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白髮魔女傳 (1980)
White Hair Devil Lady

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/07/2002

Before director Cheung Yam Yim broke ground with Jet Li's debute, Shaolin Temple, he had long been making martial arts movies (which is a mystery as to why Shaolin Temple is billed as the first kung fu movie in China??). White Hair Devil Lady one of his movies that came out before Shaolin Temple. It has all the characteristics of a period Mainland film - overacting, overdramatic, slow pacing, and uncharismatic leads. By overacting, I mean that every interaction between the characters had to be dramatic and unrealistic... it's rather difficult to explain; but such overacting was a definite part of Chinese opera and early films, and most mainland films have this (annoying) feature. It gives off that "the world is great, we should all be happy, even though we know in reality everything sucks" feel.

For me, The movie started out rather unpleasantly. I had to adjust to the mainland characteristics, and also knowing that this is a "premake" of Bride With White Hair (both adapted from same novel), I expected it to be like Bride. But as I found out, it's best if you don't compare White Hair Devil Lady with Bride, as their objectives are totally different. Bride is dark and furious, while this one is light-hearted and "weak." Especially don't expect the white hair lady to be nearly as vicious as Brigitte Lin portrayed in Bride. The actress here has an ultra high pitch, and she's more like a sweetheart here. Just think of this as a stand-alone and it works much better. Considering this came out in 1980, the action is very good. Lots of flying sequences. You will also enjoy some of the light-hearted moments.

[7/10] considering it's an early effort
[6/10] by normal standards