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Painted Skin: The Resurrection(2012)
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, a fox spirit, has been imprisoned for centuries under a frozen lake for violating the laws of the demon world. Her sheer will to survive attracted the bird spirit Que’r, 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�
For more about Painted Skin: The Resurrection and the Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray release, see Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 23, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Zhou Xun, Zhao Wei (Vicky Zhao), Kun Chen
» See full cast & crew
Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 23, 2012
For all the increased market share of foreign titles on Blu-ray, there are still some occasional maddening lapses in releases, at least for those of us stateside who don't have multi-region players. Such is the case with Painted Skin, a hugely successful 2008 Chinese film that has yet to see a Region A release, but which a cursory review of Blu-ray.com's database shows has (or soon will have) some global releases:
Painted Skin 3D.
The problem, aside from not being able to see one of the more highly regarded fantasy films of the past several years, is that there's evidently a great deal of back story in the first film that informs large swaths of its sequel, Painted Skin: The Resurrection. We are offered a very brief recap at the head of this new film which helps us to understand at least a few of the salient facts about this kind of fairy tale exercise dealing with so-called "demons", animal spirits who take quasi-human form but are prevented from actually fully assuming a mortal existence until some human freely offers them their heart (by which is meant not falling in love, but physically offering their heart, which the demon consumes to assume human form). While Painted Skin: The Resurrection is a hugely entertaining and sumptuously produced romantic epic with a lot of fantasy elements swirling in and around its basic storyline, at times it does feel like we're joining an anecdote about halfway through, left to figure out some of the nuances by our own deductive reasoning.
As odd as it may sound, Painted Skin: The Resurrection has elements of the old Twilight Zone series, where a character wishes for something seemingly impossible, ultimately getting their wish only to discover there are strings (and/or twists) attached. The issue with Painted Skin: The Resurrection is that it does not have Twilight Zone's relative brevity and instead gets to the major twist only after a long and at times labored set up that gives us a lot of set up with at least a couple of tangential sidebars.
While there are (at least) two interlocking stories at play within Painted Skin: The Resurrection, the main arc deals with fox demon Xiaowei (Zhou Xun), who has been imprisoned in a block of ice for 500 years due to her decision to help a human (a story evidently told in the first Painted Skin film). Xiaowei is able to assume the form of a beautiful woman, but her true demonic nature becomes evident if she doesn't consume human hearts on a regular basis. In order for her to permanently become a human, something she ardently wishes to do, she must find someone who will freely offer his heart to her during a rare solar eclipse. Playing into this story arc is one dealing with a badly scarred woman, Princess Jing (Zhao Wei), a female warrior who actually rescues Xiaowei at one point (a rescue probably a trick propagated by Xiaowei herself in order to ingratiate herself to this warrior, whom she initially mistakes for being male). The intersection of these two lives then provides the bulk of the drama for the film's second act, as Xiaowei wants to become human and Princess Jing wants to become beautiful again so that she can live happily ever after with her bodyguard, Huo Xin (Chen Kun).
The Twilight Zone aspect takes a long time to play out but it stems from what seems to be a minor incident early in the film, when Xiaowei "reaches out and touches" someone, taking their heart. That fateful decision comes back to haunt her in a nice twist toward the end of the film. The central section is really a rather slow yet hypnotic dance between Xiaowei and Jing, and it features some spooky scary special effects when the two enter into a Faustian bargain with one another and change places. That aspect of the film may in fact be just a tad confusing if you don't pay close attention, for you must keep in mind that the actresses remain the same, even if the roles have switched.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection is at its core a sort of fairy tale, albeit one seen through the prism of Chinese culture. As such it has an intrinsically haunting quality, as well as a certain surreal edge that keeps things slightly off kilter much of the time. When a neighboring tribe invades Princess Jing's domain, for example, the warriors are almost like feral dogs, kept on leashes and snarling viciously at their enemies. "Little" moments like that help to develop not just the film's intrinsic folklore vocabulary, but the general sense that we're in an "alternate" universe where demons can indeed live side by side with humans.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection probably would have benefited from having been judiciously trimmed in its middle section. The film simply spends too much time rehashing the frankly seductive interplay between Xiaowei and Jing, with occasional tempestuous interruptions from Huo Xin, who ends up being entranced by Xiaowei as part of the demon's attempt to convince Jing to give up her heart. The inherent slowness of the film actually helps its hypnotic power, but it also weighs the film down with an unneeded heaviness which stalls the dramatic momentum, at least for a while. When we finally get to the denouement, when both the invasion and Xioawei and Jing's desires are all wrapped up into one huge battle, things suddenly explode into a whirling array of wire work and exceptional special effects. It's a wonderfully exciting finale, but it would have been even better had we gotten there a little sooner.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray, Video Quality
Painted Skin: The Resurrection is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. This Red One shot film is incredibly sharp and well detailed, with some absolutely sumptuous looking CGI interwoven exceptionally well into a generally gorgeously designed film. I typically am not a huge fan of the smooth texture of Red One shot features, but in this case it actually helps add to the dreamlike quality of the film. Some of the wide establishing shots are just a tad on the soft side (see the third and seventh screencaps accompanying this review for good examples), but close-ups reveal a wealth of fine object detail. Colors are very nicely variegated and well saturated, contrast is strong and consistent and no compression artifacts of any kind were noticed.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Painted Skin: The Resurrection's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Mandarin language mix is beautifully immersive, with a wealth of finely nuanced foley effects that really help create the otherworldly feeling that is so important to the success of this film. Right off the bat, when we get a great sound of ice cracking, a sound which resonates outward and fills the side and rear channels with a nice "ripple" effect. One of Xiaowei's demonic cohorts is a little bird demon, and the flitting of that creature also provides some fantastic panning opportunities throughout the film. As seems to be the case with Chinese language outings, some of the actors appear to have been post-looped or dubbed and occasionally there are some minor synch issues where lip movements do not quite match the sounds of the dialogue. Fidelity is very strong and dynamic range is also quite wide. The mix is very well prioritized and includes some extremely evocative music cues.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Painted Skin: The Resurrection is a haunting and often gorgeous film that features a compelling story, interesting characters and a really ravishing production design. That said, the film feels awfully padded, especially in its central section. A little judicious editing could have whittled this film down by a good fifteen to twenty minutes and delivered a much more streamlined and effective entertainment. But if you're patient, Painted Skin: The Resurrection does finally pay off with an appealing denouement. Those of us without multi-region players who haven't been able to see the first Painted Skin outing are at a bit of a loss with regard to all the elements of the back story, but all in all, the second film makes an extremely satisfying standalone experience. (Maybe Well Go USA can license that first film, perhaps even in its 3D version.) Though the supplementary features here are slim, the video and audio are outstanding, and this release comes Highly recommended.
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Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Painted Skin: The Resurrection - October 23, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Painted Skin: The Resurrection. This hugely successful Chinese feature is a fantasy laden fairy tale dealing with a fox demon attempting to become human. Painted Skin: The ...
• Painted Skin: The Resurrection Blu-ray - September 19, 2012
Independent distributors Well Go USA Entertainment have officially announced and detailed their upcoming release of director Wuershan's supernatural epic Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012), starring Chen Kun, Vicki Zhao Wei, and Zhou Xun. Street date is November ...
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