Sunday, September 6, 2015

White Haired Witch (live action movie), via Netflix

White Haired Witch is a Chinese wuxia fantasy movie that Wikipedia tells me is loosely based on a novel. I spotted it in Walmart a while back and almost bought it several times, because the cover art was so pretty and because I thought it might be a gorgeous fantasy romance. Thank goodness I never caved, because it would be on my “to sell or donate” pile now.

Warning: this post includes spoilers.

This movie was complicated and confusing. I took a few notes here and there, but I'm sure my summary will get details wrong. Anyway, Zhuo Yihang is the movie's hero. He lived in some kind of monastery (or martial arts school? I have no clue). After he was declared the new head of the community, he was sent to deliver a red pill to the emperor (or king? I forget which title was used). Along the way, he met and was intrigued by a beautiful nameless warrior woman.

The emperor's eunuch secretly withheld the red pill from the emperor, resulting in the emperor's death. Yihang was accused of killing him, but Yihang had already left and ended up in Fort Luna. Fort Luna stood between two warring countries, and one side's army had been trying to take it over for ages. While at Fort Luna, Yihang met the nameless lady again and gave her the name Lian Nishang. Although Nishang had promised her teacher that she'd never fall in love, she ended up falling in love with Yihang. Unfortunately, the two lovers were soon separated, as the forces that had been sent to capture Yihang found him.

This movie was a rushed mess. There were multiple murders, multiple people being framed, and I couldn't keep each side and their motivations straight. Nishang didn't become the titular “white haired witch” until at least halfway through.

Although I was disappointed at how quickly the story was moving and how little time was spent developing pretty much everything, I was willing to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. I figured I could at least sit back and enjoy the wire fu action scenes. Huang Xiaoming (Yihang) was charming, at least in the beginning, and Fan Bingbing (Nishang) was gorgeous.

I began to realize I wasn't going to like where this movie was going when Yihang and Nishang were separated. Yihang's imprisonment and torture (maybe? nothing was shown onscreen, not even the aftermath) led to him having to make some tough decisions, including possibly going back on his word to Nishang. He had promised that he'd come back to her, but instead he married another woman (who totally got the short end of the stick – her father sucked, but she didn't seem all that bad, and she probably didn't deserve to be coldly used by Yihang).

I spent the rest of the movie desperately trying to follow along and hoping that Yihang and Nishang would somehow be allowed to have a happy ending. OMG, they were not. I'm sure the screenwriters would disagree with me, seeing as how the ending was so disgustingly sappy I felt like gagging. However, I consider an ending where both the romantic leads die to be tragic, even if they died in each other's arms.

If you do choose to watch this, even though I just spoiled everything, make sure to watch past the credits. The movie's one tiny sliver of happiness happens at that point, when one character (sorry, not one of the romantic leads) is shown to still be alive. At least someone survived this mess.

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