It’s hard to say what “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” is actually about. It’s not so much a story as it is an experience of different visual themes. The first and foremost of which is Love. This is mostly a love story steeped in epic supernatural visuals. When the story begins, Fox demon (exactly how it sounds but in human form), Xiaowei (Zhou Xun) breaks free of her centuries long encasement in a frozen lake. She is beautiful however she can only maintain her youthful splendor by devouring human hearts. That is the rub. Soon after she is free from the ice by a bird pecking at it, she is wandering through vast landscapes where there are no human hearts to feed off of. All the while a wave of ice cold air is after her, trying to capture her once again. Near death, she is saved by a stranger, who Xiaowei claims to have a powerfully warm heart, which is seemingly true as the ice cannot harm her when she is in the stranger’s presence. The stranger is revealed as Princess Jing (Zhao Wei), a warrior out looking for her lost love and former guardian, Huo Xin (Chen Kun). This is where several stories begin to intersect. Xiaowei becomes Jing’s helper in her kingdom and slowly over time manipulates the princess to want to trade her demon soul for a human soul.
The stories can become confusing, especially when the body/ soul swapping starts happening. Princess Jing is intrigued in swapping as her face is horrifically scarred on one side due to a past incident with an extremely large (and extremely silly looking CGI bear). She wears a gold mask on half her face to hide them. She longs for her long last love but fears he will not love her because of her disfigurement. The fox demon manipulates her into thinking that only beauty will get him back. So she convinces the princess to swap souls so she can inhibit a beauty human body again. However, she forgets to leave out the detail of needing to devour human hearts to stay beautiful.
That is the main focus of the story. There’s a lot to take in. It is a sequel to 2008’s “Painted Skin”. There are a few connections but “Resurrection” also works nicely as a standalone film. The writers include enough exposition and back story so the viewer is not completely lost. The film works along the lines of melancholic poetry. There is no smiling and many characters talk in slow lyrical tones along the lines of Shakespearean plays. There are some moments of levity with some side characters but they are few and far between.
The preeminent aspect of the production is its visuals. Whether its CGI or physical camerawork, it’s a site to behold. There are many long takes showing vast dreamlike landscapes and terrains. The 2.35 scope image amplifies its effect. A lot of it is CGI but it is all fully realized and beautifully rendered. For the most part it works well and blends seamlessly with real footage then there are other times where the effects stand out and are unbelievable and even goofy. Though some of the CGI is less than ideal, the production design is highly praiseworthy. Costumes and indoor location look authentic and appropriate with a high amount of detail given to every corner of the frame. For comparison purposes, there are many moments that reminded me of Zack Snyder’s “300” as there are many super slow motion scenes mixed in with sped up action.
This is a gorgeous looking Blu-ray. Well Go USA presents “Painted Skin: The Resurrection” in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio using an AVC encode. Shot using a Red One HD camera there is an incredible amount of fine detail. Grain is almost a non factor. The high detail works well with the elaborate computer generated visuals creating some seamless integration in most cases. Black levels remain inky and accurately dark during the nighttime scenes. Contrast holds up extremely well during moments when a bright object is set against a dark background. There are many detailed and vibrant costumes all through the film and the colors are simply eye-popping. This was the 2D version of the film and there is still so much visual depth. This is one of the best Blu Ray presentations I have seen in awhile.
There are two Mandarin options, a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix and a stereo 2.0 track. The sound is nearly on par with the video as far as being impressive. There is a wide front stage that bleeds nicely into the rears during some of the more sweeping musical moments. The opening scene where ice is cracking all around is a terrific first sign indicator of things to come. All the speakers come alive with life during the actions scenes. Fidelity is terrific and a nice low end rounds out the entire experience. Since there is no English language spoken soundtrack, subtitles are needed. Some of the written titles run quickly which necessitated me rewinding to catch everything said. Other than that they are easy to read when on screen.
There are only two extras on the disc. The main one is Making Of featurette which clocks in a tad under 24 minutes. It mostly consists of some cast and crew speaking about the folklore that went into the story of the film. There is also a theatrical trailer.
“Painted Skin: The Resurrection” is a supernatural epic with remarkable visuals. The story is steeped in the folklore that has detailed historical roots within the film’s universe. The CGI is not always perfect and some of the dialogue can be heavy handed at times but the cinematography is breathtaking leading to more of a visual experience than a traditional narrative. With amazing picture and sound, this Blu-ray comes highly recommended to A/V aficionados and lovers of Asian cinema.