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Painted Skin: The Resurrection

North American Premiere
  • China
  • 2012
  • 131 mins
  • 35mm
  • Mandarin
  • English / Chinese (subtitles)

“Irresistible to the eyes... a cinematic trip, combining beautiful women, savage fights and glorious fantasy” — Andrew Urban, URBAN CINEFILE

Just under the surface of a lake of ice lies a figure of eerie beauty, the fox demon Xiaowei, imprisoned forever for her misdeeds. But she catches the eye of the mischievous bird demon Que’er who with a simple peck of her beak shatters the frozen prison and frees Xiaowei. To regain and maintain her strength and beauty, Xiaowei must feast on freshly excised human hearts. To become human, however, a warm and noble heart must be freely given to her by its owner. Rescued from a gang of evil raiders by a mysterious warrior in golden armour and a half-masked face, Xiaowei thinks she may have found what she is seeking. But that heart is Princess Jing’s, and within it burns her love for General Huo Xin — a love cursed by their different social classes and by a wound they share from the past. Que’er, meanwhile, has kept busy. There’s a demon hunter in the city, and he has caught her eye, and perhaps her heart too…

In mainland China, only TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON and the 3D re-release of TITANIC have topped the opening-week box office of PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION. It’s not hard to see why. A truly breathtaking tapestry of dark splendour, supernatural wonder, royal opulence and striking action, it is a fantastic tour de force from director Wuershan (THE BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN), painted in subtler tones than the black-and-white morality of most Chinese films of its type. The cast is excellent across the board — Feng Shaofeng is a laugh as the hapless would-be demon hunter Pang Lang — but the real dynamic is the one between the two main actresses, Zhou Xun (THE MESSAGE) and Zhao Wei (MULAN). The two join Zhang Ziyi and Xu Jinglei as the so-called Four Young Dan actresses of the new millennium — stars of international calibre — and bring quiet intensity to their respective roles. A feast for the eyes and the heart, PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION is a moment of true cinematic delight.

— Rupert Bottenberg