I watched 2 chinese mythical productions recently. One is a well-known chinese folklore on the legendary Madam White Snake and the other is a complete unknown to me. But both stories revolve around the theme of love.
I had high expectations of the former, which is yet another interpretation of the love relationship between a thousand year old white snake demon and a man. The Buddhist monk is a staunch religious character who sets himself out on a quest to catch and imprison human harming demons. Typically, monks are supposedly good and demons bad, but the earlier movies usually tell the tale of how things are not always what they seemed. In these movies, the snake demon is often portrayed as being more magnanimous and has more empathy in her heart than the stubborn, inflexible and unreasonable religious leader. Therein lies the popularity of this good demons vs bad monk story.
However, this adaptation starring Jet Li, Eva Huang, Raymond Lam, Vivian Hsu, Charlene Choi etc, turned the tables around to show a benevolent monk, who questions the righteousness of his actions to vanquish demons, and a more self-centered demon, who was only out to save her man with nary a care for other beings. There was little or no on-screen chemistry between Raymond and Eva. Their love was so shallow and was not really built on strong foundations. On the other hand, the monk played by Jet Li has a stronger conscience and had doubts whether he was doing the right thing by separating the couple. Overall, I was disappointed by this makeover because it did not show the depth of the love between a demon and a mortal being, but was more focused on going back to reinforce the notion that monks are good and demons are bad.
There were a lot of CGI effects and the scene I was really looking forward to was the flooding of the temple on the mountain. Anyway, I love the forever youthful looking Vivian Hsu but was again disappointed that her role in this movie as the Snow Demon was so transient. However, I cannot deny that she is still so pretty.
The second movie starring the real life married couple Deng Chao and Sun Li was surreal and contains lots of CGI effects of heaven. It tells the story of a scholar who was transfixed by a mural on a temple wall and was transported into the fantasy world of heavenly maidens or fairies, ruled by a queen spurned by love. In the heaven realm where no men is allowed to live, except only to marry the fairies and make them conceive before they are killed off, the scholar encountered a series of lovelorn maidens who fell in love with him and revolted against the tyrannous queen in the name of love.
There were few actors and actresses and I love the use of colours in this movie. The fairy maidens were dressed in various vibrant colours and there were actually quite a number of young pretty ones who resembled established movie actresses.
Comparing the two, I was more thrilled by the latter because at least the story was original.