THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR
(Bai Fa Mo Nu Zhuan)
The Bride With White Hair follows the established traditions of most of the films in this subgenre. Director Ronnie Yu has shot the film with florid over-ornamentation all lushly dressed interiors, pastel lighting schemes, love scenes in waterfalls and drifting petals. (The film is photographed by Peter Pau who went onto win an Oscar for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). However, beyond the acclaim the film has attained with Hong Kong aficionados, The Bride With White Hair is uneven and often inconsistent in tone. Ronnie Yu will go from scenes of ferocious swordplay into the sappy comedy beloved in Hong Kong cinema. Scenes of great beauty like the young Cho rehearsing with his sword against a pink/orange sunset or amid the fall of blossoms sit alongside some of the genres usual aerial acrobatics that look decidedly cheap and perfunctory. One gets the impression that Ronnie Yu was trying to do something different with the Wu Xia film he seems to want to move beyond all the acrobatics into creating a lush romantic epic and The Bride With White Hair has often been called a wu xia equivalent of Romeo and Juliet but failed to achieve what he wanted.
The plot is often hard to follow, at least until its romance takes over some of the way in. The acting of particularly Elaine Lui as the Siamese sister is so over-the-top as to appear crazed. Nevertheless, The Bride With White Hair has its moments some of the mid-air fights and swordplay are good despite their familiarity and there is the odd imaginative touch like Brigitte Lin whipping people with her long hair. Leslie Cheung smoulders with a sultry male sexuality he seems to have enough in that department to make up for the mannish looks of Brigitte Lin.
There was a sequel released the same year with The Bride With White Hair 2 (1993), which reunites Leslie Cheung and Brigitte Lin and is a more straightforward Seven Samurai-type story. Here director Ronnie Yu has departed and turned directorial duties over to this films editor and co-writer David Wu. The same book that the film is based on had furnished an earlier adaptation White Hair Devil Lady (1980).
Ronnie Yu was one of the original directors at the start of the Wu Xia cycle. He has made martial arts efforts like The Postman Strikes Back (1981), the horror comedy The Trail (1983), the horror comedy The Occupant/The Tenant (1984), the horror film Bless This House (1988) and subsequent to The Bride With White Hair, the Wu Xia Phantom Lover (1995). He has also made the crime thriller The Saviour (1980), the psycho-thriller Mummy Dearest (1985) and the gangster films Legacy of Rage (1988) and China White (1989). With the handover of Hong Kong to China, Yu departed for the US, making English-language films like Warriors of Virtue (1997), Bride of Chucky (1998), the action film The 51st State (2001) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003), before returning to make the acclaimed Jet Li martial arts film Fearless (2006) and the historical epic Saving General Yang (2013).