Tai Seng Video Marketing
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia
Extras: Trailers, Biographies
Based on a novel from the 1950’s, "The Bride With White Hair" tells the story of Cho Yi Hang (Leslie Cheung), a member of the Wu Tang Clan (and yes, this is where the musical act got its name). We watch him grow up under the strict eyes of his master, who teaches him leadership and sword fighting skills, grooming him so that one day Cho can become the new leader of the eight clans that make up Wu Tang. Cho has a mind of his own, and thus often runs into problems with the clan’s elders, but when a dark and evil cult appears, he knows that he has to fight for the Wu Tang, to defend their freedom with his life.
When Cho lays his eyes on her, he immediately falls in love with the mysterious beauty. Lien herself is attracted to the enemy and when Lien is wounded during a battle, Cho runs to her rescue, taking her away from the battlefield. Despite being enemies, they fall in love and promise faith and trust. Caught between opposing sides in a bloody war going, this trust and faith is tested to its utmost limits. Lien and Cho have to not only battle the enemy they love, but also their own inner demons in an attempt to overcome the traditional barriers of their clans.
At its core, "The Bride With White Hair" is a very adult Romeo & Juliet story, with a climax that is simply stunning. Without wanting to give away too much of the story, this film has a surprise ending that you will not find in a standard Hollywood movie. It breaks with all conventions and toys with the viewer’s expectations, leaving you outright dazzled. This is indicative of the rest of this film. Hardly anything is as it seems, and the look, sound, and feel of the movie is very unique, setting it clearly apart from other sword-and-sorcery films. It was director Ronny Yu’s intention from the start of the project that this film look and feel completely different than the rest of the pack; he even employed a Japanese designer for the colorful costumes. Many influences have found their way into the set and costume design, especially the design of the Supreme Cult, resulting in a sea of shimmering cloth and jewelry in an exotic mixture of Chinese, Tibetan, Indian, and Japanese influences.
Everything in the film works tightly together to create this enchanting experience: the effective lighting, the set design, the great cast and the tangible characters, the costumes, the heartbreaking story, the editing, the music, everything. Considering that this film had a production time of only 8 weeks, mostly shot on soundstages on the backlots of the Mandarin Film Studios, marks this as an even more remarkable achievement, one that speaks clearly for all the cast and crew’s skills and professionalism. The film won, for good reason, several of the prestigious Hong Kong Film Awards, the counterpart of the American Academy Award.
Tai Seng have once again gone to an great length to clean up the film print used for this transfer and the result is a sharp clean image that shows no signs of wear. The movie is presented in its original 2.35:1 theatrical <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio. Visionary art movies like "The Bride With White Hair" are tough cookies for DVD’s MPEG compression and once again, Tai Seng prove that they are in full charge of the medium. The film’s heavy shadows, as well as the often used-blue and red tinges, have been converted absolutely flawlessly on this release. There is not a hint of <$chroma,chroma noise> or color bleeding to be found even during the most stressing scenes and compression artifacts are at a minimum. It gives a silky, live, and film-like quality to the movie that cannot be found on VHS or the film’s Laserdisc version. It is releases like this one that show how much DVD can actually do for films to enhance the movie experience. Nothing distracts from the actual film, allowing you to fully emerge into this exotic world.
The film comes fully dubbed in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin and features clean English subtitles. As with Tai Seng’s previous releases, this film automatically defaults to the Cantonese soundtrack with English subtitles turned on, the configuration most lovers of this film will certainly prefer. The disc also contains trailers, extensive cast & crew biographies, and a featurette called "The Making Of The Bride With White Hair", which gives an interesting look behind the scenes of the film. The disc also contains a running-length <$commentary,commentary track> by director Ronny Yu who has quite a bit to say about the film’s production and what his intentions were when he created this movie. Hearing him say these things and seeing how he translated them into visuals is fascinating and entertaining at the same time.
A visionary film like "The Bride With White Hair" easily creates a cult following and also easily becomes the target of copycats. After having seen before how blatantly Hollywood lifts complete scenes from Hong Kong movies to put it in their own creations, it is hardly surprising that a lot of this particular film’s scenes can be found in current American work. I would like to direct your attention to an interesting web page that focuses on a number of such uninspired rip-offs. Click here to see how the television series "Xena" utilized a visionary Hong Kong film to create an image for itself, just as it did with "A Chinese Ghost Story" and countless other Hong Kong films before.
"The Bride With White Hair" is an adult fairy tale that masterfully brings across the heartfelt love story at its core. It is a film about love and hate, faith, trust and betrayal and the way it is told is nothing short of perfect. Every image of the film has been picked and composed very carefully for maximum impact, both visually and emotionally, leaving nothing to be desired. It is clearly one of the best movies made in Hong Kong I have seen. If you still have preconceived notions of bad acting and silly stories or dialogues with Hong Kong movies, this film will put a definite end to it. It is superbly crafted, excellently acted, and gorgeously transferred to DVD. This film is clearly one that belongs in every DVD collection.
The disc’s quality is just as good as the first one, with a stunning image quality that breathes additional life into the film. No noise or color bleeding and no digital artifacts are on this disc either, and once again, Tai Seng offers fully dubbed versions in English, Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles. As I said earlier, if you enjoyed the first film, you definitely want to take a look at "The Bride With White Hair 2", too.