Blu-ray Review: PAINTED SKIN: THE RESURRECTION (Well Go USA)

J Hurtado, Contributing Writer
Wuershan's romantic fantasy epic, Painted Skin: The Resurrection is ambitious, I have to give it that. Apart from being a bit overlong and repetitive, it's really pretty enjoyable as well. I think that if it has any major obstacles to overcome it is the expectation that many westerners will have that this is a big action film, when that couldn't be further from the truth. This film is more of a straight forward romance with a fantasy backdrop as opposed to a sweeping fantasy epic with romantic inclinations, and I think it works for the most part.

According to the opening voiceover a fox demon who has been imprisoned in ice has escaped and is determined to find a human's body to possess so as to attain mortal life with all of its pains and pleasures. In order to do this, the fox demon, Xiaowei (Zhou Xun), cons her way into a royal court alongside a heartbroken princess who yearns for the touch of her private bodyguard. Princess Jing (Zhao Wei) was gruesomely disfigured during in a bear attack a decade earlier and her life was only spared at the hands of her courageous General (Kun Chen) who slayed the bear and brought Jing home. While the princess pines over her general, he feels responsible for her disfigurement and tries to distance himself even though he feels the same pangs of lust in his loins that she does. Both are manipulated by Xiaowei and neither will ever be the same.

I had been lead to believe that there would be a lot of action in the film based upon the marketing, both foreign and domestic, however, that is really not the case. The film is a weepy melodrama with lots of treachery, demonic possession, fantasy set pieces, and longing looks. However, I'm okay with that, I really enjoy melodrama, and this film hits a sweet spot for me that few films do. The action, when it comes, is very solid, though most of it looks like dancing rather than brutal fighting. But it's the story that kept me engaged. These characters are able to express their dissatisfaction and pathos very well, and as such, their betrayal is ours, and I really got into it.

Don't get me wrong, the film is a bit clumsy in the amount of exposition needed to make it work. Painted Skin: The Resurrection is 131 minutes long, but by my count there's probably only about 115 minutes of actual footage. That's a lot of flashback. What that tells me is that the filmmakers don't trust their audiences to make connections within the narrative, and if that's the case, it's a shortcoming of the film, not the audience. I'm something of a runtime Nazi, though, so it may not bother too many people.

One thing is clear, Painted Skin: The Resurrection is a gorgeous piece of work, and the film's art direction is really fantastic. Definitely worth checking out.

The Disc:

Well Go USA makes my job easy once again with their spotless, gorgeous Blu-ray of this heavily art-directed film. Painted Skin: The Resurrection looks and sounds amazing, I have no complaints. The image is fantastic with bold colors and wonderful fine detail and grain-feel (even though the film was shot on RED). The DTS-HD MA audio track is wonderfully immersive and really adds that extra oomph that turns this from a film to watch into an experience.

The extras on the disc sound rather unimpressive. If you've reviewed as many discs as I have "Making Of Featurette" is not very promising. Usually, even with Well Go, it means we'll get something like 12-20 minutes of EPL material that is really uninteresting. However, in this case the making of includes numerous vignettes each focusing on different parts of the production and totaling out around an hour. This is definitely above average in that regard, and quite welcome in this case as the film's look is quite stunning, and seeing a small bit of how it was accomplished was very interesting.

If you're looking for an action epic, you might want to keep looking, but if a romantic fantasy with action interludes sounds fun, definitely check out Painted Skin: The Resurrection
Special Features:
  • - Making of Painted Skin: The Resurrection Featurette
    - Trailer
Around the Internet:
  • PFerrari

    It is somewhat disappointing to learn that this release is not the 3D version. The film's theatrical release was only in 3D for the mainland Chinese market; some other Asian markets had both the 2D and 3D versions to choose from. Hong Kong friends report that the 3D was sketchy and the 2D version offered the superior visual experience, or at least that was the version moviegoers preferred. This probably explains why PSII was not available to non-Asian territories in its 3D iteration, even though quality 3D screens were available (especially here in LA, where the film played in the newish AMC theatre complex in Monterey Park, as well as a recent UCLA film festival, where it was "erroneously" billed as the "LA premier"---technically true but misleading since it had already played the AMC a few miles outside the LA city limits proper. This same festival played the restored/remastered 3D version of Monkey King: Chaos in Heaven.). Perhaps there will be an import release of the now-rare 3D version for completists like myself.

  • Ard Vijn

    I bought the Hong Kong BluRay which has both the 3D version and the 2D version on it.

  • PFerrari

    Good to know! Thanks.

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