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The Sorcerer and the White Snake (Review)

The Sorcerer and the White Snake

aka 白蛇傳說 aka It’s Love aka Bai she chuan shuo aka Madame White Snake

2011
Written by Charcoal Tan, Tsang Kan-Cheung, and Sze-To Cheuk-Hon
Directed by Tony Ching Siu-Tung
Action Directors – Tony Ching Siu-Tung and Wong Ming-Kin

Ice Age 5: Journey to Mt. Doom!

The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a big budget effects bonanza that also doubles as a sleeping aide. Thanks to China attempting to become a major player in the movie department, they’ve begun adopting the worst aspect of Hollywood blockbusters. Giant empty special effects, bland characters, story arcs that go nowhere, and a film made as generic and non-offensive as possible to ensure the widest possible audience. Sadly, that also makes The Sorcerer and the White Snake just like so many of those big budget films in that it is not very good. Now, I can’t fault them entirely for being inspired by generic Hollywood junk, that’s most likely the films that are imported over to China that clean up in the box office. But in the race to show how China can do it too, they failed to realize what China is doing is failing just as bad.

We’ve come to avenge Ting Ting from Thunder of Gigantic Serpent!

When making The Sorcerer and the White Snake, the producers decided the most interesting part about this classic love story was a supporting character who fought spirits. My thinking is they wanted to do a familiar story but also wanted to do a film with huge action sequences. The only feasible way was to graft it onto the classic White Snake story. But it just doesn’t work. The original tale is diluted and weakened, while the Monk’s expanded story receives little payoff. This decision even further boggles the mind because they kept the title It’s Love, which hints that the film should be focused on the couple and not the monk. The biggest sin of all is the action sequences ring hollow and bland. Large portions of what should have made the film great were sacrificed for spectacles that focues on looking good over actual impact. Thousands of people at thousands of computers worked for thousands of hours to make me bored. Many of the huge battles fail to even convey a sense of danger for the combatants, even when the entire ocean is turning into giant tidal waves with giant snakes swimming around, no one seems to be in real danger.

Someone wasn’t paying attention when they read the Book of Genesis!

But are there bright spots? Well, the film certainly looks very nice. Good cinematography. Moments of the action sequences are good, but not enough. This paragraph should be longer, but I really can’t think of anything.

By that time, my mouse lungs were aching for air.

It is legally impossible to talk about The Sorcerer and the White Snake without bringing up the last well known theatrical version of this story, Green Snake. I’m serious. Lawyers will call you and yell. While Tsui Hark’s film is a masterpiece, it is a completely different story (based, in fact, on a separate work, the book Green Snake by Lilian Lee!) Comparing Green Snake to The Sorcerer and the White Snake is like complaining because The Muppets Wizard of Oz isn’t enough like Wicked. They are two different stories with two different tales, with the same narrative starting point. And this post isn’t about Green Snake, it’s about The Sorcerer and the White Snake.

I hate it when I’m in the bamboo forest and a rap video breaks out…

Let’s meet the cast, then I’ll point out some places where the film did okay and where I got annoyed.

Master Fahai (Jet Li Lian-Jie) – The abbot of Jin Shan Temple and famed demon hunter. Very arrogant and strict, though he does try to capture most of the spirits in case they want to meditate for rehabiliation. See more Jet Li in The Forbidden Kingdom.
Susu aka White Snake (Eva Huang Sheng-Yi) – White Snake spirit that is thousands of years old and has the fortune/misfortune to fall in love with a human being. Eva Huang is best known for appearing voicelessly in Kung Fu Hustle, then getting fired from Stephen Chow’s production company, and drama ensuing, then still making it in the cutthroat world of acting/producing.
Qingqing aka Green Snake (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – The rowdy Green Snake, who is more emotional and joking than her friend White Snake. But she is loyal and will defend her friend to the end. Charlene Choi is also on TarsTarkas.NET in Treasure Inn, Hidden Heroes, Beauty on Duty, and Protege De La Rose Noire.
Monk Nengren (Wen Zhang) – Assistant monk to Master Fahai and he accompanies him on all his adventures. Until he’s bitten by a bat demon and begins turning into a spirit himself. It also looks like the monks don’t have much of a health care plan…
Xu Xian (Raymond Lam Fung) – A young herbalist with big dreams and posessing enough of a cool factor to catch the eye of Susu for some cross-species romance. Turns out he isn’t that upset that his wife is a snake.
So much CGI, the excitemenZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm

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Treasure Inn (Review)

Treasure Inn

aka Choi San Har Jan aka 財神客棧 aka God of Fortune Inn

2011
Directed by Wong Jing and Corey Yuen Kwai
Written by Wong Jing


Wong Jing scores with Treasure Inn, a blend of action and comedy with just the right ratio for a pleasant viewing experience. Like most Wong Jing movies, Treasure Inn borrows from a variety of sources, the most obvious are the classic King Hu wuxia films that revolve around inns (Dragon Gate Inn, The Fate of Lee Khan, and even A Touch of Zen) Jing makes the most of the sweeping desert landscape and the cinematography and nature shots are among his best work. Jing wisely brought in Corey Yuen Kwai (DOA: Dead or Alive, So Close) to direct the action sequences, giving them the fanciful look that Yuen brings to his projects. But before we get to the inn, we have the journey along the way.

At this point, I’m no longer impressed by opening credits animated in Flash. Luckily, the credits are quickly over, and we jump into the film proper as good guys are slaughtered and villains strike a deal. But let’s meet the cast!

Liu Jianmeng aka Young Master (Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung) – An apprentice cop stuck on laundry and cook duty while the incompetent bully actual police bumble their way through life. Young Master was taught kung fu by his grandfather, who taught him speed is the most important aspect and that true love is worth sacrificing for. Nicholas Tse has been on TarsTarkas.NET in The Promise.
Chen Yungren aka Brad (Nick Cheung Ka-Fai) – Young Master’s whiney friend and partner. Brad has big buck teeth that he’s shockingly using the entire film and not just for a throwaway gag. As the comic relief, Brad is usually horribly injured. Yes, this film has two actors named Nick as the two leads.
Lady Water Dragon (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – Lady Water Dragon and her sister are reward scammers and thieves. Lady Water Dragon falls instantly in love with Young Master upon seeing him in the prison cell. No one would believe for one second she is a dude, especially with the tiny Hitler ‘stache she’s sporting. Charlene Choi is also here in Protege De La Rose Noire, Beauty on Duty, and Hidden Heroes.
Lady Fire Dragon (Crystal Huang Yi) – Lady Water Dragon’s sister, who winds up with Brad, and the contrast of the two characters’ personalities gives us many moments of merriment. A tough chick not taken to falling in love at first sight to a random guy in jail. Is just as unconvincing disguised as a man.
Wen Wenqie (Tong Dawei) – A wandering doctor who is probably asleep in the ceiling of your house as you read this! Is an expert in kung fu, though always tries the peaceful path first. Wen Wenqie is in love with Yue Linglong.
Yue Linglong (Liu Yang) – Owner of Treasure Inn and badass swordswoman and dancer. Object of Wen Wenqie’s affection, and even Young Master becomes smitten with her. Some of her anctics reminded me of Moulin Rouge, though I don’t know if it was intentional.
Captain Iron (Kenny Ho Ga-Ging) – leader of the Gold Shield Constables, tracking the villain who stole the White Jade Goddess statue and trying to keep Young Master and Brad from getting the villains before he does.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 21, 2011 at 8:45 pm

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The Sorcerer and the White Snake

The Legend of the White Snake lives again in movie form with the upcoming The Sorcerer and the White Snake (白蛇傳說), which hits theaters in China in September. The Legend of the White Snake is a story older than writing, and has been the basis for countless stories, books, operas, tv shows, and films. The version probably most familiar in the west is Tsui Hark’s 1993 Green Snake, with Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong. White Snake and Green Snake are two snakes that have taken human female form, and the basic story usually involves White Snake and a young scholar falling in love, until a monk comes along and throws White Snake into a well. Later versions sometimes change things to a more happy ending.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake has Jet Li as the Monk Fa Hai, and it will feature many martial arts battles. Eva Huang is White Snake, and Charlene Choi is Green Snake. The scholar Xu Xian is Raymond Lam, and the Monk’s understudy is played by Wen Zhang. Several others have been cast as various demon characters, including Jiang Wu as Turtle Devil, Vivian Hsu as Snow Goblin, Miriam Yeung as Rabbit Devil, Chapman To as Toad Monster and Lam Suet as Chicken Devil. So it will be a huge zoo of fairy monster people!

The Sorcerer and the White Snake has had a few English titles, originally Madame White Snake and then It’s Love. But It’s Love is a lame name, thus the distributor changed it to The Sorcerer and the White Snake to pull in Harry Potter fans. I’m kidding, they actually did it to get fans of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice franchise! But will it have the “mocha mocha” song? Because you need the “mocha mocha” song!

Ching Siu-tung (1987’s A Chinese Ghost Story) directs.

Trailer:

English subs trailer:

Effects work video:

Imagebomb:
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake Charlene Choi
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake
Sorcerer and the White Snake

via HKMDB

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 5, 2011 at 1:43 am

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Hidden Heroes (Review)

Hidden Heroes

aka Zhui ji 8 yue 15

2004
Directed by Joe Ma Wai-Ho and Soi Cheang Pou-Soi
Written by Joe Ma Wai-Ho and Sunny Chan Wing-Sun


After Steve Chow stopped doing 30 films a year to focus on bigger projects, Hong Kong went through a state where the genre of mo lei tau was sort of a walking dead. But before the bullets where put through the brain, several pretenders to the throne were marketed. Nick Cheung was just not very funny, but Ronald Cheng at least had some of the childlike charm mixed with perversion and quick wit that was Chow’s claim to fame. Not enough to capture the thrown and come out with 30 films of his own each year, but enough that he could do at least one. Cheng’s acting style was to hold nothing back, often screaming his lines and charging forward, no matter the ridiculous situation, and going with the flow whether situations become dangerous or completely wacky. And much of Hidden Heroes is wacky. It is a mo lei tau film, and done well enough you could see Steve Chow starring in it, but not so mo lei tau that people start dancing in the streets. The tonal shifts remind me a lot of the Fight Back to School films.

Hidden Heroes is also that rare genre of Hong Kong Science Fiction. Not with kung fu masters flying around shooting cartoon rays, but with time traveling robots. And that will bring out comparisons to The Terminator, even though the films are almost completely different. The movie itself even references The Terminator. Because of the nature of Hong Kong cinema, Hidden Heroes becomes a few other genres as it goes along, sometimes tacking serious as the framed cop/corrupt cop story plays out.

This film is also where Charlene Choi and Ronald Cheng worked together enough to fall in love and eventually get secretly married. Their marriage was finally discovered by the Hong Kong press just in time for them to divorce. Another fun fact about Ronald Cheng is that in 2000 he got so drunk and disruptive on a flight it had to make an emergency landing to kick him off, and the pilot beat him over the head with a flashlight. This became the “air rage incident”, because every story in Hong Kong press has a definitive name. The craziness stalled his singing career for years, and he was just getting back into the swing of things as Hidden Heroes was made.

Officer Ho Yoiji (Ronald Cheng Chung-Kei) – Our hero is a lazy coward who spends most of the film plotting to kill the love interest while being engages to another love interest. That is, when he isn’t running away in fear from mad bombers, robot girls, and corrupt cops. And yet, Ho Yoiji is likable, and you want to see him succeed and not be murdered on his appointed date in history.
Mei Ling Chan 1872332 (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – In the future, there are millions of Charlene Choi robots running around. That seems cool, until you realize what most of them are probably being employed as, and then it all gets disgusting! Robot 1872332 gets blown up. See Charlene Choi also pops up in Protege de la Rose Noire and Beauty on Duty!
Mei Ling Chan 1872333 (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) –Whoa! I guess hair styles in the future are now mimicking Bride of Frankenstein! Robot 1872333 replaces 1872332, and it is her duty to keep Yoiji alive long enough for him to die when he’s supposed to die. Sometimes, she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
Mei Ling Chan (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – Another Charlene Choi robot? Nope, this is the actual Charlene Choi, or Mei Ling Chan, who works making fake passports for criminals until she crosses paths with Ho Yoiji. Then it’s love, and crazy, and love. Love means never having to say your sorry for shoving Yoiji into a washing machine after lying about his fiancee.
Inspector Cheng Wai Ming (Raymond Wong Ho-Yin) – He’s the chief, and he’s corrupt! Ho Yoiji is partially responsible for the death of his lover, and also inadvertently picks up the key to the secret money stash the two criminals had. So now Yoiji is a target. Look out, Yoiji!
Officer Zhang Kitt (Qin Hailu) –Kitt is the only competent member of the police force who isn’t evil. Gets caught up in all the Ho Yoiji hysteria, but is eventually proven right. Qin Hailu is not exactly a comedic actress, and plays her role strictly straight. It sort of works, but it also makes you wonder if she knew it was a comedy film.
Mayumi (Higuchi Asuka) –A former dancing Geisha, now engaged to Ho Yoiji until the time traveling robots show up and his life gets flipped, turned upside down. We don’t have a minute to rap, so basically they agree to see other people.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm

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Beauty on Duty (Review)

Beauty on Duty

aka Mei lai muk ling

2010
Directed and Written by Wong Jing

Wong Jing takes Miss Congeniality and 9000 characters and mixes them in a blender to pump out his latest wacky romcom (that’s cool people slang for “romantic-comedy”) that is so Wong Jing you’re gonna wong your jing. Or something like that. Like all Wong Jing romcoms, we got more potential couples and love octagons than you can shake a stick at. We have such familiar situations as the people who were lovers in school and then went their separate ways for 20 years, will they get together again now that they have reunited? Don’t forget the people who had crushes on other people and followed them around hiding behind trees. How will they find love? Let’s also give honor to the couple that is the main male character and the main female character. Because, they pretty much have to get together despite the super rich pop star wandering around in the middle of it all.

As there are so many characters and we’re trying to keep the length of this review to a passable level, the Roll Call will only list some of the cast, the rest will be brought up as the plot overview demands.

Chung Ai Fang (Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin) – A rookie cop joining up to be with her father on the force suddenly becomes the undercover beauty pageant agent who must save the girl without blowing her cover. Tough to do when you get pinned as the top contestant by the media. Charlene Choi is half of the pop super-duo Twins and previously was on TarsTarkas.NET in Protégé de la Rose Noire.
Iron Mary (Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu) – the tough police woman who slaps around criminals like they were candy. Or something. Was the childhood sweetheart of Officer Lu Chi On who suddenly reenters her life during this assignment. See Sandra Ng in The Eight Hilarious Gods
Donnie Yuen (Fan Siu-Wong) – Awesome cop guy about to join the SWAT team but instead has to help with the undercover investigation. Of course Ricky from Story of Ricky is a supercop!
Indiana Chung (Hui Siu-Hung) – Legendary cop who wants daughter to marry a rich dude so he can retire. Hui Siu-Hung has been in a ton of films, including being somewhere in Protégé de la Rose Noire.
Brother Ting (Wong Jing) – The evil mobster is Wong Jing, also the writer and director! Wong Jing’s movies include such wonders as My Kung Fu Sweetheart and Future Cops
June (Maggie Li Man-Kwan) – The daughter of an accountant who is testifying against Brother Ting, but only if June is allowed to participate in the beauty pageant.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - July 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

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Chinese Sex in the City to be Gillian's comeback film

We get hit with a boatload of news in one story! First, they are making a Chinese Sex in the City film! Secondly, Gillian Chung will be making her return to movies after the Edison Chen scandal as one of the stars! Thirdly, she’ll be joined by Charlene Choi, the other half of the Cantopop duo The Twins! Fourthly, the other two girls are Yumiko Cheng Hei Yi and Joey Yung Cho Yee!

You better know who the Twins are considering how much we write about them here!

You better know who the Twins are considering how much we write about them here!


Joey Yung is the Queen of Cantopop right now, but most of America probably has no idea who she is.
joey yung

Yumiko Cheng is a former member of the group 3T and is now a solo artist. She occasionally exposes herself on live TV, making her perfect for this film.

Yumiko Cheng takes a break from exposing herself to expose a pig instead!

Yumiko Cheng takes a break from exposing herself to expose a pig instead!

None of the casts’ roles are known, so who knows who will be Carrie, Samantha, the other girl, or the other other girl.
There is also no word on who Mr. Big will be, but my money is NOT on Edison Chen.
Asian Fanatics article here

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 19, 2009 at 5:13 pm

Categories: Movie News   Tags: , , , ,

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