I had nil expectations, considering i was not particularly frightened when i read Liao Zhao’s creepy tales as a kid. The only reason why I wanted to catch 画皮 was for Zhou Xun, whom i have loved since i saw her in 香港有個荷里活 and 巴尔扎克和小裁缝. I caught the former on SCV by chance, and I was so impressed by Zhou Xun, i became a little fan and was delighted when her immense talent was finally recognized by the mainstream market through Perhaps Love.
Zhou Xun did not disappoint as a devilish and deeply alluring fox demon. Her cold-hearted disgust with her faithful, love-lorn reptile demon of a sidekick (Qi Yu Wu) was so palatable that you can’t help feeling sorry for him when her repulse finally culminated in a powerful outburst where she, in a nutshell, told him to get lost. Zhou Xun’s extremely expressive pixie face conveyed her craftiness in plotting to get the man she wants, her fear, sense of loss and selfishness when Qi Yu Wu abandoned her and her pain when she realised that she may never know love.
The biggest surprise of 画皮 however, was Zhao Wei. As the repressed and long-suffering wife who quietly stood by and protected her husband (Chen Kun) from the advances of a fox-demon, Zhao Wei was the perfect picture of dignity, true love and sacrifice. I never would have imagined Zhao Wei, the princess of cutie-pies-realm, capable of such depth.
I teared at many points in time- when Zhao Wei chose to give up her own life, when Chen Kun resignedly accused Zhao Wei of not trusting him, when Donnie Yen (who provided plenty of comic relief) displayed his firm belief in Zhao Wei’s innocence, when Zhou Xun eventually realised the meaning of love, when Chen Kun, in a rather unexpected twist, professed his loyalty and love, when the ending came…
Painted Skin was all about well, love- how love can drive the most intelligent of us to do the stupidest of things, how love may bring pain and regret, but also how love may bring out the best in human beings. Kudos also go to Jane Zhang for the hauntingly beautiful theme song. The film was a little draggy at times, a tad melodramatic at others, but on the whole, it was well-worth my ten bucks simply because…I was very very touched=)