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Bai she zhuan (1962)

7.1
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Huangmeixi tragic opera in which Bai Suzhen, and her younger sister, Qingqing are centuries old snake spirits who have trained to take on human form for a thousand years. Suzhen takes the ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Lin Dai ...
Lei Zhao ...
Xu Xian (as Lei Chao)
Margaret Tu Chuan ...
Qingqing (as Tu Chuan)
Chih-Ching Yang ...
Monk Fahai (as Yang Chi-ching)
Kuang-Chao Yu ...
Venerable Old Man
Yunzhong Li ...
Guo Wei (as Li Yun-chung)
Chang-hang Kwan
Sung-Hao Hsu
Jen-Chieh Liu
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Carrie Ku Mei ...
(singing voice)
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Storyline

Huangmeixi tragic opera in which Bai Suzhen, and her younger sister, Qingqing are centuries old snake spirits who have trained to take on human form for a thousand years. Suzhen takes the form of a young doctor and falls for Mr. Xu, a poor pharmacist who rescued her beaten snake form in a previous incarnation, and Qinqing her handmaiden and matchmaker. Although the medicine Suzhen makes has saved countless people, many monks insist that they are snakes and inherently evil, and try to make Xian escape them and become a monk himself. When he learns the truth with the posions from the Dragon Boat festival, he is literally scared to death. Suzhen, though pregnant, must then fly to the celestial mountains and battle for the flower that can restore him to life. Written by Scott Andrew Hutchins <scottandrewhutchins@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

snake | monk | pharmacist | opera | festival | See more »


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Details

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Release Date:

2 October 1962 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

Madame White Snake  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Connections

Version of The Emperor and the White Snake (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Camp classic, a great intro to Linda Dai
22 February 2011 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

This is a classic Chinese tale that has been transformed into a Huangmei Opera, a popular style of Chinese opera and stars Hong Kong beloved actress Linda Dai.

The story is a bout two sisters who are centuries old snake spirits who take on human form to find the man that saved White Snake's life. In doing so, Bai Suzhen (Dai) has to romantically involve herself with the man, while maintaining her human form and never letting him know of her true identity. But there are those who know her properly, including a Taoist Priest and a nasty monk and try to warn him, but with her sister they have powers to help the situation. During a festival, her husband insists she drink some potent wine that turns her back into snake, killing him with shock. Only one thing can save him, a special flower, but will the animal spirits let her take it? The film is for the most part sung and the musical style is both fun and enjoyable and at times wonderfully camp. The whole Huangmei style is wonderful, with it's plethora of hand gestures and movements, as well as an array of great eye and facial expressions. It makes for a very light and easy to follow story, even if it does have elements of tragedy throughout. Made in the 1960's, it looks beautiful, with it's colour palate, costumes and sets. Some nifty special effects are also used throughout, some better than others and towards the end there is a truly excellent fight sequence between Bai and the other spirits.

The film started to drag towards the end, but I realised as it drew near it's conclusion that I was smiling and had been for most of the film, such was the enjoyment and part of that was due to the occasional singing along from one audience member, of which was made up of older Chinese people, no doubt enjoying the chance to watch one of the many films that Linda Dai starred in before her tragic death when she was only 29. This is a great introduction both to her and to the world of Huangmei, which many of her films are made in.

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