The Buzz: The Sorcerer and the White Snake

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Courtesy of Asianmoviepulse

MONK FAHAI, ruthlessly defeats demons disguised as humans.

While I was exploring the web in search of a good movie to review, I came across one particularly interesting film title. Watching the trailer, I was completely engaged. The overdone computer-generated scenes were a little too vibrant for my taste, but I resolved to try it out in anticipation of its animated plot. Nevertheless, the film shattered all my hopes for a memorable film experience and merely bolstered my growing distrust of CGI.

In the opening sequence of  “The Sorcerer and the White Snake,” directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Tony Ching, two monks step through a massive gate to find themselves in a harsh winter wonderland. Enter a seductive ice harpy, whom sorcerer-monk Fahai (Jet Li) captures, leading into a highly artificial combat scene. Li’s performance during the fight was especially disappointing; he only stood there and waved around a magical staff warding off destructive objects. When the fight sequence shifted to the first scene of the snake-demon sisters, Susu (Eva Huang) and Qingqing (Charlene Choi), I laughed aloud in my seat. Not only was the transition choppy, but the sisters’ extremely long bodies gliding surrounded by the impossible scenery was also simply hilarious. Other than such amusement, the film provides really nothing else. The CGI looks cheap and only serves to add to the insignificant scheme.

The movie is unworthy of comparison to other Chinese fantasy-flicks. Ching is loved for, among other films, 1987’s “A Chinese Ghost Story,” a startling blend of supernatural romance, high-flying action, and bone chilling horror. Ching transfers little of the wit and charm of such earlier successes to this latest melodrama. The scene where Fahai and disciple Neng Ren (Wen Zhang) attend the Lantern Festival to fight against the bat-demons is such an example. The combat scene is entirely laughable; the bat king flying around in the air with Fahai desperately holding on crossed the line of decent CGI usage. I thought I had sat down to a very long video game. Another instance of cheap CGI display is one of the concluding scenes where Susu and Fahai participate in a mediocre duel. The characters are only moving their arms in a cool manner; the special effects fight for them. I would have applauded this particular scene if the special effects were realistic and well-used. But once again, the scene was unable to surpass video game-esque computer effects.

The film succeeded to crack me up at intervals, but it looks so glossy and plasticized that all you end up remembering is its special effects.Yes, it was that bad. I strongly discourage viewing for anyone of any age, but if you insist, I most kindly advise you to save it for a dreary afternoon.