THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR
On it's face it may appear to be another "Wire-Fu" entry within the lexicon of 90's Martial Arts movies however, The Bride With White Hair is a cleverly disguised love story as well as a Kung-Fu film. The film opens with a lone swordsman standing guard over a mystical rose that will give perfect health and youth to whoever consumes it. The Emperor has dispatched agents to procure this Rose as his health is fading and death is most certainly the outcome. The agents attempt to collect the rose and all meet with a none too painless death at the hands of the watcher of the rose. Retrospectively, we are introduced to this guardian and the events that led to his protection of this fabled bloom. Many years earlier, he was the leader of the Wu-Tang clan during the heyday of this current emperor. When an edict was pronounced to kill all of the members of an evil cult that has it's eyes on the Emperor's lands. During the conflict, Cho Hsiang's (Leslie Cheung) meets a mysterious female warrior (Brigette Lin Ching) who single-handedly decimates his compatriots. Instantly, there is an attraction however, they are on opposing sides and there can be no fraternization between the two. The romance does not go unnoticed by both sides and the two soon end up on the outs with both groups. Not wanting to fight they end up on opposing sides once again and incredibly detailed battle sequences are the end result. Will the two become an item or, will their military allegiances keep them apart? You have to see the film to find out. Suffice it to say, the answers are not soon in coming but all that comes between is more than eye candy. The storyline is exciting and definitely engaging. Definitely a must-see for fans of the genre. And by the by, that whole issue surrounding the rose is explained as well!
The audio is presented in several formats. The first is a Cantonese language track presented in Dolby 2-channel surround. The balance of the tracks (English, Mandarin) are presented in a very lackluster Mono platform. The commentary track featuring Director Ronny Yu is encoded on the Dolby 2-channel surround platform as an additional English track. The Surround Platform does a very nice job in presenting one of the richest audio presentations for a martial arts movie in it's original language that I have heard. While there is no sub activity, the surround (Fronts, Rears) effect is decent and conveys the audio in an attractive fashion. The dialogue was all clear and the subtitles were easily read and understood.
Director's Commentary: Featuring Ronny Yu is a decent commentary that opens the door on all the information regarding Yu's impetus for making this Re-make of a classic 1960's adaptation of the same book. The first thing that Yu did was to consolidate some of the characters in the novel and make the central characters fewer in number. Secondly, he sought to push the envelope sexually, in portraying the love scenes between Cheung and Ching. By American standards, these lengths are not groundbreaking in any regard however, for Mainland Chinese, this kind of in-your-face sexuality is just not done. The film is not graphic and there is very little nudity. The scenes in question are very tasteful and not at all like the bumping and grinding of American Cinema. Additionally, Yu opened up the audio aspect of the film by including a DD2.0 platform, which is not the norm for most Martial Arts films. Bride With White Hair is actually, the first to use DD2.0 Surround for a film. Not surprisingly, budget constraints are also the subject of the commentary. Yu divulges that in the massacre scene of Chapter 8 the cavalry consisted of only four horses intercut many times to give the impression of a marauding army. I found his commentary to be very interesting and informative. There are great spots of silence during the commentary but on the whole it kept my attention.
The video is presenter in a 2.35:1 widescreen format and is full of very beautiful and rich colors that further demonstrate, Yu's great visual style. There were a few moments when the film appeared to jump and some flecks throughout the picture made their presence known as well. I noticed slight pixellation in the very darkest scenes in a couple of chapters as well as softness about the image throughout the film. On the whole it's not a bad picture but the transfer could have been cleaned up a bit better.
The weird thing about this disc is the menu can only be accessed at the end of the feature. If you try to get any of the extras before the end of the picture, you get the chapter selections but that's it. Anyway, the extras are pretty decent. They include:
The Making of The Bride With White Hair. This is a 12-minute documentary on the making of the film. It features very short interviews with the Director, Producer, A representative of Tai Seng Video Marketing Corp., both Stars of the movie and the stunt coordinator, set designer and screenwriter.
Five trailers are included. Most notable are the trailers for Bride With White Hair 1and 2. The trailers are all in pretty poor shape and are presented in full frame/mono.
Filmographies and Bios: are included for the stars and Director as well.
This is a very fun movie. It ahs everything to keep your attention and really presented an enjoyable hour and a half. I can't wait for Bride 2!