The Bride with White Hair (Bai fa mo nu zhuan)
the bride with white hair | bai fa mo nu zhuan | ronny yu | kee-to lam | david wu | brigitte lin | leslie cheung | francis ng | fantasy | adventure | action | romance | curse | hong kong | martial arts
Film: The Bride with White Hair (Bai fa mo nu zhuan)
Director: Ronny Yu
Writer: Kee-To Lam, David Wu and Ronny Yu
Starring: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung and Francis Ng
This film begins with a man who is kneeling on an icy outcropping of rock; he is played by Leslie Cheung. A group of soldiers is there to collect a rare flower that is supposed to bloom soon. This flower is supposed to make someone live forever. They want to collect it to give to their chief and make him live forever. Cheung tells them that the flower is not for them and they get into a sword fight, with Cheung killing all of them.
We then see what happened in the past and leads us to this. We see Cheung as he was a boy. He learned from a great master and was taught the best form of fighting. We see what he can do and he actually cuts up a bunch of flower blossoms. He is being taught for greatness and groomed to be a leader.
Cheung is now a young man. He’s next in line to be the Joint Chief of a union of 8 clans, but doesn’t want to take it over. He is the best warrior in the clan and we see that he has beat up all of the other warriors for trying to do different things that are immoral. He is then punished for doing this by going to a local temple to pray. There we see a woman who is also a warrior and is in love with Cheung. She is played by Kit Ying Lam. He is also interested in her as well.
There is an evil cult in the area and they are held up at a temple. We see that they are performing a ceremony. The cult is led by Francis Ng and Elaine Lui, who are brother and sister. Ng is in love with Brigitte Lin, who is the best warrior in the cult, but he doesn’t realize that she doesn’t feel anything back for him. He believes he can convince her while Lui mocks him for this.
It is decided by the Joint Chief that they will attack the evil cult to put an end to them. Cheung is made the leader of this army, but he doesn’t want it. He suggests that Lam should be the commander, but it is told that Cheung will lead and Lam will be his second in command. He goes off and spies on a Lin. She catches him and asks about what he is doing there. They talk a little and part ways. He is smitten.
This evil cult ambushes the joint clans and is fought off by Cheung and the rest of them. Cheung and Lin end up together where she stays and end up making love. They also express their undying love for each other. She asks him if he’d still love her if she was old and had white hair. He confirmed he would, bringing up the flower that would make her live forever. They decide to run away together.
Their plan doesn’t go as it should though. Lin goes back to Ng and Lui, where we learn they are conjoined twins. They used to live with the Joint Clans, but they were banished. This is why they created the evil cult. Ng won’t let Lin leave and goes to make love to her. Lui is the one that points out that she is no longer a virgin. This angers him and he uses his powers to punish her. She is allowed to leave, but she will do so a commoner, having taken a name other than Wolf Girl.
To make matters worse, Cheung returns to the Joint Clans to see they were ambushed. Everyone including the chief has been killed. There is one person still alive, but barely. He is played by King-Kei Cheng. He reveals that it was Lin who attacked them. This makes Cheung question everything and Lam isn’t too happy either.
Did she really lead this attack or is there some kind of magic that is happening here? Is Ng and Lui behind this? What has happened to Lin? Can she be saved or is she cursed after becoming the bride with white hair?
I came in not knowing much about this film, but it was recommended to me to view. This film is pretty visually stunning, even being from the early 1990s. This film has the same feel as ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ that would come out some time after this one. This film has sword play and martial arts, which I really liked. This film has quite a bit of romance and we even have the angle of star-crossed lovers being on different sides of a war, but still falling for each other. It is quite tragic how it plays out and I feel for Cheung at the end of this one as well.
This film did have some issues for me though. The first issue I had was the film moves very fast. It is hard to figure out what is going on, because as you are processing what is happening, the film has already moved on to the next part. I’m wondering how much of this was me not understanding the language and needing to read the subtitles to keep up and try to piece together what is happening. A perk of this though, is the film doesn’t ever really drag, even during the romance and the stars confessing their love, so that is a positive. I felt this film didn’t do a good enough job at introducing all of the characters, who they were and how they fit into the story. Heck, I didn’t even realize that Cheung was the main actor in the beginning until about the middle of the film. I also wasn’t a fan of all the flying and moving in unrealistic ways that films of this genre tend to have. This is my issue with the genre, not necessary this film itself.
Now with that said, I would recommend this film if you are into the Hong Kong/Chinese martial arts films. This film is a blend of fantasy, action, romance and horror, which seems like a lot going on, but it works. I felt that the acting was good enough and the story is a tragic love story. I felt the film could have done better in introducing the characters and fleshing out the story more as it moves a little too fast. I will warn you that this film is in Cantonese, so I had to watch it with subtitles on. I personally was not a huge fan of this film, but I do believe this film is solid for the genre.
My Rating: 6 out of 10