In the twilight of the Ming Dynasty, the Imperial court is plagued by corruption as tyrants rule over the land. With the Manchurians preying on a weakened empire, war is imminent. To save the victims from their suffering, sorceress Jade Raksha fights the soldiers that oppress people for their own gain. As payback, local government officials decide to pin the murder of Governor Zhuo Zhonglian on Jade, turning her and the members of her cult into wanted fugitives for a crime they didn't commit.Written by
An uninspiring adaptation of a classic which is bogged down by the lack of chemistry between its leads
Hong Kong movie director, producer and screenwriter Jacob Cheung probably does not believe in churning out productions like a factory line, considering his sparse filmography. However, whenever the 54 year old filmmaker directs a movie, it is something we'd enjoy. His credits include A Battle of Wits (2006), which was nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Golden Bauhinia Awards and Beyond the Sunset (1989), which was a nominee at the 9th Hong Kong Film Awards. Of course, there is the much loved Cageman (1992), which showcased the director's ability to translate human relationships and emotions on the big screen. Cheung's last work was Ticket in 2007, and seven years later, we were very much looking forward to his latest work.
But alas, what a letdown and regrettably, a laughable piece of CGIladen movie it is. Maybe this comes with the fact that it is yet another remake of adaptation of Liang Yusheng's classic fantasy novel The Story Of The White Haired Demoness (1957), about a star-crossed love story between a witch-like woman and martial arts expert Zhuo Yihang.
The version we are all familiar with is Ronny Yu's 1993 movie The Bride With White Hair, starring Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia and the late Leslie Cheung, which is widely considered a classic of the genre. Here, it is an ironically too messy and overstuffed piece of work that lost our interest 30 minutes or so into the movie.
For the uninitiated, the 104 minute movie tells the story of a witch- like woman known as the Jade Raksha (Fan Bingbing) who becomes a wanted criminal after getting framed for the murder of a prominent government official. At the same time, a young man known as Zhuo Yihang (Huang Xiaoming) is framed for the murder of the emperor. The two fugitives meet by chance and fall in love, but when Jade Raksha becomes a prime suspect who is responsible for the murder of Yihang's beloved grandfather, can there still be a happy ending?
There are countless scenes boasting expensive CGIeffects, but they are not excuses for the evident lack of chemistry between leads, who despite putting in lots of effort to emote individually, just do not manage to stir any emotions with their supposedly tragic romantic relationship. This is an obvious case of how the industry hopes to bank in on the stars' commanding power in Mainland Chinato earn some quick bucks.
It doesn't help that there are several complex palace intrigue and politicking side plots which serve nothing but confuse and dilute the interest levels of viewers. Nope, thefootnotes of character names and relationships superimposed on the side of the screendo not help.The uninspiring screenplay includes the intriguing sub-plot of apolitical marriage of convenience between the male protagonist and the beautiful daughter of a scheming eunuch, amidst other uninteresting story lines. They are jam packed into one movie here, and bythe time the moviereturns to the romantic couple, we can't be bothered to find out about their fate. Even playing Leslie Cheung's heartfelt end credit song doesn't help anymore.
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