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Home | Film Reviews | Asian Reviews | Film Review: The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

Film Review: The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

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A master monk tries to protect a naive young physician from a thousand-year-old snake demon. A contest of psychic powers results in mayhem


This film caught me completely off guard. Usually a film with so much to offer and such visual appeal would be high on my radar (and 2011 no less!!!). “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” (originally “The Emperor and the White Snake”) is truly something special to behold…AND we get the talents of Jet li to boot. Saturated in tradition, lore, and high tech FX work, “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” is an action packed, fantastical display of martial arts pyrotechnics, warmth, and wizardry. Jet Li is the master monk Abott Fahai, wise, powerful, and all knowing. Neng Ren is his protege in training,

The film begins with a trip thru a magical door and a battle against an ice harpy (who must be confined to the “Lei Feng Pagoda”). Once inside, the harpy is banned to a magic circle designed to contain demons from harming the Earth.

Abott and Neng Ren take on quite a collection of magical beasts, opponents, and creatures from other realms. However with all the film’s visual finesse, the heart of this story “really” lies within the foundations of finding true love (as we evolve into our additional 2 focal characters).

Neng Ren who takes on a group of bat demons is “almost” successful with the exception of being bitten by the “bat demon king” beginning a slow transformation into one of them himself. Abott Fahai does come to the rescue taking on the most powerful of them (but a bit too late for Neng Ren).

Holding a rather beautiful elegance are the snake sisters (Shengyi Huang) White snake “Susu”(no not the metal band…) and Green Snake (Charlene Choi) “Qingqing”. They slither about the forests playing pranks (when the opportunity presents itself). The White Snake (Shengyi Huang) (called Susu in the sub-titles) falls for Xu Xian, an explorer, and enchants him while in human form. When Xu Xian losses footing and falls into a nearby lake, it is Susu that comes to his rescue. Xu Xian is instantly smitten as a court ship ensues with Susu eventually becoming his wife. As a 100 year old snake, this also presents a problem (as you can imagine). Xu Xian is unaware of his wife’s true form and accidentally stabs her in fear of being eaten, but then is tasked with saving her when he learns the truth. Aided by a talking mouse, Xu Xian heads out to obtain the “spirit root” which in effect also was placed to keep evil spirits contained.

Now if all this is hard to follow, then your in a for a treat, as everything about this film is brimming in visual eye candy and impressive choreography. Fans of fantasy, action and mythology will absolutely love it! More FX kinetics evolve with giant snakes, tidal waves, and the final battles of good vs evil (or rather monsters vs wizards). One thing that struck me odd at times is the swapping of who is presented as good and evil, which really draws a grey line. In the end, its all about survival of the fittest and the protection of tradition.

There is alot of visual wizardry in “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” which includes such dazzling events as a magical sword fight, a range of talking animals, demons, devil bats and magical hands that can ward off tidal waved aquatic attacks.

Recommendations on this fantastic film are a given, though in review I found it to be one of the most inventive new films I’ve seen in years. Presented in bluray form only makes the experience “that” much better for first timers who not only like Asian fantasy, but a whole range of genre associations.

The bluray contains alot of behind the scenes footage with much of Jet Li’s exhausting green screen work to experience in its production stages. The film might confuse some buyers originally announced as “Madame White Snake” before “then” being announced as “It’s Love”. To add to the confusion, it was “then” released by distributors as “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” with its actual title being “The Emperor and the White Snake”. So hint to buyers, if you happen to purchase the same film in different packaging. Though stick with the US bluray from Magnolia for best experience. Now that I’ve rounded up my review, I think I’ll go watch it again!

The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

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