The Sorcerer And The White Snake


Directed by: Ching Siu-tung

Starring:  Jet Li, Eva Huang, Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi, Zhang Wen

The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a 2011 Chinese film that was not released to U.S. theaters until 2013.  As a Jet Li fan, I was enthused to see the film—although all I really knew about the movie was that Jet Li was a sorcerer fighting a thousand year old demon.  While that sounds ridiculous on its face, Li has successfully dabbled in the fantasy realm many times before, so I was still intrigued.  Unfortunately, this is simply not on par with other Li fantasy fare.

The Sorcerer Abot Fahai (Jet Li) and his apprentice Neng Ren (Zhang Wen) are monks at a temple charged with fighting and imprisoning demons.  Fahai is pretty amazing at what he does.  However, there are a host of demons on the loose and they are wreaking havoc on a local village. Fahai and young Neng Ren must intensify their efforts in order to thwart the demons from spreading death, destruction and disease.

White Snake/Susu (Eva Huang) and Green Snake (Charlene Choi) are two demons frolicking on a nearby mountain.  As they relax, a group of men led by Xu Xian (Raymond Lam), an aspiring physician, climb the mountain looking for herbs.  Green Snake loathes humans and decides to give them a scare.  She startles Xu Xian as he is climbing up the mountain and he falls into the lake.  White Snake takes pity on him, dives in the water and kisses him, breathing vital energy into him saving his life.  The kiss, however, intertwines them and both become obsessed with one another.  Xu Xian falls for White Snake, or Susu as he knows her.  He takes her as his wife.  He is unaware that she is a demon.  However, a day of reckoning is coming as the Sorcerer’s hunt for demons leads him straight to White Snake and her new love.

The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a bit of an enigma to me.  It is a film driven by visual effects, yet many of the special effects were incredibly cheesy.  So cheesy, that I must assume that the director meant for the snakes, the setting and the imagery to look unreal and other worldly.  However, it came across as a low budget issue rather than a spark of creative genius.  The graphics literally looked like something you would see in a 1970’s film, rather than 2013.  Even the demon costumes and the "bat" hands for the demons looked like something I could pick up at Party City for Halloween.  It was really quite baffling.  The effects, coupled with the simplistic plot and occasional buffoonery, made the film seem unintentionally silly.

The one bright spot for me in the film is Jet Li, but he doesn’t get enough screen time for my taste.  As the sorcerer, he exhibits wisdom, strength, and even has a sense of humor.  His character is the type of fighter to ride a demon into the depths of a volcano, slay the demon and calmly land in the middle of rocks in a pit of lava.  He’s pretty badass, but even he cannot save this movie.

All in all, The Sorcerer And The White Snake earns a wasted rating.  You may need some shots of tequila to make it through this one.