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:: The Sorcerer And The White Snake

Based on an ancient Chinese legend that has found its way into opera, theatre and the big screen more than once before, this version of the myth by Hong-Kong martial-arts director Sui-Tung Ching, sees Jet Li playing the central character of the sorcerer - a fighting monk named Reverend Fahai - on a mission to rid the world of demons. For most of the story he’s up against the female White Snake (Eva Huang) who has taken human form and fallen in love with a mortal. Tsk, Tsk.

Opening with a distinctively engaging computer-game style, we follow the snake sisters (White and Green) as they playfully enchant some hapless men, White Snake saving a handsome herbalist from drowning with an underwater kiss that unites their “vital essence”. From there it’s two lovers trying hard to do be together while Rev. Fahai acts the party-pooper, reminding White Snake that it’s just not meant to be: demons are demons, men are men, and inter-species exchanges of vital essence are not about to happen on his watch, no! However, with White Snake not only beautiful, devoted to her man, generous (she sacrifices more of her vital essence to save a village from disease) and positively sparkling company, there’s not much sympathy for poor old Fahia working hard against the intention to position his character as all round good guy.

The acting is appallingly melodramatic, particularly when it comes to the sub-plot romance of Green Snake (Charlene Choi) and Neng Ren (Wen Zhang) the young disciple of Fahia who slowly turns into a bat. The martial arts sequences are disappointing, mainly overwhelmed by unconvincing CGI, and Jet Li fans should probably wait for his next outing.

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