I realize that I should probably review Painted Skin before I talk about Painted Skin II, but I just can’t be bothered to write about the first one when the second one appeals to me more.
I actually watched the movie premiere…but procrastinated on this post. Sorry! This is one of the movies that I really really like, honest! I’m just a lazy bum. Okay, enough. On to the review!
The film opens up with a shot of Zhou Xun’s fox demon, Xiao Wei. She has been imprisoned in this gigantic block of ice for awhile now (I think it was 500 years? 1000 years? Something arbitrary like that). One day, her bird demon friend Que Er, played by Yang Mi, pecks the ice….and the whole thing cracks. I guess it just took her a long time to find Xiao Wei? Oh no. I remember now. The narrator said that they weren’t friends yet; Que Er was just mesmerized by Xiao Wei’s demon face beauty.
So Xiao Wei is back up to her antics again. This time, she’s looking for a man who will willingly offer his heart to her…so she can become human. It should be noted that Que Er kills a tribal prince, who was Xiao Wei’s target food victim love candidate at the time.
Cut to Xiao Wei running in a deep gorge, being chased by a bunch of riders. A Prince Charming candidate appears, and saves Xiao Wei from the evil riders…who are actually revealed to be figments of her demon magic.
Xiao Wei spends the night trying to seduce the masked man. She takes particular interest in him when he shields her from the creeping ice. Apparently, the ice tries to follow her and trap her again.
But lo and behold! The Prince Charming is actually a princess, the lovely Zhao Wei. Xiao Wei still sticks by the princess, now that she knows the princess has some ice-repelling power (body heat?).
They arrive in a little town…which is really a fortress that guards the borders of the country. The beautiful Chen Kun plays the general, who awes everyone with his archery skills (is it just me or has archery been really hot recently?).
Look at him and tell me he’s not hot.
The princess apparently has a thing for the general, and he’s the reason why her royal highness would be riding to the border in the first place. However, he keeps his distance from her and emphasizes their places in society.
At the welcoming banquet, Xiao Wei works some of her demon magic and bewitches the general, making him ‘fall in love with her’ (I think it’s more like instant lust).
Over the next few days, the princess tries to convince the general that they should be together, to no avail. Frustrated, she tries to commit suicide by leaping off a cliff. Xiao Wei comes to her rescue, and reveals her demon identity in the process.
Xiao Wei comes clean with her identity and explains her curse with the ice. She suggests to the princess that the general doesn’t like her because she’s deformed. OH, I forgot to mention that. The princess was clawed by a blatantly CGI-ed bear when she was younger…and the general, who was her personal bodyguard at the time, always blamed himself for not being able to protect her.
They decide to swap skins (not as nasty as it sounds….okay it’s kind of nasty) so the princess can see for herself that the general is a normal man (meaning lustful). He actually does do it with her near the ocean, and the princess angrily tries to attack the next morning (after they traded back).
When some wolf tribe attacks the fortress and demands that the princess follow through with the emperor’s promise of marriage, the princess caves and agrees to trade skins forever with Xiao Wei. They switch identities and the princess must now live as a fox demon (and eat human hearts to survive). Once she eats her first human heart, she’ll be a fox demon forever. Xiao Wei, now the princess, will now marry into the wolf tribe. Since this gets a little confusing, I’m just going to keep referring to Xiao Wei as Xiao Wei (even though she looks like the princess) and the princess as…the princess (because I actually forgot her name).
Feng Shao Feng plays this demon hunter, except he’s completely inexperienced. He develops a cool friendship with Que Er (oh my sweet FengMi days).
He figures out that the two girls have switched skins, and hurries to tell this news to the general. The general rushes to prevent the princess from eating her first heart. She’s already weakened and hiding in an alley. The general insists that he’s always loved her. Their different stations in life, however, made him feel like they could never be together. Oh, and he also feels guilty about the disfigurement accident. He promises the princess that he loves her for her…and not her beauty. BUT (and I think this is the best moment in the movie), he cannot control his eyes. So he whips out his dagger and blinds himself. Yup. And Xiao Wei’s black magic has been gotten rid of. He takes her with him to the wolf tribe, in order to convince Xiao Wei to change back.
They realize that the wolf tribe actually wanted to use the princess’ heart to perform some voodoo magic and bring the prince of the tribe back to life. Xiao Wei smiles bitterly as she is hung up and sees the corpse of the dead prince…the same guy Que Er had killed in the beginning of the movie. See, let this be a lesson to everyone. Don’t kill people for their hearts. Karma does exist.
The general, Que Er, and the demon hunter arrive just in the knick of time. They fight with the wolf tribe’s evil sorcerer (Pffft. Twenty points to whoever guesses the actor).
They win, but at the cost of Que Er’s demon-ness. I don’t know how else to describe it. Basically Que Er loses all the demon power she’s harvested and becomes a bird. The general offers his own heart to Xiao Wei in return for the princess’ heart and skin, but she declines. She hugs onto the princess, who’s fainted by now, and the two ascend into the sky.
Then the general and the princess ride off into the sunset. Feng Shao Feng explains that the demon and the human merged into one body (what? okay.).
Whew. I haven’t typed this much in ages. Not prepared for the new school year at all. Anyways, I really loved this movie, because the love story made a lot more sense and is very touching. The first movie was sort of weird, because I couldn’t figure out who Chen Kun’s character (also a general) actually loved. And I’m always Team Zhao Wei, so this story appealed to me more.
The actresses live up to their fame. A-list all the way! Yang Mi and Feng Shao Feng really do pale in comparison. Zhao Wei and Zhou Xun really did an awesome job playing their characters…and the other character (after they switched skins). WAIT NO. This means there were no actual romance scenes between Zhao Wei and Chen Kun?! NOOO.
Watching this movie reminded me of the good ol’ days…when FengMi was still a thing. But sadly, everyone knows they’re really not together (no matter how cute they are together).
Oh, have I mentioned that the graphics are amazing?