THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE - CGI Display
THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE (fantasy romance in Cantonese)
Cast: Jet Li, Eva Huang Sheng Yi, Raymond Lam Fung, Charlene Choi, Wen Zhang, Vivian Hsu, Miriam Yeung, Lam Suet and Chapman To
Director: Tony Chin Siu-Tung
Screenplay by Zhang Tan, Tsan Kan-cheong and Szeto Cheuk-hon
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: This is another adaptation of the White Snake myth of forbidden love between humans and demons but the good news is that it is hyped up with so much CGI wizardry that it looks almost like an Avatar clone, complete with copious amounts of 'wire-fu'. However, the bad news is that director Tony Chin sees it fit to keep the film's IQ at kiddie level with talking mice and clownish rabbits.
What's more is that Jet Li, obviously the star attraction here, is caught in a difficult position, having to mouth silly lines and perform unintentionally funny stunts instead of actual kungfu.
SYNOPSIS: Like in A Chinese Ghost Story, we have a tale of young herbalist Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) and a thousand-year-old snake demon (played by Eva Huang Shengyi, above, with Lam). It all starts with an underwater kiss with which the sexy snake incarnate rescues the hapless young man from drowning. After that, she continues to pursue him, against the advice of her close friend Green Snake (Charlene Choi) - until he agrees to marry her.
The match is against the law of nature and sorcerer Fa Hai (Jet Li) of Jinshang temple has sworn to trap and slay all such demons before they wreak havoc on the villagers. Trouble is, the kind-hearted Xu Xian has befriended the sorcerer monk and slaying the White Snake would hurt her innocent hubby.
HITS & MISSES: The spectacular opening sequences of a battle between Fa Hai and the Ice Witch (Vivian Hsu, above) gives us a taste of what is to come. One thing we can be sure of is that Tony Chin spares no expense over the sets and period setting that provide a deliciously rich fantasy just like those of Jame Cameron's Avatar and Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland. The animation is a bit tacky though, considering how far CGI has gone today.
Still, the make-or-break factor in any romance flick is the performance of its leads and here Eva Huang and Raymond Lam are not just a good-looking couple but they managed to look like young lovers. Juxtaposed against them are the ghoulish and comical relationship between Charlene Choi's Green Snake and Wen Zhang's novie monk Nen Reng (both pictured below) who gets 'converted' to the other side early in the movie. Other stars to look out for include Chapman To, Miriam Yeung and Lam Suet who seem to have fun playing farmyard characters like chickens and rabbits.
THE LOWDOWN: A CGI extravaganza with Jet Li in it.