In 1620, towards the end of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Guangzhong was poisoned and the infamous “case of the red pills” began. On the brink of war, a woman named Jade Raksha was blamed for the murder of Zhuo Zhonglian, the governor who was investigating the case. She puts together a ragtag band of mercenaries in her home called the Lunar Kingdom. With them, she is set on proving her and her people’s innocence.
The movie is directed by Jacob Cheung who has directed a lot of Asian films and likes filming in this style. It is a Chinese fantasy movie with plenty of martial arts, magic and wire work stunts. It’s also a love story between the two unlikely characters. For the most part, the action was done well, but there are times where they slowed down the action to allow the characters to exchange glances. Unfortunately, this also makes the actors look like they aren’t trained very well in fighting.
Apparently, the story that the movie tells is one that is well known in Asia, but I’m unfamiliar with it. The problem that I have with it is the filmmakers assume that the viewer knows the “case of the red pills” and that made it a bit hard to follow.
The video transfer for WHITE HAIRED WITCH is a 1080p AVC that has very sharp details. You can see it in the clothing patterns and the etching on the weapons. The coloring is bold at certain times, like the purple streaks in Jade’s hair and the reds in other places. The skin tones are too warm or cool and maintain neutrality. The contrasting is consistent and helps keep the images crisp and clean.
A DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix in Mandarin is used for the audio track of the movie and it is fairly powerful. The bass tones are heavy and thunder during certain parts in the score. Also, the treble is clear with the clashing swords and weapons. The hits that are thrown make powerful thuds from the front of the home theater, but there are a few issues I found as well. The voices seem a little off from the mouth movement. Not enough that the language is a different dialect of Chinese, but like it has been voiced-over. This makes it look close to an English dub at times.
The extras on the disc sort of breeze over each topic except for the “Huang Xioming” featurette. It was informational on why some of the shots look the way they do.
-Huang Xioming: This featurette takes a look at the actors experiences on set, including an injury of a star that stopped production. When doing a stunt, his wire broke destroying the bones in his foot.
-Nirvana after 100 rebirths: The featurette shows how the filmmakers created the film and made it as authentic as possible.
-Jianghu Heroes: This featurette shows how the stunts are done with and without the use of wires.
-Wudang Swordsman: This extra describes some of the love story in the film.
-Arrival of The Witch: Fan Bingbing discusses her role as The Witch.
1 Blu-ray Disc
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Mandarin DTS-HD MA 5.1
Mandarin Stereo 2.0
WHITE HAIRED WITCH has some good moments and some that feel a bit uninspired. I think the fact that I had some difficulty following the plot without a set of “cliff’s notes” was a big problem. The Blu-ray itself is satisfying as far as the authoring goes. The extras have some good information, especially the injury of Huang Xioming and how it affected filming. As I mentioned earlier, if you’re familiar with this story, your experience might be a little different from mine, so definitely give it shot and see for yourself.