The Sorcerer and the White Snake is one of the strangest, most visually stunning and original fantasy films of recent times. You really should give it a shot if you’re looking for something truly bizarre and unique.
As innocently childlike as its title, The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a visually lavish epic fantasy that happily marries the latest advances in CGI. Action techniques with ancient Chinese fable and a Buddhist atmosphere. The story of a woman demon who falls in love with a mortal will ring bells for Westerners as a charming variant on Hans Christian
Andersen’s Little Mermaid tale, though here the scaly mermaid is a huge, beautiful snake. With non-stop action to attract the lads, the tale is laced with enough overblown romanticism for ten chick flicks, yet chaste enough for children. Audiences with a taste for Chinese action spectaculars should enjoy this classy crossover from master Hong Kong director and action choreographer Tony Ching Siu-tung.
In the opening sequence of The Sorcerer and the White Snake, two monks step through a giant gate and find themselves in a new world — one made entirely of computer-generated images. Only Fahai (Jet Li) and his disciple Neng Ren (Zhang Wen) are human.
“Don’t believe everything you see,” the older man warns.
It’s an apt prologue for a movie that’s based on a venerable Chinese folk tale and packed with unreal creatures and impossible scenery. For decades, Chinese-language fantasy flicks were known for realistic fight sequences and laughable special effects. This China/Hong Kong co-production flips the formula: The fantastic images are solid, but the action is less substantial.
Defeats Ice Witch in First battle
There’s no waiting for the action to start, no time lost in character development or other preliminaries. In the first five minutes, the powerful sorcerer-monk Fahai (a reassuringly imperturbable Jet Li). He defeats a seductive-looking Ice Witch and instructs his comical disciple Neng-Wen to imprison her in the wall of a sacred pagoda high in the mountains. This is the first of multiple battles against a range of gorgeous demon temptresses. That all of them strangely female, while the celibate demon-busters from Fahai’s monastery are all men. Coincidence?
Not really, as the principal demon is a lovely, willful white snake played by rising Chinese star Eva Huang. She and her equally entrancing sister snake. She is Green snake (Hong Kong actress Charlene Choi), lounge in their primeval fantasy forest, watching Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) and his friends scavenge the mountainside for medicinal herbs. When Green playfully assumes her giant python form and scares Xu Xian into falling into a river. Then White takes on human guise and saves him with a kiss he can’t forget.
After centuries of meditation, the sisters have become extremely powerful “demons”. But nothing can stop White’s longing to live in the human world with Xu Xian. At a fantastically lit Lantern Festival filled with fireworks and river floats. She reveals herself to the poor herbalist as the woman who saved his life on the mountain, and goes to live with him as his wife. This breaks a major taboo in Fahai’s world that prohibits demons and humans from consorting. After that the monk sets about separating the two lovers.
More Comment for this movie:
I’m not usually a fan of this kind of of film; the cornucopia of special effects, outlandish storyline, and over melodramatic storytelling. But I was in the mood and gave it a try. Very pleasantly surprised and I enjoyed my time watching it.
You have to have a basic familiarity with Chinese folklore to maybe understand the cultural concepts, however, it is pretty simple. Animal spirits (some are malicious, others are passive) cross over from another realm. Their interactions with the mortals of this realm usually end up badly for the humans. A thousand year old white snake spirit and a young simple herbalist falls in love. However, a sorcerer monk who devoted his life to banishing these animal spirits. That will not allow it, believing it will ultimately end in disaster for the mortal. So conflict ensues, destruction and chaos materialize, and hearts are broken.
All in all it was entertaining. It had some good fight scenes, fun CGI, and the women were absolutely gorgeous. (I could easily fall in love with the green snake spirit. LOL) So if you are ever in a mood for a lighthearted fantasy story, I recommend this movie.
Theactionelite – Said
Jet Li stars in this visually stunning, martial arts fantasy which is one of strangest movies I’ve ever seen. That is by no means a flaw as it was refreshing to watch something with such imagination and it was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
It’s not too often you can say that these days and I got completely swept up in the story which is apparently based on the Chinese Legend of the White Snake.
The action is fantastic (literally) with amazing martial arts, but there are also a lot of fantasy elements with CGI effects, some of which are better than others. The two female snakes are played by Charlene Choi and Shengyi Huang who are both stunning looking but they also have very expressive faces and give great performances.
The film is surprisngly romantic and because it was so strange it shouldn’t have worked but for me it did. There were some things that didn’t quite work like the talking mouse/turtle and the CGI overload at the end, so it definitely will not be for everyone. It does however, have real heart to the story and that makes it all easier to swallow.
The music is fabulous with a really epic sound to it and it really helps in creating this alternate realm of spirits and demons.
Because you’re emotionally engaged with the characters and you care what happens to them, the film flies by at a great pace.
Overall, The Sorcerer and the White Snake is one of the strangest, most visually stunning and original fantasy films of recent times. You really should give it a shot if you’re looking for something truly bizarre and unique.
Venue: Venice Film Festival (out of competition), Sept. 2, 2011.
Production company: Juli Entertainment Media
Cast: Jet Li, Eva Huang, Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi, Wen Zhang, Vivian Hsu
Director: Tony Ching Siu-tung
Screenwriters: Tan Zhang, Kan-Cheong Tsang, Cheuk-Hon Szeto.
Executive producers: Yang Zi, Wang Song, Wang Yue
Producer: Chui Po Chu
Director of photography: Venus Keung
Production designer: Zhai Tao
Music: Mark Lui
Costumes: William Chang
Editor: Angie Lam
Sales Agent: Distribution Workshop