Movie Night: The Bride with White Hair

master of devils

You don’t need to be a fan of kung fu to enjoy the book, but maybe it’ll make you one.

Because I often wrote about kung fu movies around the release of Master of Devils, some folks assume I’m an expert or that those are the only movies I enjoy. Neither is true, but now and then I feel an irresistible desire for some high-flying action and dark magic.

It happened again this past week, when I discovered the usual suspects at our semi-weekly Movie Night gathering had never seen The Bride With White Hair. I mentioned the film in an essay for Flames Rising a couple of years ago, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

Like a number of other Hong Kong fantasies of the period, Bride is filmed almost entirely inside a studio under night-time lighting, it alters (one might say “abandons”) its source material to emphasize a romance between its beautiful leads, and it has a not-quite-as-good sequel. Repeated viewing emphasizes the limitations of its action scenes and sets, but it never fails to enchant. Its wolf-girl and rebellious student protagonists are iconic (the latter a much better Anakin than Anakin), and you won’t soon forget its grotesque villain, whose nature I won’t spoil for first-time viewers. Bride  is the sort of wild, magic-laden movie that puts the Hollywood fantasies of the 80s to shame. If you love the films of John Carpenter and Guillermo del Toro, then this is for you.

The Bride With White Hair makes a tremendous double-feature with A Chinese Ghost Story.

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