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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

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

Categories: Movie News   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hustle and Flow – Human Nature and Kung Fu Hustle

Hustle and Flow – Human Nature and Kung Fu Hustle

A review of Kung Fu Hustle aka Gong Fu

Fig. 1 – Title credit for Kung Fu Hustle

2004
Directed by Stephen Chow Sing-Chi
Action Directors Yuen Woo-Ping and Sammo Hung Kam-Bo

Fig. 2 – Axe Gang members dance in a downward triangle representing their subscribing to baser emotions

Abstract

Gong Fu (hereafter Kung Fu Hustle), is a perfect representation of human nature, complete with characters representing the ego, the super-ego, and the id. The setting and characters are mired in the secret world of Jiang Hu. Characters grow and evolve through the film, throwing off their layers of subterfuge and revealing their true selves.

Fig. 3 – Pig Sty Alley

Introduction

As the opening credits of Kung Fu Hustle play, a butterfly flutters through a canyon that is a winding, twisting maze. A pullback reveals the canyon forms the characters of the title of the film, Gong Fu/Kung Fu Hustle. The butterfly’s presence foreshadows the final act, subconsciously readying the viewers for the change they will see. The canyon walls becoming the title let the viewers know that everything we need to see is there, we just have to look in the proper way.

Kung Fu Hustle is a martial arts comedy. At time the action becomes deliberately cartoony and over the top, those instances serving both comedic elements and further exaggerating the underlying role of the nature of humanity. Kung Fu Hustle‘s cartoonishness comes partially from it being among the last of the mo lei tau films, Stephen Chow growing as an artist and expanding his films’ reach to use things beyond sheer ridiculousness to get points across.

Fig. 4 – Cartoonish violence stylizes Landlord’s cover of having no martial skills

Characters:

Sing (Stephen Chow Sing-Chi) – Sing is the protaganist who goes through a standard protaganist’s journey. He begins down on his luck and with major obstacles in life, only to overcome the odds and save the day as the Chosen One.
Sing’s Friend (Lam Tze-Chung) – Sing has a sidekick who follows him on his schemes. His friend is another good hearted person who can’t seem to do anything evil despite his numerous attempts.
Landlady (Yuen Qiu) – Owner of the Pig Sty Alley complex and secret martial arts master living undercover trying to escape his past. Landlady refers to herself as “The Little Dragon Maiden” in Cantonese, a character from Jin Yong’s Condor Trilogy of books.
Landlord (Yuen Wah) – Owner of the Pig Sty Alley complex and secret martial arts master living undercover trying to escape his past. Landlord refers to himself as “Yang Guo” in Cantonese, a character from Jin Yong’s Condor Trilogy of books.
Axe Gang (Danny Chan Kwok-Kwan, Tenky Tin Kai-Man, Lam Suet, and numerous others) – The Axe Gang controls the underworld of the city. They dress almost as sharp as the blades of their axes.
The Beast (Bruce Leung Siu-Lung) – The Beast takes his Chinese name – Dark God of the Fire Clouds – from books written by pulp novelist Liu Can Yang.
Fig. 5 – Sing traumatizes children subconsciously repeating his own tragic life-altering childhood

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Categories: Good, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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