THE WHITE HAIRED WITCH OF LUNAR KINGDOM (白发魔女传之明月天国) DVD (2014)
SYNOPSIS: In the twilight of the Ming Dynasty, the Imperial court is plagued by corruption as tyrants rule over the land. With the Manchurians preying on a weakened empire, war is imminent. The situation is even worse near the northwest border, where widespread famine is rapidly claiming lives. To save the victims from further suffering, sorceress Jade Raksha fights the soldiers that oppress people for their own gain. As payback, local government officials decide to pin the murder of Governor Zhuo Zhonglian on Jade, turning her and the members of her cult into wanted fugitives for a crime they didn’t commit. Meanwhile, Wudang sect’s Master Ziyang intends to nominate disciple Zhuo Yihang to become the next sect leader, sending him to the capital to present the Red Bolus to the Emperor as royal tribute. However, the emperor dies after consuming the Red Bolus, and the Imperial Guards are quickly dispatched to capture Yihang……
Two of China’s hottest actors, Huang Xiaoming and Fan Bingbing teamed up to play the titular characters, Zhuo Yihang and Lian Nishang in this latest remake of wuxia novelist Liang Yushen’s famous work, The White Haired Witch.
The world has turned into some sort of a fast food nation and inevitably that’s the case for movies as well. The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom as it is known is a glaring example. Within 15 minutes, the viewers are treated to a mash up of events that ranged from the kind noble people from the Wudang clan, a corrupt Eunuch Wei (Ni Dahong), a pending war with the Jins, an evil General Jin (Vincent Zhao) and of course the loving meeting of our leading characters in a cave.
In addition, you got to pay attention to the occasional flashing of names and events with dozens of other smaller characters emerging in and out of the story. Such is the problem with The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom. You are never invested in the characters nor are you keen in the speed-up expository in the end even if the entire affair is helmed by veteran HK director Jacob Cheung (Cageman, A Battle of Wits) and Tsui Hark in the capacity of Artistic Consultant.
Comparing this to the 1993 version that starred the late Leslie Cheung and Brigitte Lin is unavoidable. Back then; The Bride with White Hair was a lavish production, which became a two-parter affair. Cheung and Lin sizzled onscreen with their ill-fated romance and nearly scorched everyone in the theaters with their heated passion and love. Unfortunately, Huang and Fan both capable actors in their own right disappoints in their first pair up. It could be Huang’s injury during production that hinders his performance or likely it’s the ambitious plotting that failed miserably to juggle between war and matters of the heart.
Despite a runtime of only 103 minutes,The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom is a vexing watch through and through. Technicalities are average given the scale of the story and Hark’s contribution to the production is questionable. In fact, my hair is fast turning white even before Lian Nishang does.
Visual is a plus given the excellent colors and details projected onscreen. Sound is a letdown as it’s only presented in Dolby Digital 2.0.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee