Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Legend of the Tsunami Warrior (2008) has got a little something for everyone - Thai martial arts for the fight fans, and pirates for everyone else.

The story takes place in a long-ago Thai kingdom by the sea. There's are sea gypsies, sea pirates, and a whole underwater kung fu science taught by manta rays, one wise and good, and the other evil and mad! The queen and princesses live behind an enormous CGI wall at the beach. This is the spot of a great CGI batle. You know, I like these CGI sea-battles, like you see in Red Cliff, or Pirates of the Caribbean. They were my favorite part of Troy. But especially, I love these Asian fantasies in general, the more far-out, the better - Like Zu Warriors.

Case in point: I just watched The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011), (hat-tip to Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee) and it really hit the spot.

It stars Jet Li, but it doesn't really star Jet Li. He plays the demon-hunting monk Fahai. With his bumbling sidekick Neng Ren, he travels the land, imprisoning demons in his temple (= fun CGI!). He meets up with Xu Xian, an herbalist, who is about to drown when the White Snake demon saves his life with a kiss. (Note the common underwater theme between this and Tsunami Warrior. Not that it means anything, just makes a better double bill.)

It seems that the story of White Snake, her human lover, her sister Green Snake and the monk who won't let the demons be is a Chinese classic. I've seen one other version, Green Snake, with Maggie Cheung as Green Snake. I think there's a ballet on the theme playing in San Francisco now.

In this version, the beautiful, devoted White Snake is Eva Huang, and her slightly more evil sister Green Snake is Charlene Choi. Both are lovely, either as human women or women with long CGI snake bodies. But I think sister  Green gets to have a little more fun with the role.

I should mention the little cartoon pets the sisters have, including a very nice little mouse.

But my favorite part was how Buddhist the movie is. Jet Li does battle against demons with deep stillness, meditation and truth. Demons, after all, are creatures of illusion and error, and can be dispelled by insight. Oh, sure, he kicks butt when he has to, but it is never as effective as stillness. As a Buddhist, I don't mind Christian imagery, but it doesn't thrill me the way seeing Jet Li (looking fabulous) polishing the mirror to dispel ignorance.

The theme of love conquering all is very sweet as well. If I may add a SPOILER, Neng Ren gets bitten by a demon, and turns into one himself. But he still can love. And White Snake is very true to her poor human lover, to the point where she is willing to die for him - but not to give him up.

On a sidenote: Rod Heath at Ferdy on Film writes about Chinese Ghost Story I and II. They look right up my alley.

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