The Sorcerer And The White Snake

  • Year:2011
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Siu-Tung Ching
  • Cast:Charlene Choi, Vivian Hsu, Jet Li
  • Release Date:September 29, 2011
  • Distributor:Icon
  • Running time:98 minutes
  • Film Worth:$12.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

This bloated and muddled epic fantasy still manages to engage thanks to its timeless source material and vibrant visuals.

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Inspired by Chinese legend, the mythology at the heart of Jet Li's latest cinematic fantasy is sure to cast a spell over fans of the genre - but despite conjuring up truly dazzling visuals, The Sorcerer and the White Snake bites off more than it can swallow, spiralling into a dizzying CGI mess.

The lonely White Snake (Eva Huang) is a shape-shifting serpent, residing in a mystical mountainside with her sister, Green Snake (Charlene Choi). When a young herbalist, Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) falls into a nearby river, White Snake comes to his rescue in the form of a young woman. Struck by the beauty of her human guise, Xu Xian falls head over heels in love - and afraid that he will reject her true reptilian self, White Snake conceals her secret and the two marry. Meanwhile, a powerful sorcerer (Jet Li) learns of White Snake's deceit and threatens to expose her sham marriage, culminating in an epic clash between love and truth...

Whilst there has been a fairly limited attempt to contemporise this fairytale for modern audiences (the characters remain mere picture book cut-outs), the strength of the film lies in the folklore on which it is based. The story carries a surprising moral ambiguity, with the sorcerer and White Snake's inner demons posing larger threats than any of the monolithic beasts or spells that they face in the fantasy world - and though the romance rates highly on the cornball factor (with a power ballad to boot), it is bizarrely engaging.

With demonic bats, cutesy talking animals and sea serpents, it's the kaleidoscope of glittering magic on display that will provide the real drawcard for audiences. Director Tony Ching Siu-tung comes from a martial arts background, and whilst the hand-to-hand battle has been well conceived, his imaginative fantasy sequences dominate the film. Unfortunately, his vision too often spills into computer generated excess. With a reliance on sub-par CG effects over miniatures and prosthetics, something is lost in this fantasy, and the final battle plays out like an incoherent computer game.

Though The Sorcerer and the White Snake is excessive and at times jumbled, younger viewers will surely respond to the colourful characters and settings, and the bold vision on display is charming... for the most part.

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