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白髮魔女傳 (1993)
The Bride with White Hair

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 11/03/2008

Filmed exclusively at night this extreme Romeo & Juliet is based on a Chinese folk tale whose narrative occasionally succumbs to Peter Pau's translucent cinematography and Phillip Kwok Chun-fung's graphic, elegant, unpretentious choreography. Taiwanese model turned Hong Kong actress Brigitte Lin is probably best known for the aforementioned bride with untamable white locks. Action starlet Elaine Lui co-stars as one half of a Siamese twin villain whose obnoxious laugh is offset by Francis Ng's over-the-top delivery.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 11/20/2007

cho yi hong (leslie cheung) is the wu tang's most accomplished swordsman; it is a life that has been thrust upon him, having been an orphan, raised by the clan. when cultists, led by siamese twins chi wu shuang (francis ng and elaine lui), begin to threaten the wu tang and the seven other clans, cho is dispatched to kill them. cho yi hong has (have?) other plans, though, dispatching lien (brigitte lin), a supremely talented martial artist who was raised by wolves, to kill cho and the leaders of the eight clans. the thing is, lien and cho have a connection which, instead of killing each other, makes them fall in love...

a much lauded romantic fantasy from ronny yu, this is a classy wu xia which concentrates more on love, than martial arts. sure, there are some impressive elements to the action; mainly people losing heir heads and being cut in half, but there's not much in the way of intricate choreography. the filter heavy, slow motion cinematography doesn't really help...

still, there's a lot more in to enjoy here, than martial arts; a simple, yet effective narrative is raised in quality by the fantastic production design (well, for a 1993 wu xia) and the effort that has been invested in the production. leslie cheung and brigitte lin add an air of quality to proceedings, whilst francis ng (who i didn't recognise until around half way through the film) is just plain scary.

good stuff...

Reviewed by: Anticlimacus
Date: 03/30/2007
Summary: Typical Pre-2000 Wuxia

I've seen over a dozen wuxia films, but the only ones that are worth watching were released after the new millennium: House of Flying Daggers (2004), Hero (2002), and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000).

Everything else I've seen has been an utter waste of my time: The Bride With White Hair (1993), A Man Called Hero (1999), Storm Riders (1998), Ashes of Time (1994), A Chinese Odyssey Part 2 (1994), Butterfly Sword (1993), and A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) to name a few. There have been some bad films made post-2000 (e.g., 2005's The Promise), but the pre-2000 wuxia library is thoroughly horrible. Even more disturbing is that these films are hideous for the same exact reasons:

1) Awful screenplay. 2) Atrocious action choreography. 3) Dreadful editing.

The Bride With White Hair is not exempt from these common wuxia pitfalls. The screenplay simply fails to properly develop the romantic relationship between the two leads. They spoon each other in a mini waterfall for 10 minutes, and the viewer is supposed to be convinced that they care for each other. It's not convincing in the least. In fact, the script writers contradict themselves near the end of the film when the two leads do everything in their power to desert one another. Their actions are beyond stupid, as they inexplicably begin to doubt one another on speculative events that are promulgated from the institutions and persons that they initially abandoned for the sole purpose of being together. There is no reason for them to give a rat's arse about these people anymore, yet the male lead sides with them without hesitation. At that point, I wanted both leads to die for counterfeiting the very idea of love.

The action choreography is non-existent in The Bride With White Hair. A character waves their sword or whip at the camera, which immediately cuts to show an enemy instantly die. Repeat ad infinitum. The final fight is laughable when two siamese twins (connected at the back) grab hold of one of the protagonists and bounce around the room like a superball. Interestingly, the sub-par editing is directly related to the fight scenes themselves. It's much easier to cut up the movie on an ad hoc basis to gloss over the unimaginative character interactions in combat, instead of mapping out fight scenes and brainstorming over fresh combinations of moves and maneuvers. There's really nothing else to say other than the obvious fact that no effort was put into the action set pieces, and it shows.

It would seem that filmmakers within the wuxia genre showed almost no development or improvement before the year 2000. It is thus important that this review exists to inform readers of the futility inherent in watching wuxia films released during that period of time. Nearly twenty reviews of The Bride With White Hair exist, almost all of them overwhelmingly positive, but the reasoning behind these high ratings is dubious at best. The pre-2000 wuxia camp seems to consist solely of fanboys who will eat up anything and everything released under that particular genre's banner.

As a fan of East Asian cinema, I think that this is a disservice to new viewers who are attempting to make the transition to better cinema. They may hit a pre-2000 wuxia film and go running (perhaps screaming) back to Hollywood.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 02/18/2007

Much has been written about this movie. It has had a ton of exposure at art houses and HK film festivals throughout the world. Ronnie Yu has been championed by critics in various media outlets including the pages of this humble publication.

"The Bride with White Hair" is a visually feast. Filmed in Super-Panavision, the movie is full of amazing sets and costumes. Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia turns in a wonderful performance as the Wolf Girl with super martial arts powers. The late Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing plays her lover Cho, the young leader of Wu Tang and a master sword fighter. Raised by wolves, Lin's character is adopted by the underground Mo Cult, led by Siamese male/female twins joined at the back! She is trained as the #1 killer who uses a whip to severe her enemies limbs. heads, and torsos. The action scenes are incredibly choreographed with the editing and framing adding to the beautiful sense of movement throughout the movie.

The screenplay of the film is centered on the character of Cho Yi-hang and his search for the mysterious girl who saved him from an attack of wolves. Years later, Cho is the chosen leader of Wu Tang, amid much controversy. The two star-crossed lovers meet again during a childbirth, and Cho follows Lien, the wolf girl, to her secret place at the Riverlake. He watches Lien as she bathes in the waterfalls. She discovers him hiding but must run off to her master before they learn about each other. Later, after being ordered to kill the leaders of Wu Tang [Cho included], the two begin a torrid love affair at the Riverlake hideaway.

If you are reading this magazine for the first time looking for a good example of Hong Kong cinema, then "The Bride with White Hair" is perfect for you. It has all the elements of excitement that are missing from movies produced elsewhere[read Hollywood]. If you are already a fan of HK films and you are a guy with a significant other who thinks kung fu movies don't offer her anything then watch the "Bride" with her. She will love the late Leslie Cheung's performance, especially in the extended love scenes in the water. After the gender bending roles Brigitte Lin had played prior to this in "Swordsman II" and "The East is Red", it is really nice to see her in a sexy feminine role making love to a man.

Directing his 11th feature, Ronnie Yu has made a lavishly beautiful motion picture. While not as prolific as some other Hong Kong filmmakers, his projects seem carefully chosen and worthy of the viewer's time.

Originally published in Asian Cult Cinema #12
Copyright © 1996 J.Crawford

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/19/2005

The Bride with White Hair

Wow—what a movie!

This isn’t really a review since everyone on this board must have seen “The Bride with White Hair”. However, here are a few of my reactions to it.

First all it, it is a masterpiece. The parts of which it consists are amazingly good and it is more than the sum of these wonderful parts.

The score is perfect. It is as good a musical accompaniment for an action movie as has ever been done. Compare it with (for example) the scores from “The Godfather”, “Once Upon a Time in the West” or “Jaws”—it is every bit as thrilling in itself and appropriate to what is happening onscreen.

Ji Wushuang is a perfectly evil villain (or villains). The hermaphrodite co-joined set of twins is a being that the viewer can really love to hate. Super strong, incapable of even the most basic human emotions, he/she lives for killing.

Leslie Cheung as Zhuo Yi-Hang plays a character at least as old as the “Iliad”. Like Achilles on the plains of Troy sulking in his tent he has an agenda different than wholesale slaughter. Cheung is perfectly cast as the sensitive warrior who has seen and done enough killing. The world that Zhuo Yi-Hang inhabits is very well depicted—a military state, constantly under attack by enemies from without and beset by political intrigue from within.

Brigitte Lin—I have no words for this astonishingly talented and beautiful actress. Her ordeal upon leaving the evil clan is incredible and her simple “May I leave now,” at its end is heart rending.

The extended love scene in the pond between Zhuo Yi-Hang and Lian Ni Chang is very sexy and sensuous and, in its own way, much more true to life than similar scenes in western movies. They make love, rest, talk, make love again, talk again, make plans, declare how much they love each other and make love again. When Yi-Hang says that he would rather be struck by lightening than lose the newly named Lian Ni Chang, it is something that we can see ourselves saying—he says it after leaping to the top of a very tall tower of rock but in the context of this movie that makes all the sense in the world.

There is more—much, much more—that makes “The Bride with White Hair” such an extraordinary film.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

The story of two lovers, Lian (Lin) a witch, and a swordsman Zhuo (Cheung) who are on opposite sites of a revolutionary battle.

A frenzied mix of action and romance that is one of the most popular HK films of all time and paved the way for many imitators. The story (based on a Chinese novel) is top notch, the two leads have great chemistry together (which makes the romance believable) and the fight sequences are stunningly choreographed. If there is fault to be found with the film, director Yu does overuse slow-motion in the action sequences and, while most of the movie looks great, at other points it looks very cheap.

At any rate, this is top-notch fare and a perfect way to show someone that there is more to HK movies than kung fu and gun battles.

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Very Good, but not the best.

This was a top epic with cracking music/atmosphere and good fight scenes. Some of the things within were a bit weird but overall it was storming. Unfortunately this category of films also has other productions which rise above this film such as (don't shoot me!) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Having said that TBWWH is well worth a watch, and if you like this sort of thing, maybe a purchase.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 05/29/2002

This is an unbelievable movie, especially to come out of HK. In my original review a year ago, I thought the movie was slightly overrated, but that's because I hadn't seen it for several years. Now that I've watched it again, several things have become clear again.

1) Brigitte Lin, the most beautiful (not hot or sexy, just plain beautiful) woman IMO, has never looked better than in this film. She looks 25, when she was really 40.

2) This is one of the most incredibly weird movies ever. Some of the scenes are really off the wall. Believe me, this is no ordinary wuxia movie. Expect some grotesque stuff (which are cool)

3) It's very special as well, since it is so unique.

4) I would be very surprised if this wasn't rated CAT III. There is a scene where a woman is stripping naked, in addition to the steamy sex scenes between Leslie and Brigitte and the ultraviolent scenes throughout.

All in all, this is one of the really strangely made movies that became a success due to its uniqueness. The cinematography and the flashy camera shots may not be your cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ksbutterbox
Date: 02/12/2002
Summary: Peter Pau Rules!

I was so blown away years ago by this movie. No wonder it is still a top seller and the finest Brigitte Lin ever looked in later years! Even with white flowing hair she is still hands down one of the most beautiful women period! Some complain of the slo-mo fight scenes,or not enough of them..but they're missing the point. This is one of the most romantic,greatest looking swordplay movies ever made. The music is top me I'm a composer..and Yammie Nam, Leslie Cheung,Francis Ng & Elaine Lui are "over the top" & fabulous! But this is Brigitte's finest hour with that "don't mess w/ me or I'll kill you" look she is so famous for. Everyone I've shown this movie to is very, very, impressed. Ronnie Yu and Peter Pau rule with this movie. A Classic. Somebody take note, and offer Brigitte the right cash for a comeback...Please..Please..!

Reviewed by: Trigger
Date: 06/15/2001
Summary: Must Own title

I liked it. It moved a little slow at first for me, but the end came too soon and left me wanting more (too bad part 2 is such a piece of poo). One thing I notice with alot of early 90's HK films is that they get so wrapped up in expository set-up that it takes awhile for them to get the ball rolling. Instead of saying "Don't do that", they give a stern look, put their hands on their hips, shake their finger and grit their teeth at us... we know what "Don't do that" means, but they have to really go over-the-top with it. I'm speaking figuratively, not literally. In many ways it's part of what makes HK cinema so great, but in other ways it can become tiresome and distracting. Still - it's a film that I certainly enjoyed and will watch again.

I gotta say that the Tai Seng DVD is packed. Commentary, making-of featurette, 3 language tracks, and a great transfer.

Seen on: Tai Seng DVD

Rating: Movie - 7.9/10

DVD Extras - 8/10

DVD Presentation - 7/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Buckeyez
Date: 06/08/2001
Summary: Gloomy and dull

I may be in the minority with this but I thought the cinematography in Bride with White Hair was gloomy and distasteful and not my kind of film. This "dark" imagery was annoying and there was nothing appealing since everything looked like it took place at night or in a cave. Personally, I was expecting more but was bitterly disappointed. There were some interesting scenes that were engaging but overall I would not see this movie again.

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Ummm...............

I had high expectations of this movie since everyone said it was good, but to me it was pretty average. Nothing new here unfortunately and only a few fight scenes!!

For some reason, i feel generous giving this:


Reviewed by: e3s8
Date: 03/23/2001
Summary: The most visually engaging film ever made!

Ronny Yu directs this romantic swordsplay masterpiece that features some of the most stunning imagery I've ever seen on film--shifting from glorious dreams to haunting nightmares.

Brigitte Lin and Leslie Cheung are both outstanding in this movie and have a great on-screen chemistry.

Almost a decade before "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", "The Bride With White Hair" was the epic swordsplay film that was laden with heart and pathos. Of course, it's far more dark and perverted than CTHD, but that only makes it better to a true fan of edgy cinema.

Reviewed by: toto63
Date: 07/17/2000
Summary: great love story

So beautiful movie!
great action, magnificent colors and scenography, but mostly a so strong love story!

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/27/1999
Summary: Ronnie Yu's most heralded production.....

Brigette Lin is absolutely luminous in this masterpiece from director Ronnie Yu. Great wire-work choreography and beautiful cinematography by Peter Pau makes this one of Yu's best films, and is by far the most reknowned in the west.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Brigitte Lin is cool and hot! Leslie Cheung (or his body double) does *very* well with Chinese style sword play. Star-crossed lovers story bears resemblances to plot elements of Zen of Sword and Butterfly and Sword. The ending leaves you hanging, a bit, but you can imagine would should happen... Beautifully filmed.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

After hearing so many good things about this film, I was really looking forward to watching it. Man, was I disappointed. The fighting was O.K. (if not a bit sick; a guy gets cut into eight pieces), but there wasn't enough fight scenes. The story had promise, but the bad guys were just too weird. A brother-sister who happen to be siamese twins (how exactly does that happen with non-identical twins?) that are so strange it defies explanation. Trying to have a touching love story with deceit versus trust as the main subject simply didn't work. Ronny Yu is better than this (as evidenced by "The Warriors of Virtue").


[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

The wolf-girl attempts to leave the Riverlake with her lover, butwhen she is framed for the massacre of his clan, he does not believe her claims of innocence. Her hair turns white because of his betrayal, and she leaves him. In remorse, he exiles himself on a cold mountain peak -- the only place where a flower that he had once promised to her grows.

[Reviewed by Eric Yin]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

In this masterpiece of set-decoration, Brigitte Lin stars as a witch in the potent Mo cult. Between sensational flying and fighting scenes, she falls in love with swordsman Lian (Leslie Cheung), for whom she relinquishes her powers. Surprising scenes of violence and steamy sex disordered my thoughts.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 8