Review: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)


“No gelflings here, bro.”

Starring Li Bingbing, Chen Ku, Winston Chao

As many of you know, I’m not the biggest fan of wuxia films. I mostly prefer my martial arts films like my phones: Wireless.  Having said that, there is fascinating thing going on with those films: they are becoming a giant special effects extravaganza, not unlike many superhero films today. So how does Snow Girl fare given this new light?

In a word, I’m still not really impressed. Maybe even less so than I was of the genre before.

Snow Girl tells the story of Zhang Kui (Chen Ku), protector of the town of Hu, and is tasked by a Lord of Heaven, Daioxin,  to steal the Dark Crystal, a vessel from Hell that has imprisoned the souls of the populace and may cause the end of the world if activated. Zhang succeeds, causing the Demon King to unleash the Snow Girl to get it back. To prepare Zhang to defeat the Snow Girl Daioxin trains Zhang to harness his energy to turn himself into a powerful creature. Of course the moment Zhang meets the Snow Girl everything becomes much, much more complicated…

The story has moments where I was engaged, but by the third act I knew what was going to happen, and there were some dull stretches here and there. The acting in the film is pretty good, and Li Bing Bing does some particularly good work here, but the effects are the real star of the film, and unfortunately that’s a mixed bag. Most of it is really good, but the moments where we have CG monsters fighting made me feel like I was watching a video game being played, and I immediately checked out of the film during these really LONG sequences. It doesn’t help that the CG animation looks exactly like that, and not realistic at all. The final fight ends with one of those “so if the hero could do this the whole time then WHY DIDN’T HE?”. This is, for me at least, the most irritating kind of climactic finish.

The martial arts are kept on the down low here, except for one brief fight toward the end, which is nothing to write home about but adequate. It really could have used more of this and less of the CG monster fights. The ending of the film is jarring, as I didn’t really understand what Zhang was doing at the end and what it meant.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5

I’ve seen way better Wuxia films, and this one was definitely mediocre. I’d rather revisit Zu, Warriors from Magic Mountain, or the Storm Riders.

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