The Sorcerer and The White Snake 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The SorcererThe Sorcerer and the White Snake – 2.5/5 – This is a review for a blu-ray released foreign film, starring Jet Li.  With being a film starring Jet Li, there is usually some kind of kung fu action happening.  There is some fighting in this film, but the idea of ‘Jet Li’ being in this film, was just a ploy to bring in the audience.  The film itself plays like a on stage play, with an emphasis on it being a love story.  Overall, this film has a lot of convenient plot devices, some actions and cheesy dialogue.  Even for the obvious mishaps, this film does enough that it can mildly entertain.

Premise: In the world of humans and demons, a master monk tries to protect a naive young physician from a thousand-year-old snake. Within this struggle, hearts will be tested, and the vision of true love will prove worth, even within dire circumstances.

I am not going to go into very big detail of the actors/actress in this film.  I will at least describe the three main players in the film:

Jet Li as Abott Fahai (Master Monk)

Shengyi Huang as the White Snake

Raymond Lam as Xu Sian

These are the main people that the story focuses on.  In these roles, they create distinct individuals that are very pivotal in creating something of value towards the film.  Jet Li is great as the Master Monk Abott Fahai.  He provides the truest complexity of a Monk found in his situation (trying to battle demons without harming others). Even for the decent value he provides the character, you know that he was ‘casted’ is mostly for his recognition as well as his kung fu skills.  For the other two, they are obviously great in their roles (like Jet Li) as well as provide creativity to the whole ‘demon in love with a human’ situation.  The chemistry between the two is elegant and humbling, as they help ground the film to something believable, as the film itself is created within a play styled fantasy.  When it comes to the rest of the supporting characters, you have other monks, common citizens as well as other demonic characters.  They are decent in providing color and variety to the surreal portions of the film, but aren’t enough to add great depth to the rest of the film.

The direction is one that staggers from the start.  In the beginning, we get a basic introduction of what the film entails.  We are first introduced (in a fantasy fashion) of Abott Fahai and his all out war in freeing the earth realm from the demon hordes that have infested it.  Along with this generic ‘good vs. evil’ premise, we are then introduced to the main focus of the film; the love story between the white snake and Xu Sian.  Within the first two/thirds of this film, we watch as both these stories parallel each other; intertwining the fantastical elements of the film with the overall themes dealing of morality, justice and love.  Within these layers of the themes and fantasy, the themes help provide a wealthy aura towards the films enjoyment.  When the film focuses on the themes, you get a sense of deep characterization as well as a great focal point for general story progression.  Where the disjointed feelings come through is when the film flips to the fantastical elements.  There is never really cohesion when puts its focus here, causing a fragment in the film’s different layers.  One thing that becomes obvious is how bad the CGI is, as well as the lore explained through cheesy dialogue.  What this creates is an ‘uncaring’ kind of feeling through the bulk of the film, as well as lack of enthusiasm towards the choreograph fights.  As the film moves forward, we watch as the love story and the monks fight against demon come to a head.  In this, we get the ultimate showdown between the ideas of ‘how far will you go for love’ vs. ‘what is the purpose of true justice’.  As the themes comes to the forefront strongly, so does the bad fantasy elements.  This causes the audience to juggle emotional attachment with terrible filming.  As we get to the climax, the film does take a proper turn, finding completeness to the love story, as well as the overall themes.  Once you get to the end, you come to the realization that even though some weaknesses of the film, you still find some meaning in the end.

As mention above, the visuals of this film are a glaring flaw.  Outside of the ‘on site’ location shots of the mountains, monasteries and authentic Chinese villages, the CGI used for the rest of the film is terrible.  The bombardment of bad CGI makes it seem like you’re watching a video game.  This creates that ‘dulling of the senses’, causing you to not appreciate some of the good parts of the cinematography.  The score itself is a wonderful part to the film.  With an authentic appeal to Chinese culture, you get a very splendid mix of instrumental and ballads used.  This helps provide some emotional overtures to the poignant moments that happen in the film.

Overall, The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a film that will appeal to very few.  Even with the small window of entertainment, I think that if given a chance to watch (even for its glaring flaws) there is some enjoyment to be had here, but It is nothing more than a rental.

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