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The Film
Bride With White Hair, The

Its Origin
Hong Kong

Running Time
90 mins

Genre(s)
Fantasy
Swordplay
Wuxia

Director(s)
Ronny Yu

Stars
Leslie Cheung
Brigitte Lin

DVD Distributor
Tartan

DVD Origin
UK

Region Code
All

DVD Format
PAL

Audio Tracks
Cantonese DD2.0
English DD2.0


Subtitles
English

Screen Format
Letterboxed

Special Info
---

Film rating:
DVD Rating:

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Bride With White Hair, The


Film & DVD Review

The Film

With its rich visual textures and its fast and furious action, The Bride With White Hair is a dazzling combination of fantasy and martial arts. Armed with a deadly whip that can rip her enemies apart, the Bride is a fierce and beautiful warrior, raised by wolves and working for the cult leader Chi Wu Shuang, a malevolent siamese twin consisting of brother and sister.

When the Bride falls in love with rival leader Yi-Hang, heir to the rival Chung Yuan Clan, she attempts to leave her evil master, but he wreaks deadly revenge, throwing the love between the Bride and Yi Hang into doubt.

The Bride With White Hair is an epic fantasy- martial arts-romance film full of colour and grandeur. It stars Leslie Cheung and Brigitte Lin in what are probably my favourite roles for them both out of all the films of theirs which I have seen. This is a film which will not fail to disappoint, as it has something for everyone.

Damn...
"Damn, I'm good."

Cheung is Yi-Hang, the senior student in the Chung Yuan clan and it is primarily through this character which the film is told. Basically the entire film is a flashback, save the beginning and the end, where we are at the present point and Yi-Hang gives a voice over briefly explaining how things got to be the way they are, and what he is doing to fix it. This in itself is a brilliant technique, as the opening narration is very sparse on the details, and it kind of has that assuming prior knowledge of the events style to it, making you immediately interested. With the quick swordplay and the talk of love and the strength of those feelings, the person behind Yi-Hang's outer appearance is cleverly detailed, and also the film gives off this great sort of sense that something special is coming. I certainly thought so, and I was not disappointed.

Unlike the rest of his clan, Yi-Hang is righteous and does not want the warriors way of life, despite being the best warrior in his clan, and all the other great clans. We see flashbacks of his youth, practicing the sword, and also of the time when he first met the Wolf Girl (Brigitte Lin). In the main part of the story, however, the Wolf Girl has been taken in by an evil cult led by a siamese twin consisting of a brother and sister, Chi-Wu-Shuang. She has been taught martial arts and is their assassin.

Shy...
"Honest, I am very shy."

When Yi-Hang and the Wolf Girl meet for the first time in their adult life, there is an instant connection between them, as the Wolf Girl, while still being the evil cult's assassin, is also righteous and does not take well to injustice, as can be seen by the first scene in which we see her and her whip, and also by the birth scene. It is in that scene where the two meet. Yi-Hang pursues her, and in time ultimately saves her life. There connection strengthens and a deep love grows between the two.

From this point on, I will not give much detail about the film or plot as it truely is a spectacular film, and I do not want to ruin it for you. All that I will say, however, is "The path of true love never runs smoothly"!!

Condition...
"My hair just goes straggly cause I don't condition it. Ok?"

Being a fantasy film, with great martial arts ability comes the ability to fly. So if you are one of those people who really does not appreciate the wire-fu style fighting and swordplay, then in places this film is very likely to annoy you. I personally would much rather have a good choreographed fight scene which has zero reliance on wires over a wire-fu scene, but the unbelievable, unrealistic jumping and flying fits much more in key in this film than in any other film I have seen. The reasons for this, I think, are the whole fantasy fairytale love story, as this pounds on you the amazing, the unbelievable, the fantastic and makes you accept it as the norm, and also the stunning scenery. Now I do not mean that the scenery is greatly picturesque, as there are no roaming mountain shots or anything like that here, but the colours used in each scene basically ooze atmosphere and feeling, couple that with the spectacular cinematography and you have a perfect combination.

Snooker...
"I like a game of snooker, I do."

So how about the choreography in the fight scnes then? Well, even though there is quite a bit of flying etc. there are still planty of decent swordplay moments. Each one is great to look at, and is well performed. My favourite one, however, is at a point where Yi-Hang is somewhat depressed and drunk, and there is a battle going on around him. He simply gets up, picks up a thin, small tree branch, then calmly waltzes through all the fighting bodies, besting everyone whom he passes despite only having a stick! EVen though he is drunk, he is still able to do this, and for me this emphatically emphasises how superior Yi-Hang's sword skills are compared to everyone else.

In The Bride With White Hair, everything just seems to work. Film wise, plot wise, script wise, acting wise, action wise, I just cannot seem to fault it. The film is among my most favourite Hong Kong films ever, and is probably my favourite so far in the fantasy wuxia genre. All this from the man that directed the atrocious Bride of Chucky! Spot a theme in the film names?

Fire...
"I'm the firestarter! Twisted firestarter!"

Audio & Subtitles
Audio wise there is a choice of Cantonese (the original language) or English dubbed. Now I am a purist, and I hate dubbed films, so the english dub is not even going to get a mention; especially since I never listened to it! The Cantonese is clear sounding, but unfortunately the lip synchronisation is a little bit off, as the voice comes in a small fraction of a second after the lips start moving. It is only just noticable and if you are reading the english subtitles, then you probably won't notice it all. All the rest of the sounds are also crisp and clear, from the crackles of the burning fires to the cracks of the Wolf Girl's whip.

Hair...
"Look, my sword is even whiter than my hair!"

As far as the subtitles are concerned, gramatically and spelling wise, they are nigh on spot on. I cannot remember noticing any errors at all. While this does not mean that there are none, it does mean that if there are any, there are so few of them that they are barely noticable. A good job certainly has been done with the english. The actual subtitles are white, clear and bold, and are positioned on the film print at the bottom. Given the films aspect ratio of 2.35:1, even on a widescreen TV there are small black bars at the bottom of the screen which gave the subtitles plenty of room, so positioning them a bit lower would have been appreciated a little, but that is just a minor criticism. Top marks overall though.

Drunk...
"I really shouldn't have drunk so much last night..."

Quality
The film print quality, on the whole, is good. Individual hairs could be resolved on Leslie Cheungs head at times when he was not moving, something which I'm sure wasn't possible with the VHS copy of it which I first saw. Throughout the main part of the print it is, like the sound, fairly crisp and clear, doing the wonderful colour schemes that are used in many scenes the justice they deserve. You may have noticed that I said "the main part of the print", well how about the 'not main part of the print'? Throughout the film, or at least I think it is there throughout, at the very top and very bottom of the print (next to the black bars), there is a thin line where the colour has been deformed from what it should clearly be. It is much lighter in shade, to pretty much the same extent at the top and bottom. Why this is is beyond me. Maybe in the original film print clean up process, this was a side effect. I honestly do not know. All I do know is that it is there, it is not overly noticable unless you are looking for it. This is a minor flaw, as the lines are thin, but it is something that the film would have benefited from being without. The only other gripe would be that the film print may be a bit dark, but without another version at hand for a comparison I am not sure of this.

Pretty...
"Awww. Doesn't this look pretty!"

DVD & Extras
Ok, the dvd itself comes with a beautifully done animated main menu. It has a clip from the film of Yi-Hang in his younger years practising his swordplay. The reds and the oranges in that scene perfectly compliment the design of the rest of the menu. In the sub-menues, however, there is no animated backdrop. Those menues are static. For extras there are Star and Director Filmographies, Stephen Teo film notes, Eastern Cinema Trailer Reel, Language and subtitle selection and scene selection. Pretty much the usual sort of thing, although thankfully still more than quite a few Hong Kong released DVDs.

Bubbles...
"Bubbles? Where the damn bubbles?!"

Overall
Overall The Bride With White Hair is an excellent film on an OK dvd. The audio, subtitles and film print, with the exception of the minor niggles which I have mentioned, are good, but an anamorphic print would have been much nicer! Where it is let down is in the extras department. Interviews with the actors/actresses/director would have been nice, a behind the scenes look at the filming of many of the scenes would have been nicer, but what you do have is the usual sort of 'run of the mill' extras. That is a shame as the film deserved more. Nonetheless, I cannot recommend this film strongly enough to you. It is a brilliant film, full of everything, action, fantasy, swordplay, love, romance... Whatever you are looking for in a Hong Kong film, this is bound to have it - with the obvious exception of any sort of gun play! Find it somewhere and buy it!

Eyes...
"I got my eyes on you..."


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All review content copyrighted © (2003-2009) Kris Wojciechowski

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