|Painted Skin: The Resurrection (2012)|
|Writers:||Ran Ping and Ran Jia’nan|
|Starring:||Chen Kun, Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun, and Yang Mi|
As the title would suggest, Painted Skin: The Resurrection is a sequel to the 2008 film Painted Skin. Featuring many of the returning players, this sequel does its best to stand out on its own. Even without the star power of Donnie Yen, the movie still manages to feel like a pretty big deal. Apparently many others felt the same way, because The Resurrection broke records during its opening run within mainland China and it stands out as one of the highest grossing films in Chinese history. This sounds like hyperbole, but it is actually true, which makes it all the more impressive that Well Go USA would get distribution rights to the film so quickly. While Painted Skin is far from a masterpiece, it is understandable how such a broad audience could be attracted to the film.
Despite being a movie filled with caricatures and genre types, there are still some very fun ideas at play in the movie. Some of the feats that are on display help the movie stand out, and although they might seem ridiculous from an objective standpoint, they do manage to work. In our introduction to General Huo Xin, he is shown taking on a magnificent dare from his fellow soldiers. His cohorts take an empty wine jug and place only a coin inside of it before launching it in the air. Huo Xin, with his eyes closed, fires an arrow directly into the air – shattering the jug and piercing the coin hidden inside. Such feats of strength are usually reserved for ridiculous action movies, and that’s precisely why it works to such great effect here. The environment found in Painted Skin seems entirely accepting of such outrageousness too, because that is how this movie manages to thrive. This outlandish material is also why the poor CGI within the movie becomes slightly more forgivable. By not having a completely serious tone, it is a lot easier to look past some of the more cartoonish special effects found in the film. Not that the CGI found in The Resurrection is the worst you’ll find in contemporary Chinese cinema, not by a longshot, but there is one particular scene revolving around a CG bear that could very well be mentioned in competition.
Painted Skin: The Resurrection doesn’t offer a great deal of completely original content, this I must admit. A mix of the ever faithful “90s-era Hong Kong supernatural” style that audiences may be familiar with, along with the intense tone of contemporary Chinese epics, The Resurrection doesn’t break ground in any single area, but it does manage to entertain while making a few statements. Seemingly influenced by Western films, there are points in The Resurrection that seem as if they would be more at home in the Underworld franchise than perhaps The Bride With White Hair. The Tian Liang army at first seem to be inspired by the portrayal of the Persian warriors found in Zack Snyder’s 300, but by the close of the film they seem to better resemble the army of the dead found in Army of Darkness. The two female ghosts/demons within the film, played by Zhou Xun and Yang Mi, do seem to be much more reminiscent of traditional Chinese ghost stories, but even they seem a little more “out there” than I am accustomed to. Partly angelic, partly demonic, the movie delivers some intriguing concepts via these characters and the assorted rules that dictate everything they are capable of.