Director: Gordon Chan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun, Chen
Kun, Qi Yuwu, Betty Sun, David Leong
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: GV, Mediacorp Raintree Pictures
& Scorpio East Pictures
Rating: PG (Some Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website: http://huapi.ent.sina.com.cn/
Opening Day: 26 September 2008
Skin" Singapore Press Conference
The story is adapted from the ancient Chinese classic ‘Ghost
Stories’ (or Liao Chai).
During the Chin and Han era, Commander Wang Sheng (by Chen
Kun) leads his troops in a raid on bandits in the desert,
in the process he rescues a beautiful woman and brings her
back with them. However he has no idea that this woman, Xiao
Wei (by Zhou Xun), is in fact a fox spirit in human form.
Xiao Wei needs a regular supply of human hearts to maintain
her human form, and the task falls on her helper Xiao Yi (by
Qi Yu Wu) – a chameleon who’s also taken on human
form and has the special ability to camouflage into the environment
he is in. To prove his love and devotion to Xiao Wei, he carries
out a spate of murders in order to provide her with human
hearts; this terrorizes the whole city.
Meanwhile, Xiao Wei has fallen in love with Wang Sheng, after
being impressed with his gallant attempt in rescuing her.
She keeps trying to seduce Wang in an effort to steal him
from his wife Pei Rong (by Vicki Zhao).
Pei Rong finds out about Xiao Wei’s feeling for her
husband; she also discovers that Xiao Wei is not human, so
she secretly approaches martial expert Pang Yong (by Donnie
Yen) and demon Catcher Xia Bing (by Sun Li) for help...
Subsequently a drama unfolds that delves into intricate emotions
and relationships between man and demon, love and passion,
loyalty and temptation, treachery and integrity, ending in
a finale with surprising twist.
Having braved countless supernatural movies, this reviewer
can proudly say that there hasn’t been one that has
managed to creep him out completely. However, since young,
he has been intrigued by the famous Chinese story series “The
Strange Tales of Liao Zhai”, a collection of supernatural
folk takes written during the early Qing Dynasty. The colorful
cast of characters includes vixen spirits, ghosts, humans
and exorcists. And as eerily haunting some of these tales
are, they often have a social message about human character.
Naturally, these stories spawned numerous movie and television
drama adaptations, and the latest one is directed by Hong
Kong filmmaker Gordon Chan (Okinawa Rendezvous, A1 Headline).
story tells of a vixen spirit who gets saved by a general,
and he brings her home, only to create trouble and unrest
amongst the townsfolk. The married man has no idea that the
spirit eats the hearts of her human beings to maintain her
good looks and her beautifully painted skin. Little does he
know that the spirit is also falling in love with him, and
chaos will ensue as a result of this human spirit love hate
this is the first time you are hearing about this storyline,
we don’t blame you if you find it creepy. The mental
image of a spirit shedding and painting its human skin to
beautify it is disturbingly spine chilling (cue the censorship
board’s consumer advice of “Some Disturbing Scenes”).
But the filmmakers know better than to make this marketing
machine a horror fest. With the godsend cast of Mainland Chinese
A-listers like Zhou Xun (Ming Ming, Perhaps Love), Vicki Zhao
(Red Cliff, The Postmodern Life of My Aunt), Chen Kun (Playboy
Cops, The Knot) and our very own Qi Yu Wu (The Leap Years,
The Home Song Stories), you can be sure it’s going to
be a box office hit. And with action super star Donnie Yen
(An Empress and the Warriors, Flash Point) headlining this
movie, you can be sure ticket sales will be going up, up,
this is where viewers may be mistaken that this 95 minute
picture is an action movie full of chop and schlock. Sure,
there are some niftily choreographed action sequences that
see the characters flying from rooftop to rooftop, but there
aren’t any grit and blood which you’d normally
expect from a movie starring Donnie Yen. In fact, this drama
is rather dreary to watch in its first half, where the story
sets itself up for the spirit to be introduced into the family.
highlight here definitely isn’t Qi’s portrayal
as a chameleon spirit, whose silver hair gel is more amusing
than anything. It also isn’t Yen’s comic relief
role as a martial arts expert, whose performance comes off
as rather lightweight. Some may pay attention to Chen Kun’s
brooding and gloomy performance as the emotionally undecided
general, or Sun Li’s (Fearless) cute and prancing demon
catcher, but these aren’t what really shine in this
collaboration between Singapore, China and Hong Kong.
audiences would be most impressed with are Zhou and Zhao’s
impressive performance as the vixen spirit and the devoted
wife respectively. With Zhou’s deep voice and illuminatingly
stunning features, she plays her role perfectly. And who would
have thought that Zhao (of the “Xiao Yan Zi” from
My Fair Princess fame) could play the role of a loyal and
dedicated spouse with such quiet steadfastness? In the hands
of a less capable actress, this character would have come
off infuriatingly irritating instead.
out for the scene where the two women confront each other
– the determination and relentless of the two characters
are inaudibly explosive. This is what true drama is all about
– characters which you empathize with, whether human
(Watch this for the deeply moving drama, not the scuffling
Review by John Li