The Bride with White Hair

Atop Thousand Snow Mountain a man silently waits, resolute in his task, the guardian of a mystical flower which blossoms only once every twenty years. An envoy has been sent with his entourage to collect it for the Emperor, but the man refuses and battle ensues, for that blossom will one day be his gift to the Bride with White Hair.

An apology for his failure to trust her when he should have done, his name is Zhuo Yihang, once a warrior raised within the Wudang Sect and expected one day to lead them, so was his prowess was the blade and the sharpness of his wisdom, but he was as wilful as he was skilful and the combination repeatedly brought trouble and eventually the attention of the Wu-Shiang.

A demonic cult from the borderlands led by insane conjoined twins, their agents bring violence and chaos to the people of the plains, but leading the raiding party was a woman of elegance and deadly power with whom Zhuo became infatuated; a nameless orphan raised by the Wu-Shiang whom he named Lian Nichang, his devotion to her was seen to be at odds with his duty to the Wudang.

Directed by Ronny Yu, the 1993 wuxia epic The Bride with White Hair (白髮魔女傳, Bái Fà Mó Nǚ Zhuàn) was loosely adapted from Liang Yusheng’s 1957 martial arts fantasy serial novel of the same name, bringing to the fore the doomed romance between reluctant hero Zhuo Yihang (former Cantopop star Leslie Cheung) and the cursed Lian Nichang (Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain’s Brigitte Lin).

Given a 4K restoration approved by Ronny Yu for release by Eureka, The Bride with White Hair is almost operatic in its bold themes of life, death and loyalty and the visual splendour of falling blossom at sunset as Zhuo Yihang practices swordplay, of cascading waterfalls as Lian Nichang bathes, a vivid fantasia whose fight scenes flow with grace, energy and precision.

The accompanying interview with Yu discussing the influence of Last of the Mohicans and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, unexpected but obvious with hindsight, composer Richard Yuen similarly cites John Barry and James Horner as inspiration, and also included on the disc are two commentaries, further interviews and an archive documentary, a comprehensive dowry to make the wild and stylish phantasmagoria of The Bride with White Hair even more desirable.

The Bride with White Hair is available on Blu-ray from Eureka now