Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Bride with White Hair (1993)

The Bride with White Hair is not quite my first Hong Kong kung fu movie. The only other such films I’ve seen are Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and a rather excellent Japanese sci-fi/swordsplay movie called The Princess Blade. I don’t know how typical these films are of this genre, but if they are typical I could easily get hooked. The Bride with White Hair features some lyrically beautiful cinematography, magnificent sets, and lots of extreme and graphic violence. It combines all this with an insanely romantic and beautifully told love story. There are lots of swords, and there’s definitely some sorcery, so I think it probably qualifies as sword and sorcery! There’s also some rather good acting. Leslie Cheung is very good as a young man being groomed to take over leadership of an alliance of clans. He provides most of the film’s humour, and manages to be moody, romantic, dashing and surprisingly whimsical. Brigitte Lin, in the title role, gives a more restrained performance but she also manages to make her character believable, complex and charismatic. The plot involves a couple of malevolent sorcerous twins plotting to take over the province for their cult, a young swordsman (Leslie Cheung) who has to lead an army against them, and a mysterious wolf girl (Brigitte Lin) who belongs to the cult but falls in love with the young swordsman. The fight sequences are fairly impressive although I haven’t really got used to the flying-through-the-air thing they do in these movies. It’s the love story, though, that is the most impressive part of the movie. It’s skilfully plotted, well acted, imaginatively directed and very entertaining.

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