The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011)
By: Devon B. on May 13, 2013 | Comments
Icon | Region B | 1.78:1, 1080p | Chinese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | 102 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
The Sorcerer and the White Snake Cover Art
Credits
Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Starring: Jet Li, Shengyi Huang, Raymond Lam, Charlene Choi
Screenplay: Charcoal Tan
Country: China, Hong Kong
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
I've had a few rants about subtitle quality on other Wu Xing collection titles Blades of Blood and 14 Blades, so it may be no surprise that when I started The Sorcerer and the White Snake I got annoyed very, very quickly. Trailers for My Kingdom and Flying Swords of Dragon Gate play on start up, and these trailers don't just have little subs, they have the old style duel language subs!!! I might not have minded this before, but after the travesty that is Red Cliff I'm not very tolerant of crappy subs on Blu-rays. When The Sorcerer and the White Snake started, I nearly stopped it in disgust. The subs aren't as small on some other releases, but they're still imbedded, too small and easily lost on lighter backgrounds!

Crappy subs or no, The Sorcerer and the White Snake is pretty tepid stuff. Jet Li is a monk and he and some other monk guy go to Narnia (I think that's where they were) to face an enchantress. This scene is really just to show the monks fight demons. Elsewhere two magic snake women sisters, one of whom is white, watch some people collecting plants. The green snake women kills one of the guys, but the white snake woman saves him then falls in love with him. When the snake women take human form to find the guy, they wind up in the same place where Jet and his friend are chasing demon bats. Not vampires, demon bats. But really they're vampires. Green snake woman takes a fancy to Jet's underling, and the now both snake women are romantically entangled.

Despite one ghostie bit and some vampire demon bats, there's not enough monster mayhem in this movie to make it of interest to horror fans. There's also virtually no kung fu so martial arts aficionados are out of luck, too, and what little fighting there is usually gets embellished by crappy CG magic. In fact, there's a lot of crappy CG in this movie, from the snake women to their CG talking forest creature friends that seem like they're from a Disney movie. The film also has moments that seem to be lifted from Lord of the Rings, which was a dumb thing to do since that movie had good FX, so The Sorcerer and the White Snake looks even worse by comparison.

The film takes far too long setting up its story, and fans of Asian cinema will already know how it's going to end because human and monster unions have always caused strife in the past. While it may well be based on a story that predates Romeo and Juliet, this feel like a fantasy version of that play, and at times feels like a really crap version of The Princess Bride. Jet is not as cool as a monster hunter as Lam Ching-ying was, and there's no avoiding that The Sorcerer and the White Snake pales next to other romance/horror films from China like the A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy.

Unless you're trying to seduce someone that loves tweeny Chinese movies, I can't recommend watching The Sorcerer and the White Snake.
The Disc
Well, the Blu automatically loses points for having forced subs. Aside from that, I'd say this is a tricky film to rate because it appears that to create a fantasy feel some scenes are filtered. When the movie is more based in reality there's a bit more detail, but, for example, the snake women have very smooth features. I wouldn't say that's a flaw of the Blu-ray, but it does prevent the movie from being reference quality. There is also some edge enhancement and the subs flicker a bit.

The music is pretty daft, but the score sounds good, and the fights, falls and exploding creatures are usually well rendered. People who speak Mandarin will be annoyed because they won't be able to turn the English subtitles off.

In addition to the trailers that play on start up, there are also trailers for Bruce Lee My Brother, The Lost Bladesman, Mulan and 14 Blades.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a kid's movie that's more of a romantic tragedy than anything else. Child oriented romance is exactly the sort of thing Digital Retribution readers want, I know, but that doesn't mean I have to pretend to like it. Even if you bizarrely enjoyed this film I beg you to avoid this Blu-ray to hopefully bring Icon to their senses about subtitles.
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