Constant violence in overlong action fantasy.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Green Snake is a 2021 Chinese animated fantasy action/adventure movie in which a young woman gets trapped in a dystopian city while trying to rescue her sister. The violence is constant from the beginning to almost the very end. Characters fight with rifles, guns, swords, spells, maces, knives, punches, kicks. Characters are clubbed, shot, stabbed to death. A villain pulls a knife on one of the female lead characters, implies sexual demands. One of the villains wears short shorts, giggles flirtatiously, and carries a smoking opium pipe, from which she sometimes takes puffs. When not fighting, the characters are most likely in vehicle chases. Besides the violent content, the movie's long length (almost two hours and 15 minutes) makes this best enjoyed by older teens and adults. Some bathroom humor -- a demon passes gas. The movie is also known as White Snake 2: The Tribulation of the Green Snake, and while it's technically a sequel, the epic story can be more or less followed.
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What's the Story?
In GREEN SNAKE, Verta and Blanca are two demon snake-sisters trying to destroy an island. Their plan is thwarted by their nemesis, the monk Fahai, who defeats Blanca and sends her to another realm. Verta is determined to reunite with her, and ends up in a dystopian city called Asuraville, where monstrous Ox-Heads and Horse Faces ride motorcycles and wreak havoc on the humans struggling to survive there. After being saved by a woman named Sun and a mysterious masked figure who quickly disappears after saving Verta's life, Sun gives Verta a guided tour of this hellscape of a city, taking her to a building where humans and other beasties try to hide from the Ox-Heads and Horse Faces. The group inside the building is led by Simon, a devil-may-care rebel who spends as much time with the ladies and breaking up the fights among themselves as he does trying to protect them from the monsters. There are also winged creatures named Rakshas, and when the monsters attack and Sun is killed, Verta decides to join up with Simon. Meanwhile, as the mystery person who initially saved Verta hovers around the scenes, Simon takes Verta to meet Baoqing, who runs a store and who Simon claims is able to get Verta out of this realm. Baoqing tells Verta that Asuraville is a city populated by people who are unable to let go of their resentments, and the only way they can leave the realm is by letting go of their resentments and bad memories. As the monsters take control of Asuraville, Verta learns what she believes is the true identity of the mystery person who saved her, as she tries to determine Baoqing's true motives and find a way to return to the realm she calls home.
Is It Any Good?
The film has great animation, constant violence, and a complicated story. Green Snake is a Chinese fantasy/action/adventure that tries to combine the mysticism of fantasy, the action and chaos of dystopian sci-fi, and the melodrama of anime. It tries to do too much, and as it pushes the two-hour-and-15-minute mark, the result is a movie that's excessive and needlessly complicated. Right when you're starting to get a fix on what's happening, there's another vehicle chase, fight sequence, or introduction to a new bevy of monsters trying to kill the heroes and heroines. The characters themselves come across as being written by someone whose sole exposure to dialogue is limited to Michael Bay movies and The Fast and Furious franchise.
In spite of the chaos of the story, the action sequences and the intricate animation in these sequences are quite good. There are some who will like this movie based solely on the level of detail in these scenes of battle and vehicle chases. There's a big budget here, and they made the most of it. Unfortunately, the big budget can't rescue this discordant clash of genres. The movie falls short of the ambitions it clearly has of being an epic action movie in the tradition of other epic action movies of the recent past. If anything, this proves the truth in the architect Mies Van Der Rohe's axiom that "less is more."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about action movies like Green Snake. How is this similar to and different from other action movies you've seen?
Was the violence necessary for the story, or did it seem excessive? Why?
In recent years and decades, women have featured more prominently in action movies. How do women emerge as the main heroines and villains in this movie? What are some other examples of action movies where women are the lead characters?
- In theaters: December 1, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: January 26, 2022
- Cast: Xiaoxi Tang, Zhang Fuzheng, Zhongyang Baomu
- Director: Amp Wong
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 131 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
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