Four years of gestation and development, and Painted Skin II, subtitled The Ressurection, will make its premiere some 3 months from now on 28 June 2012. Chinese director Wuershan, famed for his film The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman, takes over the helm of this Chinese blockbuster from Gordon Chan whose First Painted Skin film had Singapore's Raintree Pictures involvement. Now it's a Chinese affair, continuing the popular production trend in fantasy films such as Ching Siu-Tung's The Sorcerer and the White Snake, and Wilson Yip's remake of A Chinese Ghost Story / A Chinese Fairy Tale, boasting an ensemble of well known cast and laden with CG effects galore.
Headlined by the trio of Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun and Cheng Kun again, only Zhou Xun's fox spirit Xiao Wei links the two films together, with Zhao Wei now playing a Princess, and Cheng Kun a general again, but of an entirely different character than his earlier Wang Sheng. Wuershan found himself fortunate to have the bevy of stars in the original cast returning albeit in different roles, and having China's up and coming stars Feng Shao Feng and Yang Mi play what I feel would be central to this tale, with the former playing a poor ghostbusting priest and the latter a bird spirit, keeping to the spirit (pardon the pun) of how a Liao Zai story usually is, exploring romantic and forbidden, or ominous relationships, between Man and Spirit.
From Shao Feng and Yang Mi's introduction during the press conference, you can tell that there will be the usual light comedy elements put into the story other than their romantic relationship serving as an emotional anchor, but hopefully that doesn't detract from the seriousness in tone and treatment which the trailer had spelt out. Both actors were on hand to talk a little bit more about their characters, and how they eased into their roles, with Yang Mi given a pair of birds to observe their intricate movement to incorporate into her character, and Shao Feng having to starve on set to look the role of the impoverished priest.
Chen Tingjia and Kris Phillips play the Queen and Shaman/Sorceror of the Tian Lang (Sky Wolf, literal) Tribe respectively, and the latter has a chant lsating the entire length of the trailer, which also got its premiere today. And it's mighty impressive, to say the least, of the sneak peek into what's in store for Painted Skin II. From the beautiful, lush costumes to what Wuershan had stressed was on the seldom seen, picturesque landscapes in Western China and Tibet, the movie is primed to be a visual feast for the eyes, with special emphasis on the sensuality between Zhou Xun and Zhao Wei's characters, with plenty of dreamy sequences involving bodies in water - no stunt doubles there it was revealed, and tons of visual effects spectacle shots.
There's no obvious clue nor revelation of the actual story yet, but if it lives up to the promise shown in this trailer through its quality production values, then it's already many steps up from the first Painted Skin movie. Looking forward!