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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Pigment of your imagination

It's going to be hard getting under Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection, especially when you're almost blinded by the flashy special effects that overshadow all the good things about this movie.
The Business Times - July 6, 2012
By: Dylan Tan
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Pigment of your imagination Skin deep: Zhao Wei (far left) and Zhou Xun return to Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection but only Zhou reprises her role as the fox demon Xiao Wei. But Inner Mongolian director Wu Ershan goes over the top with a wizard played by Fei Xiang who looks more lik

IT'S going to be hard getting under Painted Skin 2: The Resurrection, especially when you're almost blinded by the flashy special effects that overshadow all the good things about this movie.

It's a pity, because the sequel to Gordon Chan's commercially successful 2008 original has enough going for it - capable cast, decent storyline and eye-catching cinematography - without the need for all that distracting (and sometimes cheesy) CGI.

For what must be purely commercial reasons, the mainland cast of Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun and Chen Xun all return, even though only Zhou reprises her role as the fox demon Xiao Wei. The plot is a standalone one as well but screenwriters Ran Ping and Ran Jianan have somehow managed to weave all three characters into a love triangle, just like the first film.

This time, Zhao and Chen play Princess Jing and General Huo Xin respectively, teenage sweethearts who are separated after a bear attack leaves both scarred - her, physically and him, emotionally. Ashamed of his inability to prevent the incident from happening, Huo can no longer bring himself to look Jing in the eye and spurns all her advances.

When she catches Xiao seducing Huo and him falling for it, Jing realises beauty is only skin deep and both women strike a deal - they will switch appearances in exchange for Jing giving Xiao her heart. That way, the former can finally get Huo to love her again while the latter will get what she needs for her to complete her transformation into a human being.

That's just the tip of a over-written plot that also includes a less emotionally draining and more youthful courtship between a bird spirit (an impressive Mini Yang who surely deserves a bit more screen time) and a fake demon catcher (William Feng) that's played mainly for comic relief; as well as a back story about a barbarian tribe that comes looking for revenge when Jing fails to keep her promise to marry their prince.

All that leaves Inner Mongolian director Wu Ershan with plenty of opportunities to get creative with the set pieces. When the visual flair works, it's pure eye candy; like the myriad colours in Jing and Xiao's costumes captured in full billowing glory, a la Zhang Yimou's Hero.

More often than not, Wu cannot resist going over the top - something Tsui Hark is often guilty of. Even for a period fantasy drama, Kris Phillips' (aka Fei Xiang's) wizard character looks ridiculously out of place with his all-black leather get-up, tattoo and shaven head leaving him resembling Rob Halford from glam-metal pioneers Judas Priest.

The result is an overly long film with many distractions to contend with as Wu obsessed over the set designs, costumes and CGI instead of getting to the heart of this tender, can-true-love-conquer-all story.

Superficially slick but entertaining on the whole, Painted Skin 2 could nonetheless do with a bit of a makeover of its own.

Rating: C+

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