“The SORCERER and the WHITE SNAKE” 白蛇传说 Film Review. JET LI versus COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGERY.
“The SORCERER and the WHITE SNAKE” 白蛇传说 PRESS PREVIEW
I’ve long learnt that, to thrive in this fickle entertainment industry, never ever say “NEVER”.
Because things can screech to an abrupt turnaround, and you’ll soon be biting your own tongue.
You’ve got to salute though, a sprinkle of “noble” Asian actors who are able to swear that they are giving up something for a worthy cause, and thence change their mind within a blink of an eye.
JET LI announced half a decade ago after his last wuxia box office success “FEARLESS” that he was quitting action flicks for good as his age was catching up. He was leaving the fights to the younger guys.
That was a grand departure, albeit a generous gesture.
Hence DONNIE YEN was re-born.
Well, that was then.
He has since changed his mind.
Is money the prime motivator to lure him back?
The real answer lies with him.
“THE SORCERER and the WHITE SNAKE” is derived from a done-to-death ancient Chinese folklore about a beautiful female demon (EVA HUANG) who falls in love and consumates conjugal bliss with a naive mortal (RAYMOND LAM).
You might well be wondering what JET LI is doing in this absurd fairy tale that also harbors talking animals.
He plays the REVEREND FAHAI and is supposed to astound us with his awesome fight moves and stunts.
This is apparently not so.
JET LI plods through the entire movie by looking positively middle-aged, grimacing and spouting irksome Chinese proverbs. He also performs the Buddhist ‘wai’ and does the occasional leap in mid-air whenever he “senses” an apparition is lurking nearby. In the end, he probably has his hands full, after capturing so many ferocious animated creatures and locking them away in a faraway cave.
Here’s the obvious reason.
The REEL HERO is the computer wizardry – the generous display of the latest gimmicks in CGI and the preposterous action stunts that’ll leave you gaping if you are looking forward to enjoying a real movie and not some super duper computer game.
The Westerners may find all these antics charming, not so the Asians who have gone through countless versions of the White Snake and this one looks like it’s going to strike a death knell any time.
A visually lavish epic fantasy it may be, one that happily marries the latest advances in CGI and spectacular wired action techniques.
But the movie is screwed with a wimpish weak script dressed with corny lines and even cornier performances from all the players, thanks to CHING SIU-TUNG, the film director who’s totally dependent on the monstrous effects to enthrall, rather than paying equal emphasis to the acting.
Poor JET LI. It is definitely not a justifiable welcome-back vehicle for him.
He is deserving of more respect than this.
The film has almost every frame crammed with not-so- stylized visual effects. Sadly, for a trademark JET LI action genre, it is yet to have a single compelling action sequence.
The fights are lack luster, so to speak.
Bordering little on either the traditional style sword play or hand-to-elbow kung fu moves, this one struts instead, the 1950s Cantonese movie action such as the waving of hands to channel the power of the defense forces to overcome the enemy.
There’s a stellar cast of EVA HUANG, RAYMOND LAM, CHARLENE CHOI, VIVIAN HSU and so on.
For fans of the stars and avid lovers of the CGI, this one’s for you.