Sorcerer and the White Snake, The (Bai she chuan shuo) (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 22-Feb-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
System Setup
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 102:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Siu-Tung Ching
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Jet Li
Shengyi Huang
Raymond Lam
Charlene Choi
Zhang Wen
Vivian Hsu
Miriam Yeung Chin Wah
Kar-Ying Law
Suet Lam
Chapman To
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Mark Lui


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan Chinese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Long time readers of this site will know that I enjoy lots of Asian cinema from Chinese action epics to Japanese animation to Hong Kong martial arts. Accordingly, I am predisposed to enjoy Chinese films with an action or fantasy bent. With little knowledge of this film, other than the presence of Jet Li, I sat down to watch it without much preconception. It is a slightly odd amalgam of romance, supernatural fantasy, comedy and action film. It is visually impressive and entertaining film if you can get past the oddball style, which will alienate some. This is certainly not a film for fans of Jet Li's martial arts based films. The action is more in the form of CGI based throwing of spells with major effects on the surrounding landscapes rather than hard core fights with fists or swords. There are floods, earthquakes, destroying of temples and much more besides.

     Anyway, the plot involves Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) a young herbalist who wants to become a doctor. One day while hunting for herbs in the mountains with his friends, he is watched by two female demons (but not in the really evil sense) who are naturally large snakes. They can also take semi-human and human form, either as beautiful women with the bodies of snakes (a la mermaids) or just a beautiful women. They are sisters called Susu (Eva Huang) and QingQing. QingQing is the more self-centred of the two and she decides to scare Xu Xian. He falls into a lake and is rescued by Susu in human form who kisses him thus saving his life by passing some of her life essence to him. He falls in love with her and decides to ask her family for her hand in marriage, without knowing she is a demon in human form. Meanwhile, Master Fahai (Jet Li), a monk, is hunting demons with his offsider, Neng Ren. He starts to investigate the goings-on around Xu Xian and Susu and quickly discovers her secret. He tells her she must leave Xu Xian or he will destroy her. Obviously, her love for Xu Xian drives her to stay and a battle for the soul of Xu Xian begins. Will the lovers be torn apart by the crusading monk? Will the whole area be destroyed by the fighting?

     There is lots of CGI in this film and your level of tolerance for it driving most of the action will probably determine your enjoyment of this film, assuming the plot outline interests you. There are certainly some impressive visuals in this film, with some action sequences of very large scope including waves crashing over mountains like 2012, bamboo forest fights like House of the Flying Daggers and much more. There is so much going on that the film sometimes feels like the aim is to throw as many effects at the screen as possible rather than tell a story. Jet Li does his job well, restricted as it is and the rest of the cast is pretty good too. The film was directed by veteran action director from Hong Kong, Ching Su-Tung probably best known for his work on films like House of the Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower and Hero.

     In summary, if the plot and style interests you, this film is certainly worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is generally excellent but at the wrong aspect ratio. The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is not the original aspect ratio. The original ratio is 2.35:1. I didn't strike me as being cropped while I was watching it but it certainly would make sense to be in 2.35:1. It is 1080p encoded using AVC.

     The picture was very clear and sharp throughout. The shadow detail was excellent. The colour was also excellent, bright and vivid throughout, which is in keeping with the over the top style of the film. Landscapes, flowers and other effects burst off the screen in a blaze of colour. Occasionally, faces seemed a little over bright.

     There were no obvious artefacts.

     There are subtitles available in English. They are a little smaller than I would like and too often disappear into the background of the scene. They are burned into the print.

     There are no obvious layer changes during playback.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The audio quality is excellent. This disc contains the original Chinese soundtrack in DTS HD-MA 5.1.

     Dialogue seemed clear and easy to hear and understand, although I am not a Chinese speaker.

     The music by Mark Lui is generally suitable but occasionally becomes intrusive and somewhat over the top, but I suppose that is in keeping with the film stylistically.

     The surround speakers were used a lot for fight scenes, natural disasters, music, voices and a myriad of other effects. Great stuff. The subwoofer was also used constantly to support explosions, fight scenes, falling buildings and more.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Pretty barren extras cupboard.

Menu

     The menu included sounds and pictures from the film. It was preceded by trailers.

DTS-HD MA Soundcheck

     A set of sound tests are available in both 5.1 and 7.1 variants.

Other Trailers

     Trailers for other films.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is a Region A (Hong Kong) version of this film on Blu-ray which seems to be in the correct aspect ratio, includes a 7.1 soundtrack and some extras. According to YesAsia it also includes English subtitles. This would be the best version based on these improvements.

Summary

     An entertaining but slightly odd combination of action, romance, comedy and supernatural themes.

     The video quality is excellent. The audio quality is very good.

     The extras are non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Horrible, horrible film -