Monday, September 29, 2008

Painted Skin - The Review

Painted Skin is the first movie containing supernatural elements that were approved by the China Board of Censorship for production.

That is the reason I went to watch the movie.


The poster of the Painted Skin (Sorry, a bit blur.... best I can get...)


This movie is adapted from famous chinese classic "Liao Zai" (聊斋)It is a story about a fox vixen spirit who had to consume human heart in order to maintain her human shape amongst human. And this fox vixen in this movie is brillianty, and innocently played by Zhou Xun. The story opens with the army leaded by Jeneral Wang (Chen Kun) unknowingly saved Xiao Wei ( the fox vixen in human form) from bandits. Xiao Wei settled down in Jeneral Wang's house with his wife, Pei Rong. (played by Zhao Wei, more famously known by her role as Huan Zhu Ge Ge in My Dear Princess, almost ten years ago. Amazingly, she can actually stop shrieking and jumping around like a 3 year old kid in this movie) At first, Pei Rong welcomed her as a sister but later suspected that she was a vixen spirit because murders where victims' hearts were taken started when she arrived. When Pang Yong (Donnie Yen) showed up drunken at the Wang's doorstep, Pei Ring was more than happy to enlist her former lover's help to catch this vixen. Of course, there was this amateur demon catcher, Xia Bing (Betty Sun) doing her job.

For me, the plot was simple. Guy meet girl, girl fall in love, wife get jealous, wife ask for help of former lover, guy get jealous, etc etc. SPOILER AHEAD: In the end everybody dies and the lover of the former lover ask for girl's help, girl revived everyone with magic, girl kill herself, the end...
But what attracted me to the movie wasn't Zhou Xun' teary eyed, innocent- looking girl, or Chen Kun's near to wood-like acting skills, but the grand scale of the set!! Ok, part of the attraction was Donnie Yen. Actually, I was quiet amazed he took the courage to take on this role. He was like the funny man in the show, cracking jokes here and there, very different from his usual role as the kung fu grandmaster... But the too well choreographed fighting scenes were a bit of a spoil. Everyone look like they suddenly grow wires from their back and started flying around.


In this movie, Donnie Yen is the comical relief that enlighten the mood of an otherwise, a bit boring movie


And that poor demon catcher... I wonder if she ever need blood diffusion because she was practically spilling her magical blood on weapons in the grand finale!! I secretly wonder, if she was in a huge battle, she might die not of demon attacks but blood loss...

Anyway, the movie's custome is also an eye candy. At least the people wear believable clothes and have believable hair, unlike some certain big budget blockbuster where the emporer wear an armor so heavy he can't walk or the emperess had a bird nest growing on top of her head. However, I was amazed that with this much hint of nudity in the movie, our very responsible board of censorship did not rate this movie a 18-SX!! But they did cut off a few essential scenes where audiences were rob of the opportunity to juxtaposition the seductive vixen and the obedient wife.


The obedient wife, Pei Rong (top, Zhao Wei) and the seductress, Xiao Wei (bottom, Zhou Xun)


I know I'm being a bit of a sadist here, but I thought it would be a nicer movie, if everyone die in the end, and the fox vixen walk away with a very very evil laugh, with that ugly looking iguana spirit by her side.


Who is scarier? The fox vixen slowly and calmly removing her human "hide" or the wife who was poisoned into a white creature?

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