Painted Skin: The Resurrection
画皮 II
Opens 5 July 2012
Some Sexual Scenes
Genre Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Duration 132 mins
LanguageMandarin with English & Chinese Subtitles
Director Wu'ershan 乌尔善
Cast Vicki Zhao 赵薇, Zhou Xun 周迅, Fei Xiang 费翔, Chen Kun 陈坤, Yang Mi 杨幂, Feng Shaofeng 冯绍峰
 
The Story
According to the demon lore, it takes hundreds of years to attain human form. Even then, lacking a human heart, a demon cannot experience the true pains and passions of existence.

However, there is a legend that if a pure human heart is freely offered to a demon, it can become a mortal and experience true life.

Xiaowei (Zhou Xun), a millennia-old fox spirit, has been imprisoned for centuries under a frozen lake as punishment for violating the laws of the demon world. Her sheer will to survive attracted the bird spirit Que’r (Mini Yang) who broke through the ice and revived her. Xiaowei saw two choices: experience true death or become truly human. She regains her strength – and youth – by consuming the heart of a stranger, transforming herself into a beautiful seductress. Unknown to her, the stranger is the Prince of Tian Lang Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Princess Jing (Vicki Zhao), the fourteenth daughter of the Han Dynasty King, has been betrothed to the Tian Lang Prince, so as to maintain peace in her own kingdom. The offer of marriage, however, is a trick by Queen (Chen Tingjia) of the Tian Lang Kingdom and the chief wizard (Kris Phillips) who plot to reincarnate the dead prince in a black magic ceremony employing Jing’s beating heart and the powerful blood that runs through the veins of the Exorcist Pang (William Feng).

Jing was once the most beautiful woman in her kingdom until a bear disfigured her face on a hunt at the age of 15. Since then, she has worn a golden mask across half her face. Her personal guard, General Huo Xin (Chen Kun), chose to leave the palace, ashamed at his failure to protect her. He was transferred to the western frontier. Jin disobeys her father’s order to marry, and flees west in search of Huo, her one true love.

A twist of fate brings Princess Jing and Xiaowei together on a journey. Xiaowei immediately realises Jing’s innocent heart is her best chance to transform into a human. But Jing must first be persuaded to offer her heart out of her own free will. Xiaowei pretends to be her attendant and travels with Jing to the White City where General Huo is garrisoned.

After so many years apart, General Huo Xin is overwhelmed with guilt when he encounters Jing again, and refuses to accept her love. At the same time, he is bewitched by Xiaowei’s demonic beauty. Xiaowei discloses her true demon self to the Princess and declares, “Every man, without exception, is obsessed by me, including your General Huo Xin”.

As Tian Lang warriors surround White City, the two women strike a deal. Since Princess Jing needs Xiaowei’s face to secure the General’s love, she is willing to exchange her live, beating heart for Xiaowei’s perfect skin. Unbeknownst to Jing, to maintain the youth of her newfound beauty, she must herself begin to consume live human hearts.
 
TrailerBack To Top
 
 
Review (1)Back To Top
By Wilson Ng
3 Jul 2012
Chinese fantasy/period films of late have mostly employed the same formula. Ever since Chen Kaige's big budget (yet infamously panned) The Promise (2005), producers seemed to have taken it as a permission to let loose on the CGI and compromise on the storyline.

Case(s) in point: Jet Li's double-whammy disappointments in 2011 showcased two Chinese classics The Sorcerer and the White Snake and The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate performing dismally amongst genre fans, heavily denting the once-respected brand of the period film.

Fortunately, though, this year's highly hyped follow-up to the original Painted Skin (2008) not only serves to restore faith in Chinese cinematic tales, but also proves that first-rate computer-generated visuals are not only reserved for Hollywood films.

The leads of the first movie return (sans Donnie Yen) to this 'resurrection' - namely Zhou Xun, Vicki Zhao and Chen Kun - with the ladies' mesmerising and heartbreaking performances easily warranting the ticket price.

Zhou's brilliantly seductive turn as fox demon Xiao Wei is fascinating to watch, her doe-like expressions coupled with her husky voice draws not only her victims in, but the viewers' undivided attention as well. On the other hand, Zhao's heart-wrenching role of a disfigured princess insecurely pining for Chen's General Huo Xin's love is tragic to witness, her strong exterior only accentuating her brittle interior.

The pair of powerhouse actresses literally carries the show - and the opulently gorgeous costumes - their interaction even more captivating when they finally switched their skins.

The aforementioned praise-worthy visuals are also in full display here: from the striking imagery of Zhou running through a field in a dramatic dress, down to the literally skin-crawling body-swap of the demon and the princess, they are often expertly and effectively executed.

However, the one major gripe about this second movie would have to be the disastrous secondary storyline involving the Tian Lang Kingdom. Chinese-American singer Kris Phillips - better known as Fei Xiang - single-handedly derails the second half of the film with his cringe-worthy babblings and uncomfortable Mandarin accent as a chief wizard bent on destroying the lives of Princess Jing and the general.

While the first Painted Skin deftly plays on central themes of love and sacrifice amidst the creepy tones of The Strange Tales of Liao Zhai, this pseudo-sequel snatches the attention away from a potentially solid screenplay of the sisterly bond between the two female protagonists, leaving audiences sniggering at the silly plot of a fictional kingdom's invasion.

That said, this part two of sorts does deliver strongly enough in the acting and special effects department that will be sufficient to thrill the average movie-goer, but like the original movie, there are still missed opportunities that can make this supernatural series a truly unique one.
Movie Still(s)Back To Top
  
 
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