While there have been many Hong Kong fantasy films, like Ching Siu-Tung’s A Chinese Ghost Story and Ronny Yu’s The Bride with White Hair, I can easily say that Wuershan’s Painted Skin: The Resurrection is one of the best to come out of the country’s cinema and sets the bar extremely high for future fantasy films to come. Granted, it is the sequel to Gordon Chan’s Painted Skin, that was released in 2008, but I’ve never seen that film and can’t attest to its scope nor its ambition towards the genre. Resurrection follows Xhao Wei (Zhou Xun), a fox spirit that was imprisoned into a giant glacier, for being in love with a human. She breaks free and embarks on the journey of becoming a human, by consuming a male heart, that is willingly given to her. She gets between two lovers, Princess Jing (Zhao Wei) and her elite general, Huo Xin (Chen Kun), that have an unspoken love for one another. The relationship between them is already strained, with Huo Xin feeling guilty, by failing to protect her years before. As a reminder, Princess Jing wears a golden mask to conceal her scars, but still wishes to be with Huo, regardless of what’s happened. Xhao Wei offers the princess a way to obtain her wishes to be with the general, but would come at a cost to all three of the parties involved. Filled with beautiful imagery, an impressive cast and plenty of other elements that makes Painted Skin: The Resurrection one of the best things I’ve seen out of Hong Kong and easily rivals some of the bigger films coming out of Hollywood today.
The first two standouts of the film are Arthur Wong’s cinematography and Hao Yi’s production design, that just leaps off the screen. From here, we are thrown into the compelling dynamic between the three main characters, their love triangle and the back and forth between them. Never at any point did I feel confused as to what was going on, even though this film is a sequel. While I’m sure the first Painted Skin gives some more insight to motivations of Xhao Wei, this sequel manages to stand on its own and tell a different love story than the first, from what I’ve gathered by context. All of the action set pieces work really well and all of the special effects, from the make up to the CGI used, are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a Hong Kong film.
The Blu-Ray disc from Well Go USA, does a great job presenting the film with some really impressive video and audio tracks. The video is presented in a full 1080p, AVC encoded HD video track, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. With the film being shot on the Red One, the film looks great on Blu-Ray. Again, Arthur Wong’s cinematography is a real treat throughout the entire film and demands to be seen in HD. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, in the original Mandarin language. From the subtlety of the bird sounds used during Que’er’s head movements to the sounds of the battles, the audio track is another compelling element and helps in immersing the audience into this fantasy world. The only real extra is a 20 minute behind-the-scenes featurette, that is compiled of other smaller ones. It shows each of the main characters and their motivations for the roles, as well as some of the look into the production design process, the recording of Katsunori Ishida’s score and plenty of other elements that were instrumental to the overall film.
I had a wonderful time watching Wuershan’s entry into the fantasy genre and think that he certainly shows some promise as a director. While some people might dismiss him from his previous effort, 2010′s The Butcher, The Chef and The Swordsman, one should definitely give this film a look, for its wonderful setting and epic scope that is sure to captures anyones imagination. Highly Recommended!