Kung Fu Fridays: The Bride with White Hair
Released in 1993 and directed by Ronny Lu, The Bride with White Hair is one of the more original Kung Fu films I’ve ever seen. The story here is the main focus and it is a hell of a story. Ultimately, we are treated to a love story, ill-fated at that, wrapped up in fantasy swordplay and martial arts. The performances from the leads, Bridgette Lin as Lien Ni-Chang and Leslie Cheung as Zhuo Yi-Hang, are absolutely stellar. The action is both beautiful and brutal. They deftness of the direction, really editing I suppose, jumping back and forth between the love story at the heart of the picture and the fantasy/action aspects is truly remarkable. If you have never seen this film before, you are in for a treat.
The story of the Bride with White Hair is the central focus of my love for it. The movie plays out in flashback and has a gripping as hell opening. We first meet Zhuo on top of a mountain, waiting to pick a rose rumored to be able to cure any illness. This rose blooms every twenty years or so and we are not told why Zhuo needs it. All we know is that he has been waiting on this mountaintop for ten years and that he is desperately heartbroken. The movie then jumps back to a time of hope for Zhuo as he is one of the top swordsmen of the Wu Tang sect and is being groomed to lead the fight against an evil cult trying to make their way into China. It is at this point that I suppose I should point out that this film is a bit… weird. There is a certain amount of camp that comes along with the fantasy genre and this movie has more than its fair share of it. Our heroine, I mean I say heroine,depending on your viewpoint she’s a paragon of goodliness or an asshole, is an orphan raised by wolves and adopted by an evil, demonic witch that also happens to be a male/female conjoined twin and also happens to be the leader, (leaders?), of said evil cult named Ji Wushuang. And they are kind of magic. Like teleport around and get up to shenanigans magic.
Anyway, back to the story. Zhuo leads the fight against the cult and ends up meeting Lien, the Bride, in battle. Their battle is short lived however as they fall in love and decide to leave it all behind to be together. What follows are some, for the genre at least, racy love scenes that are borderline erotica. Upon leaving the cult, Lein and Zhuo travel back only to find all of Zhuo’s friends and contemporaries murdered. The remaining members of the coalition blame Lien forcing the two lovers to fight. It is at this point that we finally see the Bride with White Hair as Lien transforms into a ruthless killing machine with, wait for it………………, white hair. (kinda like a fucked up Super Saiyan) She destroys everyone except Zhuo. Literally out of nowhere, magic remember?, Ji Wushuang shows up and reveals that she, they?, actually killed the members of the coalition. Zhuo and Lien once again team up to take down Wushuang in an over the top, bloody as hell fight scene. Where this flick takes on an almost, dare I say, Shakespearean level of drama is after the final fight where we are expecting the two lovers to reunite and live happily ever after. Instead, Lien tells Zhuo that she will never forgive him for his betrayal and walks away. It hurts so hard and is played beautifully. We now know why Zhuo has been on this mountaintop for ten years waiting for a once every twenty years flower. He wants to heal his lovers broken heart.
Your enjoyment of this film will rest solely on your ability to suspend disbelief and go with the story. If you can, you will be justly rewarded. It is well worth your time to check it out. Hit the trailer below first and then hit Amazon to grab yourself a copy.