Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)

Movie time.  I accidentally posted an unfinished version the order day so that means I should hurry it up and get it done!

Based on the folklore Legend of the White Snake

The Sorcerer and the White Snake, previously known as, It's Love and Madame White Snake

Jet Li, Huang (Eva) Shengyi, Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi, Wen Zhang
Vivian Hsu (cameo)

Some awesome actors here for an equally awesome story.  The origin of the story had morphed throughout the ages.  Originally a cautionary horror story, it became a romance as well as a bit of religious teachings about compassion vs. vanity.  It was a story people would tell their kids growing up and part of it was tied to the Duanwu Festival, which was usually when we get to hear these stories as kids. :D

In one aspect of Chinese folklore and mythology, all living creatures including animals and plant were able to meditate and  do good in life to reach a form of enlightenment.  As such, they were able to turn into a human figure and after a thousand + years would move into the heavenly realm.  Rather than having to be reborn over and over again, many creatures chose this route, which was what the White Snake did.

Depending on the various versions, the origins and meetings change, but the basic story followed how White Snake, owed a life debt to the Herbalist.  She turn into a human (in some versions given a human essences by Guan Yin) and married the Herbalist. They lived together and had a son. 
With her was a Green Snake, a younger snake with 500 years less experience, whose role varies, but in all stayed with the White Snake.
The Buddhist monk, being a monk, wanted to maintain the orders of the world and banish what he considered evil creatures.  Again, depending on the version, various things happen, due to a battle where the White Snake flooded an entire area/temple/mountain and as partial punishment, the White Snake was trapped under a pagoda.  Twenty years later, her son came to free her (filial duty), but this was usually a sequel to the story.

This was one of my favorite childhood stories.  I've watched so many of the movies and tv series and loved every single adaption. >_<

Here's a trailer, but it does have spoilers.  Everything has spoilers. Hahaha.

This version was very visually beautiful, although certain parts of the CGI could've been toned down.  It was also heavier on the Monk, which leads me to my first gripe.  Look, the guy's a monk.  He was an abbot of a Buddhist temple, so which awesome (and by awesome I mean idiot) person decided to change it to a Sorcerer in the title?  What part of a religious figure became a magic user?  Yes, I know Jet Li was awesome and very attractive, but he's a monk in the story.  Get over it.  Everything about this movie had a bit of buddhist religion inlay... Also, this wasn't about angels and demons.  It's Chinese mythology, so it's really okay to use the terms. That aside, they also shortened the story a lot, which was perfectly understandable given that it was a movie. 

Added to the cast was an assistant monk called Neng Ren played by Wen Zhang, another awesome actor.  He and Jet Li had been in a few films together and if you want a really really brilliant and heart-wrenching film, watch Ocean Heaven.  Omg, tears abound.  Jet Li also didn't take any pay to make the film... anyways, that's another review.  Back to this movie...

Charlene Choi played Qing Qing, the green snake.  She was so adorable in this movie and her interactions with Wen Zhang were the more comedic parts in film.  Their relationship was also a good contrast to the main romance of Susu and Xu Sian.

Eva Huang played Bai Susu, the white snake and Raymond Lam played Xu Xian, the herbalist.  They really were a very cute couple.  I kind of wished they spent more time developing their romance, but again, movie time limits.  They cut out some of the more expanded story though.

Vivian Hsu only had a cameo in the beginning but that was super fun to watch.  It also set up some of the common theme for this type of stories.  These supposed "demons" tend to love very deeply and devotedly, whereas humans were fickle.  Yet, as the mythical creatures worked towards better energy and to move beyond this world, they must also forgo many of the common emotions (such as love) that were never originally a part of their nature.  That love was a human temptation, etc. etc.  It's not really super developed in this version on the movie.  Even the love between Susu and Xu Xian was rather limited in terms of development.  A more, insta-love/fated feeling. 

Overall, I enjoyed the retelling.  It showed there were good animal spirits and bad ones.  The conflict wasn't as explicit though and it kind of depended on the audience to at least have some idea of the story...which made sense.  This movie was geared towards people that mostly grew up with the stories and mythos.  There were deeper stories and morals, but it wasn't pounded in so could be somewhat ignored.  The end and music was so good I sniffed, then re-listened to the music for quite some time. 

The fighting scenes were pretty cool and utilized a lot of CGI.  Even though some parts seemed fake, for the most part the scenery were very magical, letting the world be magical.  The use of props and lightening helped emphasized the various worlds they inhibited.  The beginning was completely out of this world, to world of the spirits/vixen all dreamy and peaceful.  When the Susu and Xu Xian lived together, it used a lot of natural isolation to illuminate a world just for them.  Basically, I liked. Lol.

A movie with some problems, but easily overlooked with the enjoyment of the actors and storyline.
Watch when you have time. :)

MV of the main song Karaoke style! :D  

I even looked up the history of this story, but it's only in Chinese.


  1. Haven't seen this movie, although this is quite a solid cast. The thing though is that if you're going to have Jet Li in the movie, you know for sure that he's going to be the main attraction of it... kind of sad though because I mean, he's a monk ^_^; How interesting can his part be?

    My first reaction when I saw Eva Huang as the White Snake is that she didn't look mature enough LOL. However, from the trailer, it seemed she pulled it off :)

  2. Lol, you're right. Jet Li tends to be the main cast. Granted, it also worked in the story since Fahai was sort of the antagonist. I just totally didn't get the title change. In most places the title was "It's Love" for the English title, cuz that's what it's about. If they were going to change it, it should've been "The Abbot/Monk and the White Snake." I really have no idea how Sorcerer even got in the mix. Lol.

    I kind of agree. Eva Huang pulled it off very well. She's a very nice actress and I got into a lot of her films. A lot of her roles were pretty tragic though, Lol.

  3. OMG! I LOVED THIS MOVIE! Please tell me there's a sequel?!