heart grows weary of the martial life. Ambitious kung fu scholar Pai Yun (Law Lok Lam) believes the clans should break with tradition and appoint a new leader, his daughter Ho Lu Hua (Nam Kit Ying), whose amorous advances to her childhood friend Yi-Hang are politely declined. His heart still belongs to the wolf girl, now grown into a nameless supernatural sword maiden (Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia), invincible in kung fu, able to fly like a bird and rip bodies apart with a crack of her whip.

She returns to his life and he christens her Lien Ni-Chang. They rekindle their romance amidst an icy, crystalline pool while the world burns with war between Ming, Han and Ching tribes. But Ni-Chang is the prized warrior-concubine of the evil Mo Cult, led by Chi Wu-Shuang, a hideous back-to-back Siamese twin whose female half (Elaine Lui) taunts her brother (Francis Ng) for lusting after the wolf girl. Ni-Chang offers her body and endures horrific abuse to win her freedom, but lying in wait is a cycle of lies, hatred and mistrust that spurs her vengeful, monstrous transformation into the Bride with White Hair.

Essential viewing for Hong Kong film fanatics, this sweeping costume epic reworks “Romance of the White Haired Maiden”, a wu xia classic written by the prolific Liang Yusheng (who passed away on January 22nd 2009). The novel had been adapted previously as the cult favourite, if not especially coherent, Wolf Devil Woman (1982), but while its sprawling story has been condensed here, The Bride with White Hair is arguably even more ambitious.

Set against the backdrop of genuine historical events, director Ronny Yu mixes the philosophical fantasy and satirical aspects of wu xia with the doom-laden romance and pictorial extravagance of early Japanese horror, such as Kwaidan (1964) or The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959). Above all else it is a tragic romance, drawing explicitly - as Yu claims - upon Romeo and Juliet - and a meditation on a theme important to the HK New Wave: the courage and resilience of women. The foreign trained Yu actually kicked off the New Wave era with Jumping Ash (1976). Though he made horror movies like The Tenant (1982) and The Trail (1983) (one of the first “hopping vampire” movies), Yu had never tackled a period wu xia fantasy before and was reluctant to do so until persuaded by his wife. It was she who recognised its potential and inspired the re-centring of the story around Lien Ni-Chang, the wronged woman reborn as a vengeful otherworldly entity.

An important theme here is the difference between the righteous and self-righteous. Master Tzu Yang prattles endlessly about the righteousness of the Chung Yuan clans amidst a world rife with moral corruption, yet he does almost nothing to protect the persecuted peasantry. Ho Lu Hua is supposedly a gifted leader, held back by her gender, but callously murders the farmer to whom Yi-Hang gave her jade pendant. By contrast Ni-Chang, even though she serves an evil cult, fights bandits, saves peasants and delivers babies. Even Yi-Hang falls short, betraying his love on a moment’s doubt.

We’re left with a sense that this world order is set to be swept away, not just by the Bride’s supernatural fury but with the rise of Ching General Wu San Kuei (Eddy Ko), whom Yi-Hang met as a child. “Fear not the criticism of others, so long as you are at peace with yourself”, says General Kuei. “What kind of a life is it if you look to others for approval?” Little wonder many wu xia novels were banned in Mainland China for their satirical attacks on rigid, inflexible ideologies.

This was a troubled production, with the set suffering attacks from typhoons and triads. Its HK $50 million budget went into the construction of two enormous soundstages, a spectacular fairyland designed by Eddy Ma and bathed in amber, orange and dreamy blue hues by genius cinematographer Peter Pau, who would win an Oscar for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). To add further prestige, Yu recruited Japanese costume designer Emi Wada, celebrated for her work with Akira Kurosawa on Ran (1985). Wada’s beautiful costumes are yet another layer of splendour, yet it would be so wrong to dismiss the film as mere eye-candy. All these visual components combine to render gut-wrenching emotions as explosions of colour and kinetic force, a visual poem driven by rage, despair and heartache. Alongside the astonishing action choreography and Yu’s use of the frame-jumping “Step-Mark” process to give things a jittery, surreal quality, Lin Ching-Hsia and her incredibly expressive eyes become a kind of living special effect.

Co-writer/editor David Wu directed the more conventional sequel, The Bride with White Hair 2 (1994) and later reworked several of its themes into his Christmas TV movie, The Snow Queen (2002) starring Bridget Fonda.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3701 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Ronny Yu  (1950 - )

Hong Kong-born director of action and fantasy. Began directing in the early 80s, and made films such as the historical actioner Postman Strikes Back (with Chow Yun-Fat), Chase Ghost Seven Powers and the heroic bloodshed flick China White. The two Bride with White Hair films – both released in 1993 – were hugely popular fantasy adventures, which helped Yu secure his first American film, the kids film Warriors of Virtue. Yu then helmed Bride of Chucky, the fourth and best Child's Play movie, the Brit action film The 51st State and the horror face-off Freddy Vs Jason. He later returned to Asia to helm the likes of Saving General Yang.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: