Saturday, August 4, 2012

Painted Skin: The Resurrection

I'm extremely excited for a kung fu movie coming soon, a supernatural romance called Painted Skin: The Resurrection.

It's actually a sequel to the original Painted Skin, which stars Donnie Yen, a huge star in Hong Kong, and the star of Iron Monkey, a 1990s kung fu film which remains one of my all-time favorites.

Painted Skin: The Resurrection has already premiered in China, where it won rave reviews and has already made $107M against a $19M budget.

One of the things I really love about Asian films is the stuff they skip. In Japan, anime skips literal character representation in preference for exaggeratedly large eyes and gigantic colorful hair, and will happily switch to a "super-distorted" drawing style mid-narrative in order to change mood or tone.

There's a similar disregard for realism in Chinese film, where a lot of scenes will be shot on soundstages rather than on location, and continuity takes a back seat to just about everything, and kung fu completely scrambles the distinction between elaborate dance and thrilling action. Realism is one of the major sources of expense in American film production, so the Chinese approach can bring budgets down, but it also imparts an air of theatricality and other-worldliness.

When done right, that other-worldly theatricality perfectly complements fantastical tales like Painted Skin: The Resurrection, a supernatural action romance in which a fox spirit uses magic to disguise herself as a human woman. (Fox spirits disguising themselves as human women are a staple of Chinese and Japanese folklore; we have some equivalents in the West.)