Ronny Yu’s The Bride With White Hair 2 is a good example of a sequel that shouldn’t have been, and the two White Hair films, put together, is a good example of a movie that shouldn’t have been cut in half and made into two separate films.
White Hair 2 opens with a flashback to The Bride With White Hair, catching us up on what has transpired, before introducing a new set of characters that represents the “next generation” of the Eight Clans. One of these newcomers is Kit (Sunny Chan), the newest and last member of the Wu Tang Clan. In an effort to restock their numbers after 10 long years of being constantly attacked by Ni-shang, now unaffectionately known as the White Hair Witch (Brigitte Lin), the Wu Tang plans on marrying Kit off to Lyre, a woman from an outside clan. Unfortunately for the Clans, the White Hair Witch has another idea, and kidnaps Lyre during her wedding night and nearly wipes out the Clans all over again. Now it’s up to Kit and members of the other clans, including Moon, a tomboy female who has a crush on Kit, to penetrate the White Hair Witch’s “Evil Palace” and take back Lyre. If they can.
Those who have seen the original should expect more of the same, since it’s obvious this “series” was never intended to be a series in the first place, and that sometime during filming of the original the producers convinced Ronny Yu to split the film into two separate entities in order to cash in on what they thought was going to be the “next big thing” to hit Hong Kong cinema. They were right, and both movies brought back great box office numbers. (Of course, the above scenario is only my uneducated guess, but I’m pretty sure it’s close to reality.)
White Hair 2 continues where the original left off, but 10 years later with a grungy Yi-hang (Leslie Cheung) still waiting patiently for a magic flower to finally come to full bloom so he can rescue his beloved Ni-shang, not realizing that she’s already gone off the deep end. Instead of Cheung, who has what amounts to a glorified cameo appearance (he totals about 10 full minutes in the whole movie, not counting the flashbacks), the sequel is centered on Kit’s quest to retrieve his beloved bride from Lin’s White Hair Witch.
As was the case with the original, the kung fu is lacking, and what little martial arts there are have been heavily doctored with Yu’s usage of varied film speed, in which the action looks choppy and blurred. This is obviously a technique used to hide the fact that these kids (and that’s what they are, really, just teenage kids) really have no clue about actual martial arts, and thus can’t be trusted to actually “perform” said martial arts onscreen. What’s worst, Lin’s White Hair Witch has ceased all pretensions of martial arts, and now has some kind of telekinesis and can throw people around just by thinking it.
Besides having very little credible action, the film goes on an odd tangent involving the White Hair Witch’s new sect, consisting of all females that have been mistreated, in one form or another, by men. An Evil Sisterhood, if you will. I suppose if one was so inclined one could look at the reasons behind the Evil Sisterhood’s purpose as relating to women’s treatment in male-dominated China. Unfortunately I doubt if Yu had any such noble intentions, and only wanted an excuse to show women being evil, making evil faces, and consorting half-naked and insinuating lesbian eroticism. I might have enjoyed it on just that perverted aspect, but even those scenes are embarrassingly dull.
Whatever the case, White Hair 2 is a poor sequel, and is not much of an action film. Its heavy reliance on varied film speed gave me a slight headache and the swordplay was uninspired. The indoors staging of the scenes (and supposedly outdoor scenes) use to be “odd but inspired” in the original, but now that I’ve gotten used to it, only looks cheesy and cheap. The right word for this movie is “uninspired”. There seem to be no reasons for the sequel save to capitalize on the original’s popularity. The movie’s teenyboppers and their various love triangles are juvenile and unconvincing, but then again, what about this film isn’t?
White Hair 2 is notable for only one thing: it closes out the story of Yi-hang and Ni-shang and leaves no room for another sequel. If you had seen the original and enjoyed it, and wished to find out how it all ends, then I recommend renting this movie and fast-forwarding all the way to the end, stopping at the last 10 minutes, and find out how it all ends. I do not recommend watching the whole film unless you really want to spend an hour and 20 minute staring pointlessly at the screen, which I was force to do in order to write this review. Consider yourself warned (and lucky).
David Wu, Ronny Yu (director) / David Wu (screenplay)
CAST: Brigitte Lin …. Lien Ni-Chang
Leslie Cheung …. Cho Yi-Hang
Christy Chung …. Moon
Sunny Chan …. Fung Chun-Kit
Kwok Leung Cheung …. Siu Lau