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The Sorcerer and the White Snake Reviews

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Super Reviewer

November 9, 2011
It's not just Hollywood that's looking at fabled legends to adapt from, or to remake/reboot films from the past. Cinema in the Chinese territories are doing so as well, revisiting material that will probably benefit in having CG effects to spruce up storytelling. Tony Ching Siu-Tung directs this update of a film that chronicles the romance of a White Snake spirit and a mortal man, which of course is forbidden by lore, and a monk who goes between them.
A battle between Fahai and Neng Ren against the bat-demon on Mid-Autumn night is an excellent case-in-point- ditto for the extended climax between Fahai and the White Snake set in the middle of the ocean. Admittedly however, none of the action sequences are particularly memorable - mostly because Jet Li only gets to spar against either a green screen or against 'green' martial arts actors like Eva Huang and Charlene Choi.
But in spite of these shortcomings, this remains a richly entertaining brew of fantasy, romance and CGI - the supernatural world is vividly realised, the romance is surprisingly affecting and the CGI is also commendable by the standards of Chinese cinema.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

December 22, 2012
Although certainly patchy in places, the visuals of this film kept me absolutely entranced. Based on a Chinese folktale that sees a mortal man fall in love with a snake demon. Jet Li plays the man who must come between them and capture the demon. I liked the idea of having the protagonist being the person that has to split up the loving couple. It gave us a better look at someone who would usually be a villain. The action scenes were full of colour and were beaitifully shot. Many would complain about the CGI but I was so taken in with the relationships of certain characters that I couldn't possibly complain. Seeing Jet Li bounce around the ocean as giant snakes leap at him was a great site to behold. The film also had some rather moving musical pieces. The character designs were a lot of fun and at times it felt like a mixture between classic martial arts movies, a fantasy, and a Disney film, especially when the talking animals arrived. No, it certainly isn't for everyone, but when compared with cheesy B movies, this was entertaining, visually interesting, and a lot of fun.

Super Reviewer

October 30, 2011
Tony Ching goes for heavy duty fantasy and romance with The Sorcerer and the White Snake.Story-wise, the film never drags, but at times it is cumbersome and even a little jumbled. The explanations, especially for the fantasy pieces, have only enough explanation to get by and that's all there pretty much is to it. The rest all relies on the story of love between a demon and a human.It's hard to classify this as an action adventure, even though it does have its share of action. Martial arts this is not because nearly all of the encounters are laced with CG effects, which are so-so at best. The film's final act relies heavily on the CG and this is a downgrade when it comes to Jet Li.Jet Li is the biggest name and he does have a prominent and integral role; however, acting-wise, this picture belongs to Eva Huang. While likable to view, her character tends to be unlikable with the way the story pans out.The Sorcerer and the White Snake is what it is and this 95 minute tale has its audience.

Super Reviewer

October 5, 2011
I saw this movie yesterday in Suzhou cinema under the name It's Love and I have to say reading some of the reviews that I am sick of people who give negative reviews because they do not understand something! I'll suggest to them to start working on themselves and their improvement and education about different cultures instead of slamming the hard working artist who give everything they had in a movie adaptation of an ancient Chinese legend... Movie had a success in Venice festival and I know why... it is amazing work of art!

I found some unacceptable changes in the legend, like adding characters and changing the initial reason for the demon and human falling in love, but the film was so well made that I could not give anything less than 90%! I know the pagoda where all this "happened" is situated; couple of hours from where I live and for me is much more realistic than for most other viewers of this last work of the director Chan Xiaodong (Ching Siu-tung).

Jet Li as Abbott Fahai (法海) (not the "sorcerer"), Eva Huang as White Snake/Susu (白娘子), Raymond Lam as Xu Xian (許仙), Charlene Choi as Green Snake (小青) and Wen Zhang as Neng Ren (能忍) were perfect choice for the roles. Wen Zhang was invited by Li to play his disciple Neng Ren and he was a real acting revelation for me! Regarding the action scenes, Jet Li said he had never been this exhausted before. And there is a lot of action in this love story! After fighting the White Snake, Li fights the Green Snake... after fighting the Green Snake, he fights the Demon... after fighting this Demon, he fights another Demon... after fighting this Demon, he goes to fight the Water Monster...

The official English name It's Love was changed to The Sorcerer and the White Snake by the distributor... I do not know why... it is a love story after all! If you like films in which the visuals are dominant go and enjoy this fantasy realm where the director has pulled out all stops to impress!
July 2, 2014
Really dragged out with tons of unnecessary scenes and lingering especially on the cheap CGI for what feels like hours at a time, but the central love story had a nice conclusion. The actors sell it as much as they could have.
March 16, 2014
A beautiful love story from a old Chinese legend put to a movie. with nice action, at times a little over the top. and still a joy to watch even with the fly around effects.
April 11, 2013
"The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain." This is the best way to describe the movie.
October 10, 2011
What a bad adaptation of a legend. Too much CGI takes over the story itself. I AM HUGELY DISAPPOINTED!! I know this story could have been better as I was a fan of the series when I was 4. I even went to the pagoda and people are still very intact with the legend, but the CGI takes over the beauty of Hangzhou itself and also the wuxia action. I gave it two cos I appreciate Jet Li's acting and how it has potential. Since I know the difficulties of making special effect, I also appreciate it. But there is just too much.
April 30, 2014
I loved this movie. Few people now about chinese legends and tales. I cannot blame them for not looking these movie with another point of view. Well, for one tthing he is not a sorcerer, he is a monk. What do you know about love? That's why people nowadays take love lightly and like movies like Saw or hunger games.... not saying they are bad movies but makes people violent. You call these fantasy and cheesy but who doesnt wish real love exist in our lives? And what did you expected from a fantasy movie... of course lots of special effects... like a manga. Watch the original movie Green Snake. The ending is worst.
April 23, 2014
The special effects are strange looking and sometimes impressive, other times it looks like crappy CGI, The Sorcerer and the White Snake suffers from a confusing plot, lack of detail, hoakey dialogue, and bland characters, with the exception of Jet Li, but even with Li, it's like Pan's Labyrinth meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon!
April 9, 2014
You just want to see that flower eating fool.

In a world with demons, sorcerers, and strange witches, two snake like girls discover a physician climbing a mountain. The physician falls off the mountain into the water and one of the snake girls rescue him. She falls in love with him in the process and follows him around. He sees her one day, they fall in love, and become married. When he discovers she's a snake, he will rely on a sorcerer to make things right.

"Where is my wife? Did the white snake eat her?"
"The white snake is your wife."

Ching Siu-Tung, director of Duel to the Death, A Chinese Ghost Story, The Swordsman, The Legend of the Swordsman, Dragon Inn, Swordsman III: The East is Red, The Storm Riders, Naked Weapon, and Storm Riders 2, delivers The Sorcerer and the White Snake. The storyline for this picture contains a wonderful love story but that's about all it has going for it. The special effects were overdone and the action scenes relied too much on CGI. The acting was better than average and the cast includes Jet Li, Shengyi Huang, Charlene Choi, Zhang Wen, Vivian Hsu, and Chapman To.

"You're no match for her."
"Now you tell me."

I watched this movie because it starred the marvelous Jet Li. He was very underutilized in this movie, both from an acting and action perspective. I really did enjoy watching the love story unfold and the end of the movie almost made me give this a higher score (the end is very good); however, the movie is just plain frustrating (the talking animals were ridiculous). Overall, I recommend skipping this picture.

"We'd rather die than listen to your non-sense."

Grade: D
February 4, 2014
My Rating: 3/5 stars; Grade: B-; Gesture: Thumbs Sideways; Status: Passable (Fresh); Emoticon: :-I.
December 31, 2013
very good movie sad and thrilled no froblemo
david L.
October 16, 2013
Not bad, seemed fast and the effects were not done well
September 18, 2013
Corn Syrup Kung Fu
For years now I have been a Jet Li fan. He has always been exciting to watch, even if the films he has been in weren't that great. As time has gone by though he has gotten better and the films he chooses to be apart have gotten better. So, when I went to watch The Sorcerer and the White Snake I was not expecting to watch a movie that would use up two hours of my time the way being stuck in traffic does. I know I watched a film with Jet Li, but I didn't see Jet li. What I saw was a cheap candy coated dose of twisted Chinese legends with an unclear pseudo religious message.

The story follows two characters, a demon who is a white snake lady and a monk, who hunts demons. The white snake is named Susu, played by Huang Shengyi, and she has a sister, the green snake, Qingqing, played by Charlene Choi. They decide to make some friendly trouble for a group of humans traveling in their neighborhood. The humans are collecting herbs for medicines and are being lead by a young man who wants to be a doctor, Xu Xian, played by Raymond Lam. During this little escapade of the snake sisters, Susu falls in love with Xu Xian and decides to try to seduce him and live in the world of humans. She gets Qingqing to help her in this endeavor during a village festival in the town that Xu Xian lives in, which puts Qingqing in contact with her own human interest. Long story short, Susu succeeds in winning Xu Xian's love and they get married and begin building a life together.

The second main character is the Abbot Fahai, played by Jet Li. The good Abbot is roaming about the countryside with his apprentice Neng Ren, played by Wen Zhang, hunting demons. When they find demons they defeat them in combat and suck their souls into a holy bowl to take back to the monastery. There the souls are trapped in a huge mirror that acts like a prison for demons, think General Zod in the original Superman. The Abbot is hunting down fox demons when he encounters Susu and her husband who are battling an infection spread among the people of the village by the same fox demons. Susu helps Xu Xian develop a cure for the disease with her demon spit. Fahai, after dispatching the fox demons, turns his attention to Susu. He tells her that since she helped the people he won't hurt her, but she must leave her husband, as her marriage is a lie. Demons can't love after all. She refuses and thus a war between the Abbot Fahai and the snake sisters ensue.

I would like to write a paragraph about what was good with this movie, but I am not interested in working that hard. First and foremost, this film was sold on it's looks, and those looks just aren't that great. The movie is heavy with CGI and none of it really good. Neng Ren is turned into a demon and looks more like the old Japanese manga Devilman. The actresses playing the snakes are beautiful women, but when attached to the snake bodies it looks like the CGI continues up on to their faces, making them look CGI as well. It actually takes a lot away from their natural beauty. The final fight scene involves a lot of water and the animators manage to ruin the realistic look of crushing waves. The effects just end up being see through candy coating, like fake chocolate covering corn syrup.

The writing is weak as well. First there are the romance scenes between Susu and Xu Xian, all of which seems forced, over the top cliches. There is no belief in love established here. Second, the dialogues between Fahai and Neng Ren, which I think are supposed to be funny, just aren't. The dialgues between Fahai and Susu, which include threats and aggression, are deadpan. Jet Li, who I know can be funny, is not and he is not even threatening when he is giving Susu her ultimatum. Then, there is the interactions between Neng Ren and Qingqing. It appears Qingqing when wants a human of her own she goes after poor Brother Neng Ren. This is all supposed to be cute and funny and it fails miserably. That doesn't stop them from at the end having a demon Neng Ren comfort his lovely snake girlfriend after she is beaten by Fahai. Very unbelievable sorrow. Last, there is the ending itself, where the script ties itself into knots.

I don't mind telling you this as I am recommending you don't bother watching this film, unless you need a laxative. The Abbot wishes to see Susu punished for not ending her marriage. Fahai kidnaps Xu Xian to erase all memory of Susu from his mind. Susu tries to stop this in the final battle. It is only when she agrees with Buddha, yes Buddha, that she renounce her marriage and spend her time for her crimes, which is apparently getting married and helping people, that the Buddha allows her to say good bye to her husband. She is then locked away in the demon prison in hopes of being reborn as something better than a demon. Fahai, sees he has been too cruel and indiscriminate in his demon hunting and chooses to be a more a peaceful guy by making sure the demons he hunts really deserve it. He even takes along the newly demonized Neng Ren to show his new turned leaf to the world.

All throughout this film we are exposed to religious imagery through the poor CGI. So much so, that I began to wonder if Jet Li made this film solely to sell Buddhism. The problem is the religious message, if there is one, is not clear. What is clear wouldn't sell Buddhism very well. All the demons, except Neng Ren, are women, good looking women. They tempt Fahai at every turn and like the Buddha avoiding temptation under the Bodhi tree Fahai chants his way through their sexy beastly dances. Fahai accuses Susu that her love is a lie and she just used magic to seduce poor Xu Xian in to marriage. The message I am exposing is one that suggests women are treacherous, seducers who led men astray. At the end Fahai realizes that Susu's love was real and he is generous enough to wish her well during her time in demon prison. So, the message can be summed up that women are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Archaic modes of cultural thinking that had nothing to do with real Buddhism is what Jet Li let slip into his film. Now, maybe all this was apart of the original legend, I would say that matters little as well. The Chinese, like many other cultures, attached their own beliefs and ideas to the teachings brought back home by silk road travelers like Xaunzang. We all know what Buddha said about attachment, don't we?

In conclusion, don't watch this. Find something else, an older Jet Li film, or a live action movie without cartoon effects, or a story based on something besides a legend that sounds more like a poorly written manga.
August 31, 2013
Watched 5 minutes of this movie, and shut it off. Off the wall, boring. Cheesy.
March 4, 2013
I thought I would like it! Okay, it was nice. It just had a lot of special effects that kept me looking all over the screen, which eventually got me tired.
June 1, 2013
I really had very high hopes when I saw the first 10 minutes of the movie. But one has to repeatedly ignore the cheesy lovey-dovey scenes to enjoy the movie.
June 15, 2013
Accept it for what it is - a ridiculous adaptation of a ancient chinese fantastical legend, with special effects a bit more advanced than a made for tv sy-fy movie. It's cheesy and over the top and quite entertaining.
June 13, 2013
I can't. I can't. OMG... I just can't.
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