Contributed by: William Page
Painted Skin II, a sequel to Gordan Chan’s 2008’s Painted Skin, is a Chinese film directed by Wuershan which has become China’s highest grossing local film of all time and for good reason. It’s a lavish and in many ways stunning Chinese folklore epic about demons and man’s susceptibility to their manipulation.
After being freed from a sentence of 500 years of captivity in ice for saving a mortal man (as seen in the original Painted Skin), a female fox demon (played by Zhaou Xun) who feeds on the hearts of men meets a mysterious partly veiled princess (played by Zhao Wei) who pines for the bodyguard who failed to protect her many years before. The bodyguard has thrown himself into his duties and refuses to violate rigid class codes by even contemplating marrying the princess, which leads the demon to offer the princess a deal with catastrophic consequences. Meanwhile, a queen from another kingdom is preparing to wage war on the princess for reneging on an arranged marriage with her brother. The film also has an amusing subplot revolving around a quirky bird demon played by Yang Mi and a wacky demon hunter who fall in love.
With impressive fight scenes, strong performances and a script which gets better as the film progresses. The film starts relatively slowly but gradually picks up pace as the story, which is essentially a love story, weaves to its conclusion.
Painted Skin II was funded by China’s largest private media company, the Huayi Brothers, and its financial success is likely to result in more money being poured into similar themed epic Chinese films. Whether these films will achieve significant success outside their strong domestic market remains unclear but the film’s distinct visuals, strong story and epic action pieces certainly bode well for the continued growth and development of the Chinese film industry.