Luckily, it’s the kind of family film that parents won’t equate to a chore. Li is a monk who specializes as a demon hunter, but the film’s focus is on Xu Xian (Raymond Lam), a young herbalist saved from drowning by the kiss of a thousand-year-old snake demon (Eva Huang, Kung Fu Hustle). She’s able to take the form of a beautiful woman, so naturally, Xu Xian falls in love with her, and vice versa.
The problem is in doing so, life forces are being drained, and if you aren’t around to live, what good is love?
The Sorcerer and the White Snake is an outright Asian fairy tale of a fantasy. I don’t know if it is based on actual folklore, but such news wouldn’t faze me. Director Ching Siu Tung (who helmed previous Li vehicles The Legend of the Swordsman and Dr. Wai in the Scriptures with No Words) tells a pleasant story with a painterly sense of good-natured passion, but the downside to crafting a fantasy world is falling into an over-reliance on computer imagery.
And that’s exactly what the film does in its final third, to the point that ultimately, the effects overwhelm everything else. By the time Li is fighting a giant snake from within the throat of said giant snake, I was more than ready for the “happily ever after” to bring the exercise to an end. —Rod Lott