princess is expected to relinquish her heart to serve the throne. She must
marry for expediency’s sake and potentially lead her subjects into the ravages
of war. This particular princess has the additional task of safeguarding the
Centrum, a cosmic artifact that can foretell the future. She will always do her
duty, but that does not leave any room for sentimentality in Tiger Tse’s
visually stunning sf-fantasy wuxia short film Princess Yun (trailer
which screens during 2016 HollyShorts Film Festival.
is the House of Li’s responsibility to protect the Centrum, while the House of
Yi is charged with safekeeping the Actus, a relic that holds power over the
past. For years, the two houses have maintained a peaceful equilibrium that
Princess Yun expects to continue when she marries Yi’s Prince Jade. It is not
just an arranged marriage. Ever since they were children, they had real
affection for each other.
that trust is dashed when a well-organized band of ruffians attacks the
betrothed royals’ party, injuring the Prince and stealing the Centrum. With the
natural balance shifted, the ambitious General Song exploits the resulting fear
and uncertainty to stoke her plans for war.
are unlikely to see a short film more visually and technically accomplished
than Princess Yun in a month of
Sundays. As an added bonus, it is also a film of considerable originality that
spans and stretches genres. You rarely find a wuxia period piece that also
incorporates time travel themes, while maintaining it ancient roots. Frankly,
it is one of the few films of any length that could be described as both
visionary and archetypal.
has an eye for grand spectacle, but he also renders the classically tragic
personal drama with great sensitivity. He is clearly ready for the big leagues
and so is art director Ma Jun, whose grand sets and lush trappings overachieve
and then some. Cao Jing’s costumes are similarly rich and cinematic. Chen Xiner
wears them well, while subtly but powerfully conveying the complicated, conflicted
feelings of the title character.
Yun is another terrific example of how wuxia and
related Chinese historicals give disproportionately strong roles to women,
compared to action films in other countries. Princess Yun, her mother Queen
Jingxi, and General Song are all forceful, commanding figures, whereas Prince
Jade is the passive one. Highly recommended fans of all pertinent genres, Princess Yun screens this Tuesday night
(8/16), as part of the “Action” block at this year’s HollyShorts.
Labels: HSFF '16, Short Films, Wuxia