aka 白狐 aka Arctic Fox 2013 Written by ???
Directed by Niu Chao-Yang
Another effects-laden Mainland China film about fairy spirits, these have been all been slogs, and I was expecting another mediocre effort. The shocking thing is The Fox Lover is actually good! The freedom of not being a direct copy of one of the classic 80s/90s Hong Kong films has given it some freedom to still be loyal to the tone of the fox spirit movies, but to be able to do its own thing. The other key to success was it isn’t as big budget effects as it is advertising. There are a few scenes, but most of the effects are more practical, and the lack of money means they need to rely on things like the story and acting.
The Fox Lover is based on one of the tales in Pu Songling’s Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio/Liaozhai Zhiyi, the origin for a huge chunk of supernatural ghost lover stories in Chinese film – such as Erotic Ghost Story, Painted Skin, A Touch of Zen, and A Chinese Ghost Story.
I think things went a bit too far overboard as far as female characters getting a raw deal is concerned. But then practically every character has something bad happen to them. It’s even a disclaimer in the film itself – romances with fox spirits end in tragedy. The only reason the mother fox is offering her daughter to a human is from a sense of repayment for saving her life long ago. It also helps Lord Wang out, as his son Wang Yuen Feng’s mental condition will keep him from finding a human bride who would want to be with him (I don’t think that’s entirely true, as the Wang family has money and there would be many poorer families that would give multiple daughters. But I guess that’s not as good of a choice socially has a hot fox bride!)
Through a series of problems, the white fox family is drawn into battle with Sea Bat King, who murders Lord Wang as revenge for protecting his village from the Sea Bats. Madam Yu vows to avenge her friend’s death, but the Sea Bats are too powerful to fight without causing danger to her entire family.
Willow (Gillian Chung Yan-Tung) – Called “crazy” by the other fox sisters, Willow is a strong-willed spirit who delights in causing mischief. Her hobby is ripping up kites. Willow’s color theme is subtle turquoise with touches of lavender and green. One of her closest friends is Rattan the tree. Does not initially think that Wang Yeun Feng is the man that she should make body contacts in cloud and rain with.
Wang Yuen Feng (Julian Cheung Chi-Lam) – The adopted son of the magistrate of Cangcheng, Lord Wang (Wang Yuen Feng was a foundling, and came with sword that no one can unsheathe) Wang Yuen Feng has been afflicted with an illness that turned him into an idiot. Has magic powers that need to be unlocked, and can only be unlocked by making love to a woman he loves.
Madam Yu (Kara Hui Ying-Hung) – White Fox Fairy Spirit who lives in Fox Fairy Valley with her daughters. As she was saved by Lord Wang 40 years ago, she offers to betroth one of her daughters to Lord Wang’s son. Has the Power of 9 Tail, though transfers it to her daughter Willow.
Ling (Abby Yin Guo-Er) – A Human girl adopted by Madam Yu, her color scheme is green and she is usually serving tea to the other girls.
Sea Bat King (Gao Hu) – Lord of Sea Bat Island and leader of a gang of blood drinking demons call Sea Bats. They are like vampires, with long claws on all fingers. Most are formless and black clothed, except adviser Wisdom Spirit. Sea Bat King can morph into a more demonic form that looks straight out of early 1990s practical makeup effects. Sea Bat King hates Lord Wang, who prevented him from feeding on the inhabitants of his town. His vengeance sets into motion a war between the Sea Bats and the Fox Spirit family.
Ji Yao (Guo Ming-Xiang) – A cousin of Wang who becomes the de facto head of the Wang family after Lord Wang is kidnapped and murdered. Wants a fox fairy spirit of his own. He starts out a coward, but finds bravery.