Rated 8 out of 10
Costume action fantasy
2012, colour, 3-D, 2.35:1, 130 mins
Directed by Wuershan (烏爾善)
By Derek Elley
Sun, 17 June 2012
* Slick fantasy vehicle for three Mainland stars is in a different league to the 2008 film… *
…Though the Chinese title bills it as a sequel to Painted Skin 畫皮 (2008), there’s little in common with the lively but hopelessly confused earlier movie…Entirely funded this time round by Mainland companies, it brings back actress ZHOU Xun 周迅 as the female fox demon who feeds off men’s hearts but constructs an otherwise unlinked story set in a timeless Ancient China. Also returning are fellow Mainland stars Vicki ZHAO 趙薇 and CHEN Kun 陳坤, but in completely different roles. The result is a very entertaining, slightly over-long costume fantasy whose performances and sheer technique carry a script that often punches above its weight.
Whereas the rather old-fashioned Painted Skin, a Hong Kong-China-Singapore co-production, never knew exactly what it was, and even tried to shoehorn action star Donnie YEN 甄子丹 into the mix, Resurrection knows exactly what it is. With a hefty RMB150 million (US$23.5 million) budget, excellent and smoothly integrated visual effects by Mainland and South Korean companies, and handsome production values, this is a prestige China production to the hilt — and in a 3-D version as well. At the directing reins is Inner Mongolian-born Wuershan 烏爾善, hot from The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman 刀見笑 (2010); and getting equal (if not bigger) display on the posters is Huayi Brothers’ in-house star producer CHEN Kuo-fu 陳國富 (The Message 風聲 (2009)), a Taiwan-born critic-turned-director.
The script by Ran Jia’nan (冉甲男) and RAN Ping 冉平 has no connection with the famous Qing dynasty short story by PU Songling 蒲松龄 that spawned Painted Skin. Instead, it takes its underlying theme — that beauty is only skin deep — and constructs an elaborate tale in which a seductive fox demon offers to switch her looks with a scarred princess so the latter can test the love of a general who was once her bodyguard. It’s a complex, multi-layered screenplay that mixes myth and witchcraft with eternal truths about love and attraction, as well as stirring in strong “sisterly” resonances in a story that’s female-focused throughout…
…Though the film still has flashes of the earthiness that director Wuershan brought to Butcher, Resurrection is a much slicker, more highly varnished production. Despite the flashy action sequences (all whip pans and slo-mo), Wuershan also knows when to go easy on the visual effects and let his actors have some space, as well as marbling in comic interludes…to ease the burden on the serious stuff. If the central theme of true love vs. physical attraction is often overwhelmed by too much plot and detail, the movie is still engrossing when it works and much more emotionally engaging than other blockbusters of its ilk.
Excerpted by Zuo Shou
Full article link: http://www.filmbiz.asia/reviews/painted-skin-the-resurrection