Painted Skin: The Resurrection 畫皮II (2012) – China [Australian Premiere]
@ China Lion Screening
Review by: Andrew Chan (Neo) FCCA
Review Date: 3 July 2012
“Painted Skin: The Resurrection” is a perfect example of pure guilty pleasure, mixed within a dream of wonderfully crafted beauties in Zhou Xun, Zhao Wei and Mini Yang…
Seriously, who can possibly resist the temptation of the flawless and seductive display from the ever-wonderful Zhou Xun, a much improved performance from Zhao Wei (after her dismal role in last year’s “Mulan”) and of course the insanely cute portrayal by Mini Yang. Like the 2008 prequel, “Painted Skin”, to truly embrace the experience, the audience needs to slip into the film like a dream and suspend all beliefs. The more you escape from reality and believe into the world of “Painted Skin: The Resurrection”, the more you will end up enjoying the experience. It is one of those special films that require the audience to just go with the flow, enjoy the scenery, the on-screen beauties on display, over the top action sequences, some truly wonderful acting and along with the stunning bright visuals on display.
Zhou Xun is simply flawless in her display as the “spirit” that wants to be more human than human. However, while this film shares the same issue as Ridley Scott’s classic “Bladerunner”, the issue of wanting to be more human is only given a superficial flick of a dice. Still, Zhou is able to carry the film and the manner in which she seductively graces the screen is nothing short of amazing. In particular her noticeable dance to seduce the General (played by Chen Kun) is certainly a highlight. It should also be noted that when the Zhou is required to switch roles with Zhao Wei, it is Zhou who is able to seamlessly step into the shoes of the princess character. It’s been a while since Zhou’s winning performance in “Perhaps Love”, and while she may not win this year, another nomination is only just around the corner.
In terms of Zhao Wei, one must say that she gets better with age. This does not mean that she is aging well in terms of beauty, but rather the improvement comes in the form of her acting. After the disappointing “Mulan” where the fault lies more in the director and the script, rather than her ability in question, Zhao stands shoulder to shoulder in the role of a princess who values beauty and exterior, over the need of being a human. Her character is a direct contrast to Zhou Xun and she performs particularly well until the two switches bodies. There is a sadness in her eyes that allows the audience to always sympathize with her. It is a natural ability that cannot be taught and in many ways, she was always like this. Think back to “Shaolin Soccer” days, the tears in her eyes when she made the noodles still stands firmly on the back of my mind. While she did not exceed Zhou in terms of acting, there is no doubt that Zhao is finally coming of age.
After first catching my eye in “All’s Well, Ends Well 2012” as the swimsuit babe, tackling a relatively difficult and engaging role in “Love in the Buff” and then meeting her in person at the same movie premiere, it is unreservedly that Mini Yang is the latest “it” girl to win my heart. What impressed me in this role is how versatile Yang is. Yang is constantly cute and perhaps the one character in the film that can link more to reality at a human level. Her giggles, laughs, cute-eyed look and comic timing is all at show here. While on surface, it seems like an easy role to play, it should not be underestimated, as it is a kind of role that can so easily go the route of being outright annoying and a waste of space. Instead Yang is able to glue the audience to the screen and turn her small role into a scene stealing performance. Putting aside my personal bias, Yang is still an actress to watch for years to come.
With the trio of actresses taking center stage, the male counterparts are given lesser roles. Still, as general, Chen Kun (also in the original “Painted Skin”) is adequate if not stunning. In particular in the scene when the princess departs him, the sadness and regret in his eyes is certainly of note. While Feng Shaofeng (“White Vengeance”) is filled with boyish good looks and his chemistry with Mini Yang carries the film in another angle. Perhaps the weakest link of the film comes in the form of Taiwanese singer Fei Xiang (born Kris Phillips) as villain, which in many ways seems more laughable than menacing.
It must be said that one cannot stop being disappointed in the lack of a need for 3D or perhaps for the film not making most of the technology on hand. While “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” is beautiful to look at and at times the bright contrast and use of colours in the scenery and backdrop is breathtaking to endure. On the other hand, in the battle scene where the shooting of thousands of arrows is disappointing to say the least, despite obviously taking a page out of Zhang Yimou’s infamous “Hero” scene. While Yimou did not have the same technology back in 2002, “Skin” fails to stretch the 3D technology and the result lacks the outcome of Yimou’s earlier work. The film always lacks the vital ingredient of fight sequences, this may be due to the departure of Donnie Yen, but for the few fights that is included, almost all of them are well-choreographed. However, sometimes, less is not more, when the film could have done with at least a few more elaborated staged fights.
All in all, “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” is easily a crowd pleaser and in many ways more of the same as the 2008’s original. What I really enjoy about these kinds of fantasy films are the manner in which it allows you to escape into another world. Imagine having a dream which compose of the seductiveness of Zhou Xun, the sympathetic looks of Zhao Wei and the cute-eyed Mini Yang. For me, it is more like a dream come true. Still, “Skin” is by no means a perfect movie and as with most dreams there are numerous plot holes, flaws and unrealistic moments, but if one is able to totally suspend your beliefs, then one can truly enjoy the experience. At the end of the day, sometimes when watching a film like “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” it is all about entertainment and for me, just thinking of the trio of actresses, I am already finding it hard to resist. Most certainly a dream-like experience… (Neo, 2012)
Neo rates it 8/10