The Sorcerer and the White Snake - SideReel Review
A wonderful big-budget fantasy adventure awaits audiences with The Sorcerer and the White Snake, the latest kung fu epic from star Jet Li and his legendary Swordsman II director, Tony Ching Siu-Tung. Humor, romance, talking animals, and wild, fantastical fighting are all on display here, with Li taking center stage as an elder monk caught up in a love affair between herbalist Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) and the White Snake (Eva Huang), who falls for the human after her fellow demon Green Snake (Charlene Choi) almost kills him.
The film’s universe is one where humans and ghouls coexist on the same Earth, even if they are from different dimensions. A monk named Fa Hai (Li) acts as a sort of Ghostbuster, hunting down and trapping demons until they find peace with the ills they have done. When his right-hand man Neng Ren (Zhang Wen in a standout comic performance) is bitten by a bat demon, Hai’s world begins to turn upside down. As a plague of monster-related incidents wreak havoc on his land, the monk learns that the doctor in town (Lam) is married to a demon, which spurs a fight to keep the two species separate -- one that will test Hai’s prejudice against human/demon love.
The plot description hints at how out there and steeped in Asian myths the film is, though it doesn’t begin to touch how offbeat it is. Once a rabbit, a mouse, and a turtle show up onscreen and start talking, it’s game on for absurdity. Yet there’s still a poetic voice guiding the movie, which is quite rich and picturesque. Underlying it all is a tragic romance that spurs the drama, with no tangible villain in sight save for the few monsters that show up (including a bat demon that Li fights in a stellar sequence set in a volcano!). The end might push the cheesy love elements a bit too much, but it by no means lessens how fun the rest of the picture is.