Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Sorcerer and the White Snake, The
d. Ching, Siu-Tung (China)

Shamelessly robust period fantasy very much in the same vein as the director’s Chinese Ghost Story trilogy, supersized for a modern day CGI-primed audience. Jet Li stars as an elder Buddhist monk who spends his time combating demons, one of which turns out to be mortal-loving snake woman Shengyi Huang who falls for herbalist Raymond Lam. Their charming romantic scenes give way to an epic, morally ambiguous battle with Li attempting to crush true love’s sway in the name of his religious stance. The satisfying and oft-told story (most famously visited in 1958’s Panda and the Magic Serpent) has greenscreen and pixilated action sequences galore, although admittedly some of the CG work barely rises above SyFy creature feature fare. All the human performances are appealing, even if the “battle” sequences consist of little more than the actors waving their hands around, pushing post-production lightning bolts and colored ectoplasm with abandon, a station that must be just the slightest bit humbling for one of the world’s great cinematic martial artists. Great, full-blooded score by Mark Lui.

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