Plot: What’s it about?
Zhou Yi-Hang (Leslie Cheung) is the commander of the Wu Tang Clan warrior forces and heir to the Wu Tang throne as well. He is a very skilled swordsman and holds the respect of his people, which is a power unto itself. This seems like a great position to hold, but Yi-Hang is tired of his place in life and since he is very sensitive, he longs for a new path to take. At this time, the Wu Tang forces are involved in battles against an evil cult, as well as various foreign tribes. Within the cult is Lien (Brigitte Lin), who is a skilled assassin, but also a beautiful young woman. She is also tired of her place and wishes to change things, which starts to happen when she meets Yi-Hang. The two fall in love and begin a passionate romance, but this enrages both sides of the battle and of course, puts them into a fragile position indeed…
In the realm of Hong Kong cinema, there’s a wealth of excellent films and of course, a list of films that demand to be seen. If one were to compile a list of Hong Kong movies that were “must see” titles, The Bride with White Hair would be included, to be sure. This is a very fun movie, filled with swords, kung fu, intense visuals, and of course, some old fashioned romance. Yes, there’s a love story involved here, but don’t let that trick you, this is an adventure picture, at least in my opinion. This movie has some awesome fight sequences, which employ improbable, but very entertaining methods and that means wild moments, to say the least. When you add some amazing visuals to those fight sequences, we’re talking tremendous impact and that’s true here, thanks to the incredible production design effort. We’re talking lush, colorful backdrops, wondrous costumes, and more, this one will make you rub your eyes with disbelief at times. In short, this is an impressive movie that is highly recommended and since Tai Seng has issued a fine treatment, there’s no reason not to give this one a spin.
At the helm of The Bride with White Hair is director Ronny Yu, who delivers what I think is the peak of his career. I do think he’s made some other wonderful pictures, but this is Yu’s masterpiece, at least I think so. Aside from some small flaws here and there, Yu’s direction is excellent and then some here, very impressive work indeed. Yu has shown often that he can handle large scale movies, but he seems in top form here and never allows the flick to drift, which says a lot about his skill level, to be sure. Other films directed by Yu include Legacy of Rage, The Postman Fights Back, Bride of Chucky, Warriors of Virtue, and The Phantom Lover. The cast includes Leslie Cheung (Ashes of Time, Farewell My Concubine), Brigitte Lin (Chungking Express, Dragon Inn), Elaine Lui (Stone Age Warriors, The Red Wolf), and Francis Ng (2000 AD, A Man Called Hero).
Video: How does it look?
The Bride with White Hair is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. I do wish this was anamorphic, but I wasn’t let down with this transfer in the least, very good work indeed. The film’s intense visuals are well presented and never suffer at all, which is vital to the movie’s impact, to say the least. The colors stream across the screen in vivid hues, never too rich however, while flesh tones look natural, or at least as intended in some cases. No errors with the contrast either, which shows strong overall detail and very sharp black levels, this is one heck of a visual treatment. I was also pleased to see that the source print used looks very clean, impressive work indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
You’re given a few options in the audio department, as this disc contains 2.0 surround tracks in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. In other words, all the viewers should pleased with this one, as it seems to have the needed bases covered. Of course, the optimal choice is the Cantonese language track and if needed, the included English subtitles, which are very well done. This is an active track as far as 2.0 surround options go, so fans should be quite satisfied. I heard a lot of directional use and the surrounds are used to suck you into the action, very cool indeed. The music also sounds terrific here, while dialogue seems to be sharp and consistent also, no real complaints in the end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc also contains some cool bonus materials, such as an audio commentary track with director Ronny Yu. I’ve heard a few of his tracks and liked them, so I knew I was in for a treat here, which turned out to be the truth. Yu discusses the extensive work that went into the visuals, his experiences with the cast, and various other topics in the session. You can also check out some talent files, a brief behind the scenes featurette, and some theatrical trailers.