Hollywood@Home: White Haired Witch

Star-crossed lovers fight for justice in "White Haired Witch."

Star-crossed lovers fight for justice in “White Haired Witch.”

They aren’t exactly Romeo and Juliet, but Lian Nishang (Fan Bingbing) and Zhuo Yihang (Huang Xiaoming) have trouble staying together in “White Haired Witch” (aka “The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom”). This martial arts fantasy is adapted from the late Liang Yusheng’s novel, “Baifa Monu Zhuan.” It fails to live up to the legend of one of China’s première wuxia-fantasy writers.

Set during the decline of the Ming Dynasty, “White Haired Witch”is the story of the brave Lian, a warrior dedicated to fighting corrupt officials, including provincial soldiers who oppress the poor by stealing from their food supplies. Lian wears a mask and looks a bit like a female Zorro. Her alter ego is known as Jade Raksha and is nearly invincible in a one-on-one conflict.

Along comes Zhuo. He’s the new leader of a local province and admires Lian’s beauty and fighting skills. They fall in love, but there’s little time for romance. Lian’s accused of killing the local governor. And, Zhuo has an even bigger problem at the Imperial Palace. Fighting murder charges can put a damper on love.

With the Manchurians ready to attack, a weakened empire is made even more so by the assassinations and official misconduct. It’s up to Lian and Zhuo to fight for justice while simultaneously dodging the authorities.

“White Haired Witch” is plagued with a copious cast and an overly complex storyline. Keeping track of everyone is difficult and the screenplay is laughably bad in spots, making it even less palatable. The special effects, including the many fight scenes, are nothing special. I honestly can’t remember a single altercation that was any better than routine.

The film turned a profit in China, despite poor reviews. Rest of the world was unimpressed, especially admirers of Fan Bingbing (“Iron Man 3” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past”). Grade: C

Fast Facts:

Street Date: March 10, 2015

Formats: Blu-ray and DVD

Runtime: 103 minutes

Rated: “Not Rated”

Released by Well Go USA Entertainment

Fan Bingbing has the Zorro thing going on in "White Haired Witch."

Fan Bingbing has the Zorro thing going on in “White Haired Witch.”