Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 14th, 2015
BluRay released: March 10th, 2015
Approximate running time: 104 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Mandarin, Dolby Digital Stereo Mandarin
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: The Ming Dynasty finds itself on verge of a war with the Manchurians. And to further complicate matters, the imperial court for the Ming Dynasty has been infiltrated by traitors that are secretly working for the Manchurians. Wanting to gain an advantage for the impending one of these traitors frame the murder of one of the Ming generals on Jade Raksha, the leader of a rebel clan that takes on those who oppress others.
White Haired Witch is yet another adaption of Liang Yusheng’s wuxia novel titled ‘Baifa Monü Zhuan’ and it’s literal English translation of it title is ‘Story of the White Haired Demoness’. Previous film adaptions include Story of the White-haired Demon Girl (1959), White Hair Devil Lady (1980) and The Bride with White Hair and its squeal The Bride with White Hair 2, both were released in 1993.
Film adaptions can be a tricky and far too often they fall into two categories, either you love them or loathe them. And very rarely are there those that lay somewhere in the middle and eventually change your opinion somewhere down the road.
From an adaption stand point White Haired Witch is a film that tries to cover too much territory too quickly. Everything about this films narrative feels rushed as characters are rarely given a moment to let their personalities shine. And when it comes to back-story only the very basics are laid out in regards to this film’s protagonist and the other key players in this film’s narrative. Unfortunately this is the type of story that demands more than just one hundred and four minutes to tell its story. And making this film a full blown epic that runs three hours in length or at least making this a two part like the 1993 adaption would have greatly enhanced this adaption. Fortunately this film end’s with an open ended finale that leaves the possibility that a sequel may be a possibility.
If there is one thing that can be said about this adaption, is that film a visual stand point it does not disappoint. And when it comes to the fight sequences they are well executed and they also do a wonderful job in regards to keeping everything in the realm of fantasy. With that being said, there is one area of this film that misses more then it hits the mark and that are the special effects work with often draws attention to itself.
From a performance stand point the cast range from adequate to good. With this film’s standout performance coming from Xiaoming Huang (Eastern Bandits, The Guillotines) in the role of Zhuo Yihang, the man who Lian Nishang aka the White Haired Witch falls in love with. Cast in the role of Lian Nishang is Bingbing Fan (Bodyguards and Assassins, My Way) and despite her character is the main attraction, it is a woefully undeveloped role that at times feels like it is not much more than for servicing eye candy. It is not until the film’s finale act when her character transforms into the White Haired Witch that we finally get to see what she is capable of as an actress.
White Haired Witch comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Like the majority of period based action films this film has had a lot of post-production done to achieve a certain visual look and this transfer does a superb job retaining that intended look. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression. Also it should be noted that during more CGI heavy moments that the image is not as crisp as it is for the bulk of the film.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Mandarin and a Dolby Digital Stereo mix in Mandarin. The DTS-HD 5.1 mix sounds excellent, Dialog comes through with crystal clarity, and everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too, especially when it comes to action heavy moments. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for a trailer for the film and six ‘Making of’ segments – Huang Xiaoming, Jianghu Heroes, Arrival of the Witch, Nirvana After 100 Rebirths, Wudang Swordsman and The Debut. These segments total about twenty two minutes – in Chinese with English subtitles. Content wise the cast & crew discuss their role in making the film, the characters that appear in the film, over coming the injury of a main cast member and their thoughts in the film overall. Also included with this release are trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall White Haired Witch gets a first rate release from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.