Movie Recap: Painted Skin II – The Resurrection, part two

This was so pretty I had to include it.

This was so pretty I had to include it.

Look here for some golden stills from a scene that was cut from the movie (it’s the scene after young Princes Jing wakes up from her accident). Regardless of what you think of the movie’s plot and character development, there was an awful lot of eye-candy…

Anyway, Painted Skin II – the Resurrection, part two: 

The exorcist hums to himself as he prepares a sort of porridge for himself, leafing through some books. (He does have a house after all!) Suddenly, he chokes and spits out a bug. “The bug tastes delicious,” says Birdie, flying in. “Don’t waste it!” She lands in front of him and the exorcist lurches back. He starts to grab about different bowls and hold them over his chest. He also takes a weird amalgamation of bottles and stares at them, wondering why none of them are lighting up. Birdie says she was giving him something yummy to eat, is he trying to harm her in return?

Isn’t trespassing illegal? That’s the least of his worries, actually.

Stuttering, Exorcist says no – he’s just curious as to which species she is. She accuses him of being a fraud and he says that his family has been demon slayers for thirteen generations. (Is this another connection to the first movie? Come to think of it, the demon slayer of the first movie also had a green bottle with a bit of fox tail inside. Funny; five hundred years later, is her off spring still trying to track down Xiaowei?) He tries to prove it by pointing at his encyclopedia of Demons (“Almanac of Demons”), in which all of the demons of the world are recorded (supposedly.) Birdie wants to see what it says about her.

Exorcist flips through the book to the bird section and mutters about different and exotic species of bird demons (nine-headed bird, dragon-headed bird, etc.). Birdie doesn’t match any of the descriptions…at last, the Exorcist apologetically informs Birdie that she’s not listed. (There actually weren’t that many bird demons he went through, which must mean that the almanac records only famous/important demons. Or it’s just woefully inadequate, or Exorcist had to sell a volume to pay for his living expenses in rough times.)

“Maybe you’re not a demon?” the Exorcist suggests. (Um, you saw her holding the heart that she carved out of a man’s chest?)

Birdie gets angry and demands, “What do you mean I’m not a demon?” and does this partial transformation where she flaps her arms and they appear as wings. Exorcist insists that she must not be one, if she’s not in the almanac. More reasonably, he says it could also mean she’s too new of a species – or just not significant enough to be recorded.  Angrily, she turns into a bird and starts to peck at him; he tries to shield himself and affirms, “yeah, you’re too insignificant, why are you pecking me?”

They’re so cute.

Night has fallen over the White City, and inside, the princess and Xiaowei sleep. The princess(wearing her gold mask even now) turns to look at the slumbering Xiaowei. She reaches for her bejeweled dagger –

“You cannot kill me,” Xiaowei says. The princess, shocked, realizes that Xiaowei is not human, and Xiaowei affirms that she is a creepy music. (Creepy music.) Princess Jing wants to know why Xiaowei saved her, and Xiaowei said that it’s because the princess can save her. She explains that she was frozen in ice for 500 years, and that she is at risk of being imprisoned again at any time. This is relevant to Princess Jing, because Princess Jing has an unusually hot heart, heart enough to melt ice. Princess Jing either wonders if Xiaowei is insane, or fears for her life.

Huo Xin sits, looking over the landscape. Exorcist has finally managed to get into the fortress and he crouches next to Huo Xin, shaking his green bottle at him. There’s no reaction from Huo Xin. “I think you’re under a demon’s spell,” the exorcist says. Huo Xin tells him to get lost; isn’t he the fraudulent medicine-seller? (Ouch, you’ve got a bad track record, Exorcist.)

The exorcist tells him that his bottle contains part of the tail of a fox demon; whenever a fox demon passes by, the bottle glows. He then says that he saw with his own eyes, that the bottle glowed as a guest wearing a gold mask, riding a white horse entered the city –

MORON. You should have heard by now that was the princess! Didn’t you see another girl ride in with her? Blame her, not the princess, even if you actually suspect the princess! Huo Xin tackles the exorcist.

The exorcist actually did have no idea that Princess Jing is in the White City. Why is she in the White City anyway?

Back with the two women, Xiaowei brushes the princess’ hair. Princess Jing looks on the verge of tears as Xiaowei muses, you love Huo Xin so much, but hey, you guys have been apart for eight years, what if he’s found new love by this time? It’s a perfectly reasonable question, actually, except this is a movie. “What men care about the most is a woman’s beauty,” Xiaowei states. The princess refuses to believe in that, but then, Xiaowei wants  to know – why did he reject you? MEN ONLY LOVE YOUR BEAUTY! Princess Jing says he remembers what she used to look like…but she doesn’t look like that anymore, does she? Princess Jing starts to cry.

If I was a sloth, I would look at both Princess Jing and Huo Xin like this:

If Huo Xin just wanted to make Princess Jing feel better, reminding her that he knows what she used to look like just emphasizes how she doesn’t look like that anymore. If he really just doesn’t want to lose that image, he’s being a jerk.

“I know this might be hard to digest – you spend a fortune on gold masks and replacing them when people steal them, but you’re actually quite pretty as it is.”

Princess Jing becomes once again aware that Xiaowei is a demon. She wants to know if Xiaowei could help Princess Jing return to her old appearance. Xiaowei says that demons can paint their own appearance, but humans cannot. BUT WAIT, Xiaowei has a different method! Very softly, she whispers into Princess Jing’s ear….do you want to trade skins? Princess Jing pushes Xiaowei away. Trading skins to win a man’s heart is below her dignity as a princess. (…It’s below her dignity as a woman, period.)

Just try it, Xiaowei says; if you look like me, see how he’ll look at you?

Xiaowei smiles; she already knows what the princess’ answer will be. (Loophole: Can’t Xiaowei just painted herself to look like Princess Jing, but without the scar, and then trade skins with her then? She doesn’t care; she just wants that steamy hot heart. There’s probably an explanation for why she can’t do this, but no hint of it is given in the movie.)

A different type of dramatic music. Princess Jing says this is ridiculous, but as she bathing (still with a mask on), she remembers – everything is black and white, except for two goldfish in a bowl. The bowl falls over and the fish flop onto the ground; Princess Jing screams, the face of the bear flashes before her, the fish flops, Huo Xin’s face (blindfolded) flashes before her –Princess Jing puts on the mask, presumably for the first time.

No wonder Huo Xin doesn’t want to leave the White City. I doubt you’ll find accommodations so comfy anywhere else in this period of time. Great indoor lighting.

In the bath, Xiaowei approaches the princess. “Come, drink this,” she says, a pot of purplish liquid in her hands. “It will be like you have had a dream…a dream, where you wear a new set of clothes…” Princess Jing takes the saucer of liquid, Xiaowei looks at her, and there’s a strange expression on her face as the princess begins to drink. The magenta liquid runs in rivulets across the princess’ skin. A slight smile on Xiaowei’s face.

The sound of a heartbeating, the princess drops the saucer and stares at her hands in shock. Smirking, Xiaowei reaches to the back of her hair…and parts it, revealing a blue white glow underneath. She peels off her skin, and reveals this:

Her white hair comes lose and fans out behind her (it’s like it’s alive); Xiaowei licks her lips and the “tails” of her behind her continue to multiply. Her skin floats at the surface of the water. She approaches the princess and the princess tries to run. “I don’ want to hurt you,” the fox demon says, and uses those tails of white hair to pull Princess Jing towards her. From now on, Princess Jing will be the most beautiful woman in the world…Dark Chuckling.

Holding Princess Jing in a blue-glow infused embrace, Xiaowei removes Princess Jing’s mask. (Men will be willing to do and say anything for her, the demon claims.) A blue-white hand (tipped with black tails; this is straight out of a horror story) slides down Princess Jing’s back, and then it starts to peel off the princess’ skin. The two are submerged underwater; white hair swirls in the water like ribbons – outside, the wind blows and even the horses are unnerved.

I wonder what Faux-Xiaowei is seeing.

By the yellow-orange glow of the candlelight, the princess emerges from water into the skin. Xiaowei, now wearing the princess’ skin and her own style of make-up, fits the skin onto the princess’ body (her eyes glint green.) Zhao Wei is convincingly demonic here. Back in the princess’ room, the demon draws in the princess’ eyebrows and dresses her in a dark blue robe. The princess draws out the dagger and sees her reflection in the blade. The demon shows the princess her new reflection – Zhao Wei and Zhou Xun both do a nice job of portraying the other’s character; it’s clear that they’ve exchanged appearances. The princess touches her face with wonder, and puts the gold mask onto the demon.

The princess (so innocent looking) must return within six hours for her own skin, or the one she’s wearing right now will begin to crack.

Meanwhile, Huo Xin dreams that when he had the guts to take off Princess Jing’s mask. Revealed below the gold is the face of Xiaowei.

Footsteps sound as someone enters his room. Ever alert, the general springs up and draws his blade, the figure removes her veil- it’s the princess, with Xiaowei’s face. For my convenience, Princess Jing will be called “Faux-Xiaowei” when she’s pretending to be the demon. Faux-princess will be Xiaowei pretending.

Faux-Xiaowei says that the princess sent her to ask Huo Xin a few questions. The emperor has fourteen daughters, but only Princess Jing is still unattached. Huo Xin says it’s because there is no man in the world worthy of Princess Jing. He gives a sort of glower to Faux-Xiaowei, who smiles a little. She says that maybe it’s because Princess Jing already has someone in her heart, and does not care about his status, she just wants to be with him forever. According to Faux-Xiaowei, Princess Jing said that Huo Xin saved her life eight years ago (at the risk of his own). Huo Xin says he was only fulfilling his duty.. .Faux-Xiaowei wants to know why the general wordlessly left the princess after the Princess was disfigured. Is it because he can’t stand the sight of her ruined looks?

No, Huo Xin claims. Then is it because he never truly liked her? Huo Xin asks Faux-Xiaowei to leave; he’s only a frontier guard with no time for romance. Is there someone else that the general loves?

The wind blows through Xiaowei’s hair, and it carries to Huo Xin. “If you say there’s someone else, I guess there is,” is the gist of what Huo Xin says next. Who, Faux-Xiaowei wants to know. Huo Xin embraces Faux-Xiaowei. The two ride out of the city to the seaside. Meanwhile, Faux-Princess Jing looks out at them from part of the fortress.

Huo Xin goes to the seashore, Faux-Xiaowei (FXiaowei from now on, I’m lazy) approaches and her dagger glints. Huo Xin wants to know how she has the princess’ dagger – Fxiaowei says that she’s going to assassinate Huo Xin for the princess. She attacks him, Huo Xin remakrs that the way she holds the dagger resembles the Princess a lot. Cue action sequence, where they alternatively corner each other by the neck with a knife. FXiaowei holds the sword to Huo Xin’s throat… Huo Xin tells her to smell the scent of azaleas on the breeze. She pauses, and the flips over her. The two become submerged in the water (all the steamy tension probably keeps them from feeling cold.)

Kissing, in the water. FXiaowei drops the dagger and it sinks. It’s open to your interpretation what happens next.

Ominous music. The warriors of the Tianlang clan are on the move.

A magpie is perched on a stand; the Exorcist says (fun trivia!) that a sparrow needs 570 years to become a spirit, a snake 820, and a fox a millennium. This is why foxes understand humans the best. The magpie moves (Actually, I’m not sure what type of bird it is, it’s kind of cute though); Exorcist tells her to stay still – he’s drawing her. He wants to know if Birdie can introduce him to “elder sister fox demon” sometime. Birdie takes on a human form and demands to know why he wants to meet Xiaowei. Exorcist grins and says well, um, actually…he’s never met a demon before. So, er…uh, he wants to become a demon!

Birdie’s expression says she thinks he’s crazy. What a strange world, the demon wants to become a human, the human wants to become a demon. The exorcists excitedly says that it’s must be great to be a demon – immortal, changing forms, and nobody can bully him! (Ego problems. You wouldn’t be bullied if you got an actual occupation, Mr.Demon Slayer.)

Random picture of Birdie from some point at the movie.

Birdie wants to know if it’s really possible for a demon to become human. Exorcist begins to leaf through his almanac again, and finds a very informative page. Hey, yeah, it turns out that thwn there’s a solar eclipse, the world in is chaos because of the upturn of yin-yang. At this time, a human and a demon can exchange places.

Xiaowei’s life would be so much easier if Facebook or some other social network existed back then. She could just send out a “Human Heart wanted; will give Demonhood in exchange” advertisement and applications from goofballs like the exorcist would flood in. Also, Princess Jing would probably have been too busy chatting inside, to play in the snow. Modern society is so charming.

Anyways, for a demon to become human, a human must willingly offer up their heart to him/her…Birdie doesn’t understand – who would be willing to give up their heart? Would the exorcist? The exorcist – oh, more reluctant to give up his heart than I thought – says it’s just a legend, there has been no record of a successful transformation yet. Birdie says that if Xiaowei hasn’t become a human by the time of the eclipse she’s a goner. Exorcist is surprised, what type of situation is this? There’s actually a demon who really wants to become human?

I don’t know where his head was for the past five minutes.

Back with the princess and the demon. Xiaowei remarks that she was right, wasn’t she, the men only care about beauty – Huo Xin is no exception. The princess knocks something over; she hates Xiaowei’s skin! But, alas, Huo Xin likes it. In a fit of fury, the princess slashes at Xiaowei’s face with the dagger. The cut heals within seconds. Xiaowei remarks that if this skin is ruined, the princess can’t have Huo Xin. She approaches the princess, who tries to defend herself with the dagger. Xiaowei says the princess can have her skin forever, if she’s only willing to pay a small price…just a small price…Suspicious, the princess asks just what it is Xiaowei wants. Xiaowei explains that she’s willing to give the princess her skin, because she’s very cold so cold…she just wants to borrow the princess’ heart for a little while. Aghast, the princess refuses.

But didn’t the princess travel so far just to see Huo Xin? At this time, Huo Xin requests to see the princess. Xiaowei reminds the princess that it was “Xiaowei”, not the princess, who spent the night with Huo Xin.

Xiaowei, smiling, opens the door and welcomes Huo Xin in. Awkwardness.

He’s retrieved her dagger. He prostrates himself and offers it to her, asking her to take it back and leave the city. She bends before him and asks who he was with last night. “A woman,” he responds. She wants to know what they did, and he does not respond (he looks pained though.) Angrily, the princess tells him that she’s a demon, kill her! She ORDERS him to kill her! He’ll see what she’s really like!

Huo Xin looks up at her wordlessly, with…fiery eyes? The princess is angry; he can’t bear to kill another human being on the grounds that a jealous princess says she’s a demon? How vile of him! She’ll kill her for him! She slashes, Huo Xin blocks the blow with the bejeweled sheath.  He tells her to get out of the way, he just looks at her with stormy-emotion eyes. In the next scene, the wooden lattice breaks as he crashes through it, the princess lunging after him with a sword. He dodges her blows but doesn’t fight back. Xiaowei walks outside and looks up at the sun in the sky. Huo Xin is kicked/thrown/punched/kicked around out. Infuriated, the princess declares that she will teach him not to distinguish between human and demon. After knocking him around a few more times, he’s outside again and she has her hand on her sword (if their genders were swapped, Wuershan would be burned in effigy.)

At this time, someone reports that an ambassador sort of person has arrived. A flamboyantly red robed man apologizes for arriving late; the princess throws her sword into the ground with an angry cry. Blood is trickling down Huo Xin’s face as he looks at the sword.

Back to the exorcist and Birdie. In order to tame the demons, Fuxi made demon slayers with his own blood (apparently, he was the one who made humans). Birdie says that both he and this almanac are frauds. He’s just a con artist.

Random picture of the exorcist in a non-humiliating position.

He says that his blood has the ability to kill demons. He might not look like much, but his blood is the real thing. Birdie wants to try, the exorcist laughs…she leands on him, and he freezes. Awkward cuteness~ Shrugging, he says, sure…he positions a needle over his wrist (why your wrist? Why not your arm?) Seeing his hesitation, Birdie stabs him in the wrist for him, a dark spot of blood pools there. Birdie giggles at his pain and dips a brush into the blood – why so aggrieved, she only wanted some of his blood! He watches, nervously, as she presses the tip of the blood against the back of her hand…the skin starts to smoke and now Birdie finally knows what the sensation of pain is. Elder Sister has told Birdie that to love is to hurt.

Back to the flamboyantly dressed ambassador. He reads out the decree of the emperor, who, under pressure from the Tianlanf State, is betrothing Princess Jing to the prince of the Tianlang. This way the two kingdoms will have peace and friendship. Huo xin looks up in shock, princess Jing (now with armor) looks down. Xiaowei peers out from a lattice. All of these men are supposed to  be responsible in excorting the princess to her destination. Dropping the flowery language, Red Robe whispers to the princess that she was supposed to arrive at the Tianlang State 5 days ago…her disappearance has caused chaos. Any longer, and there will be war.

The princess refuses to go. She can’t, anyway, she’s already Huo Xin’s woman. (If you can’t have in, kill him!) Red Robe orders the men to surround Huo Xin and behead him for treason. Huo Xin’s soldiers jump to his defense. The ambassador tries to advance on Huo Xin himself, but the princess grabs his blade. Red Robe quickly backs off. At this time, another report comes in that warriors of the Tianlang State have arrived at the White City. Huo Xin stands and faces the princess. Xiaowei turns away.

The Tianlang warriors march forward.

Xiaowei is hanging purple robes out to dry. A bubbly Birdie runs in, saying that she finally knows what it means to hurt, and shows Xiaowei her hand. Xiaowei says that only humans know what it means to suffer. Birdie says that she really does, Xiaowei coolly says that a small burn does not mean Birdie can pretend to understand everything. Defiantly, Birdie says that she does understand.

Has Birdie ever had a human’s heartbeat or warmth? Can Birdie smell the scent of flowers or tell what color the sky is; has Birdie ever cried or had someone love her so much that he’s willing to die for her? Birdie can only shake her head. The moon is half covered.

One of Huo Xin’s soldiers helps him put on armor. Eight years ago, she was hurt because of him; he cannot let this happen a second time. The war drums of the Tianlang Clan are pounding as Voldemory approaches, chanting and holding a gross ball of meat in his hand. He calls for his ancestors to give him power. The chieftess ingests alcohol. The princess looks at candles in a dark room.

Huo Xin rides out to greet the soldiers. Voldemort can speak Chinese, and with mock friendliness, says that they have come to pick up their bride. Huo Xin tells him to be patient – the princss is tired from her journey. Voldemort says that they have been patient enough as it is. 100,000 soldiers will trample White city if they dawdle any longer!

He will look pretty for about five more minutes, and that’s it.

What warriors? The Tianlang State just has a horde of numbers. “Has the motherly love of your queen turned you to cowards?” goes the official translation of what he says next. (What is this supposed to mean? I do not approve of the implications! I am tempted to call this misogyny! Unless it’s a barb at their disappeared prince, which he isn’t supposed to know about.) He is willing to take on the warriors. One person charges forward, Red Robe begs Princess Jing to leave – Huo Xin is sacrificing himself to buy time for her. They beg her not to break the peace. The princess continues to stare at the candles. Huo Xin holds up well against the soldier; dramatic action sequence. One of his loyal soldiers (an affable and large presence) cannot leave Huo Xin to this on his own and charges forward to help. At some point the clan releases “wolf-slaves”, who bound towards them. The courage of brave Huo Xin reminds the Tianlang Queen of her dear prince/brother… some people get set on fire. Huo Xin’s hair gets out of its nice little bun. He’s exhausted by the battle. The Tianlang State unleashes a wave of fiery arrows, the nice affable man blocks Huo Xin and turns into a human pincushion. On fire. The soldiers ride forward; half crazed, Huo Xin stands up and prepares to fight to the death. He lumbers forward…

Five minutes are up.

Voldemort says that if they give the Tianlang Princess Jing, Huo Xin does not need to die. The arrows are bent ready. Just before they are about to shoot Huo Xin, Princess Jing calls out that she’s here. With a sword held to own throat, she promises that she will go through with the marriage in three days. If they don’t retreat now, she’ll kill herself. Huo Xin is depressed. Voldemort looks to his Queen. Thequeen states that if Princes s Jing is not at her feet within thirteen days, the Tianlang will return and murder everyone. Then the tribe leaves, and the last five minutes or more were pointless. So was the death of that nice affable man.

Huo Xin screams and falls on his back, groaning. He pulls an arrow out of his shoulder.

Why did she sing when she almost froze over last time? For plot, for plot…

Xiaowei sings. “The heavens and the earth are eternal, (pipa music) but my heart is full of sorrow, if there is a sweet hereafter, it will be another endless torture…” and Xiaowei plays in an empty room. Ice sprads through the room, encasing even the flae of a candle, spreading over Xiaowei – she finally realizes what’s happening as her pipa freezes over and her breath comes out as a fog. She becomes a frost encrusted sculpture. As Princess Jing enters, she pleads for help…Princess Jing embraces Xiaowei and the ice begins to retreat. Xiaowei says that she once loved a man (whose wife was much more likable for me than Princess Jing), and just wanted to be with him. He said he loved her and she believed him, but he could not leave his wife. It was to save him and her his wife that she was imprisoned. The princess presses herself close to Xiaowei.

It’s like she’s hugging a doll carved of stone.

Xiaowei envies the princess, because she has someone who loves her so much he’d die for her. How could the princess leave a man like that? Princess jing says that as the princess of the empire, she has no other choice (inconsistent with her earlier ~let’s run away together Huo Xin~).

Yes, Princess Jing does have a choice. She can become Xiaowei and remain by his side that way…Xiaowei just wants Princess Jing’s heart. (They’re still embracing each other.) A heart for a skin.

Princess Jing says that demons kill people as easily as one crush an ant. Shouldn’t it be easy to carve out the princess’ heart? Why is Xiaowei exerting so much effort? Xiaowei cannot have a dead heart full of fear, that’s useless. She needs Princess Jing to offer her heart willingly. Only then, can she become human. Behind her, he shadow rises and can be seen against the lattice as a fox. Xiaowei is willingly to go to the Tianlang state for her. It’ll be a cruel life, but at least Xiaowei will know what it feels like to be human.

Princess Jing and Xiaowei finally emphasize. Princess Jing had once thought that demons lived freely, now she realizes that they have just as any burdens as humans do. She brushes her hand against Xiaowei’s face, and Xiaowei leans forward into the warmth. What would it be like if Princess Jing does not have a heart?  Xiaowei is still for an instant, but decides to tell the truth – in order to maintain this beautiful skin, Princess Jing will have to eat human hearts and wander the world. She must hide underneath that skin.

But Princess Jing evidently sees nothing wrong with murdering people to eat their hearts, if it means she can be with Huo Xin! (Maybe she plans to prey only on criminals?) Also, Huo Xin will most certainly love a woman who has no problem killing others to maintain their own beauty. That’s just how his character is. Without a heart, Princess Jing will become a demon. Perhaps she’ll be captured back to the cold ice prison…but Princess Jing understands the conditions.

She is willing, heart and soul, to give Xiaowei her heart.

5 thoughts on “Movie Recap: Painted Skin II – The Resurrection, part two

  1. Hi, Thanks for your writing on explaining the movie in great detail. Are you going to complete part 3? I am interested to know what happened to Tian Lang queen. As she seems to disappeared from the movie, unless on her final scene, she was walking with her right hand bleeding, for giving her blood to be painted on her brother’s body?

  2. I got confused when Xiao Wei transformed into her fox form because it was different than her form in Painted Skin 1. :/

    Anyways I loved Yang Mi’s bird character along with the exorcist, the two of them paired together made Painted Skin more fun to watch. It was also great seeing Princess Jing kicking butt.

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