2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Pretty snake(y). Not for the harder core martial arts fan.,
This review is from: The Sorcerer and The White Snake [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
If you were to compare this fantasy asian movie to a similarly themed American release I would put it up against the (much unfairly maligned) film "Van Helsing". If you were a Hugh Jackman "Wolverine" fan and went into "Van Helsing" expecting or hoping to see Jackman portray at least a Wolverinish character you'd probably be a bit disappointed; so too here if you're a Jet Li fan expecting to see the famed Hong Kong actor playing a well-practiced martial artist who is going to show off his martial skills, you're going to be disappointed. Li does play a buddhist monk with martial skills but they generally comprise a lot of his swirling his arms and being catapulted along wires in a fantasy spectacle wherein he hunts a variety of demonic beings who are torturing and killing humans.
The eponymous white snake is one such demon who has fallen in love with a human medicine man and ends up coming into conflict with the unrelenting Li. For the sake of her love for the human she and her sister companion go behemoth Godzilla size as they fight with the protective monks who seek to undo or banish them from the realm of humanity and they unleash calamity upon villages; it's quite a spectacle and the special effects are well done and should please the general western audience who would be into this sort of thing. Like many of the higher quality Hong Kong pictures it is at times exquisitely beautiful but if you're not a fan of eastern (specifically asian) fantasy then a lot of what goes on in the flick might make you groan or scratchy your head in trying to make sense of why some of the behaviors and actions are occurring (one word to cover it all: "magic"); this element, where narrative can be easily thrown out the window, can easily turn off a viewer.
And so it was for me though I am a fan of Li and these types of fantastical fantasy movies (anyone ever see old Saturday afternoon TV fare of "The Magic Serpent"? it's out there and I loved that and this movie is similar in some respects). I love the effects, the cinematography. Li's calm cool charisma doesn't translate so well in this outing, though, and his talents are fairly wasted IMO here. The love story at the heart of the movie is both confusing and oddly compelling and, as in many traditional Chinese yarns, there is a strong element of tragedy here.
Overall this isn't a must for Jet Li fans but should be generally worth it for fantasy fans, especially those people raised on "Avatar" and other such specifically asian cartoons and fantasy. I would recommend the Blu-ray for this release as the colors are really going to pop. 3.75 stars.