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xunshining 2008-8-28 17:16

Qing-era spook tale

It’s a topsy-turvy world of good ghosts, hateful humans and a flesh-eating spirit who finally falls in love. SHARON WONG writes of the movie Painted Skin.

FROM Gordon Chan (the director who brought us the blockbuster The Medallion) and Stephen Tung (the man behind the action sequences in movies such as Battle of Wits, Seven Swords, Accidental Spy and Hero) comes Painted Skin, a story adapted from Qing dynasty writer Pu Songling’s Strange Tales of Liaozhai.

Songling’s book contains spine-chilling stories that border on the supernatural, drawing a thin line between reality and fantasy with spirits, Taoist exorcists and beasts.

Satire is used to good effect in some stories when morality is inverted, with evil humans and upright ghosts.

Painted Skin is one spooky book, exploring human nature and morality. It’s a tale of a vampire-like woman who eats the skins and hearts of her lovers.

The film has an international cast, including Donnie Yen (Flash Point, Dragon Tiger Gate), Zhou Xun (Perhaps Love, The Banquet), Zhao Wei (So Close), Singapore’s Qi Yuwu and China’s fast-rising actor Chen Kun, among others.

This is the first time that a film based on ghosts has been approved for production in China.

In conjunction with its imminent release, the movie was launched at the recent Shanghai International Film Festival.

Zhou Xun plays a fox demon in the movie who is rescued by a general (Chen Kun) with whom she later falls in love.

She said the movie is different from previous adaptations.

“The director has added many new characters and side plots. The supernatural and fantasy are emphasised instead of horror, which was the focus in the past,” she said.

And this time, she added, true love is the theme.

“My character transforms from a selfish person to one who discovers what it means to love. In fact, this applies to all the characters who express love differently.”

Meanwhile, Qi Yuwu plays a chameleon demon who would do anything for the woman (Zhou Xun) he gradually comes to love.

This is the first time that Qi Yuwu plays a villain — and one that he sympathises with.

“His love for Zhou Xun is not reciprocated,” he said.

“All that he does for her amounts to nothing. In a desperate move to win her love, he acquires more power than her to force her to love him, but to no avail.”

Sun Li plays a demon slayer who teams up with Donnie Yen’s character to fight evil spirits.

They have a relationship which is neither romantic love nor friendship — but they would sacrifice anything for one another.

As this is her first role in an action movie, Sun Li found it challenging.

Fortunately, Chan encouraged her to inject her own style in playing the character to give it a more modern twist.

Painted Skin will be released in cinemas nationwide on Sept 25.

[url]http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Wednesday/Features/20080826165045/Article/index_html[/url]

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