The Bride with White Hair (1993)

Posted in Reviews by - January 18, 2013
The Bride with White Hair (1993)

Eclectic, dazzling and mystifying, the fantasy eroticism of The Bride with White Hair is enough to send even the harshest critic into a tailspin. Effortlessly cool and with spellbinding visuals, Peter Pao’s cinematography coupled with Ronny Yu’s fast-paced direction is guaranteed to make your eyes burst, and the sensitive story of love and loyalty, rivalry and trust, will make your heart bleed for our protagonists. All of which is played out in a demonic fury of electrifying gimmickry and martial arts action.

A Romeo and Juliet romance, Leslie Cheung plays Yi-hang, a reclusive warrior who resides atop a mountain and dictates our story through flashback. He talks of being a young boy, learning the swordsman’s craft, preparing to fulfil his rightful position at the head of the Chung Yuan group of eight leading clans. Age brings wisdom and Yi-hang decides to turn his back on his martial ways and live out the rest of his days in a secluded paradise with his new nameless love (Brigitte Lin).

As his childhood sweetheart, Lin plays a beautiful warrior with razor-sharp kung fu and a whip that can chop a man to pieces. The two become lovers, spinning slow-mo in an underground whirlpool, where Yi-hang christens her with the name Lien Ni-chang. They belong to different sects, of course, so a proverbial spanner is thrown in the works.

Ni-chang was raised by wolves (no, really), looked upon as a witch, belonging to a strange evil cult masterminded by Chiu Wu-shuang – a back-to-back Siamese twin whose sexual longings for Ni-chang are sneered upon by his conjoined sister. The bizarre double act cause an inevitable rift between the lovers. Vengeful toward Yi-hang for loving Ni-chang, Chiu launches an all out massacre on the masters of Chang Yuan, killing Yi-hang’s sifu in the process. When Ni-chang sacrifices herself for the common cause, she turns into a symbolic ghost of her former self, with extendable white hair to grapple with her victims.

It sounds mad, but Brigitte Lin somehow makes it believable; her enchanting performance drives the movie, looking truly special in her ghostly white robe and grey locks. The fantasy elements (particularly in the finale) seem reminiscent of A Chinese Ghost Story (to draw an obvious comparison), but this is a much darker and powerful fable, and certainly one of the best films to come out of Hong Kong.

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