This is a post that is a repurposing of an old-school Mini-Review Round-Up post. As stated here I am essentially done with running multi-film review posts. Each film deserves its own review. Therefore I will repost, and at times add to, old reviews periodically. Enjoy!
The Sorcerer and the White Snake
Eventually this film does figure out where its going, and in essence what it wants to be, but its biggest struggle is in the build up. There are parallel story threads that have to join but also there are combative, jarring techniques, and dueling tones that never really find a harmonious balance. Juggling tone is one of the hardest things for a film to do. When a film is doing that and also juggling approaches for much of the first half it can be virtually insurmountable.
When the film settles on what its main narrative thrust will be, oddly enough, is when the pace starts to suffer. The climactic showdown is seemingly never-ending and a full-out assault of the substandard visual effects work we had just gotten the occasional taste of for the first hour of the film. Granted DVD is less forgiving than celluloid, but with many titles shot and projected digitally, films are less and less forgiving and this hits you with its effects work and it hurts.
However, as indicated above, the effects work isn’t the main issue. The fact that the narrative is based on a Chinese legend is also granted. So it’s not what happens in the film that’s the issue as how it happens. It’s the kind of story that may have been more impressive animated when you take into account how certain things were handled in live action from the stuntwork, to prosthetics, acting, dialogue and so forth.
Oddly enough while the film is still patchwork is when its most successful. When it finds its narrative focus all its deficiencies come into focus as well and there are many.