The Sorcerer and the White Snake

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Sorcerer and the White Snake Movie Poster Image
Beautiful martial arts fantasy with scary imagery, violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although it's mostly too over-the-top as a martial arts fantasy to have much in the way of positive messages, the transformative powers of love are shown through discussion and action as the movie progresses.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Xu Xian will do anything to rescue his wife, even after he has learned the truth about her.


Frequent martial arts-style violence. Characters fight with swords and knives. Characters do battle with ferocious-looking demons, including a nightmarish bat-demon that sends thousands of bats to do battle with a man. A demon is shown being stabbed in the neck. A man who knows he's on the verge of turning into a demon is shown trying to hang himself with a rope.


Early in the movie, two snake-women -- with human bodies above the waist and snake bodies below the waist -- are shown caressing each other and holding each other close. There also are kissing scenes between a man and a woman.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Sorcerer and the White Snake is a 2011 Chinese film about an herbalist who falls in love with a woman whom he does not realize is actually a 1,000-year-old snake-demon and tries to save her as a master Buddhist monk tries to send her back to the demon world, thus righting the balance of the universe. There is frequent martial arts-style violence throughout the film -- characters do battle with swords and knives, and, in one instance, send thousands of bats at a character -- but what is most troubling for younger or more sensitive viewers is the nightmarish imagery throughout the film. Demon images -- bat-demons and snake-demons, for instance -- frequently appear, and in one scene the monk does battle in a hellish landscape of lakes of fire and spewing lava. Also, early in the film, two beautiful snake-women are shown very close to one another, holding one another in a provocative manner. This is an excellent film that is best for teens and older.

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What's the story?

Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) is an aspiring herbalist who wants to one day make medicines that cure illnesses. While picking herbs and flowers on a mountain, he is spotted by a thousand-year-old snake-demon (Shengyi Huang) who assumes human form as a beautiful woman. She falls in love with Xu Xian, follows him to his village, and wins his heart. This catches the attention of Abbot Fahai (Jet Li), who must prove to Xu Xian that the woman he loves is actually a snake-demon and must be cast out of the human realm to right the balance of the universe. But Xu Xian does not give up easily and will stop at nothing until he can find a way to try to rescue the woman he loves from her fate.

Is it any good?

THE SORCERER AND THE WHITE SNAKE is a beautifully shot martial arts fantasy movie with vibrant colors and nonstop action. The special effects are breathtaking, and so are the fight sequences. Although some aspects of the story might be lost on American audiences, the final result is a wholly unique and imaginative tale that is as unforgettable as it is dazzling.

Although it's thoroughly entertaining, the nightmarish images of evil demons and hellish landscapes make this one to avoid for younger or sensitive kids. However, for teens and older -- especially those who are fans of fantasy and martial arts movies -- The Sorcerer and the White Snake should emerge as one of the better movies of the genres due to its lavish production, romantic story line, and innovative action sequences.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about martial arts movies. How is this movie similar to and different from other martial arts movies?

  • How are fantasy elements employed in this movie?

  • Was the violence necessary to the story, or could the movie have been just as engaging without it?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love foreign films and fantasy

Themes & Topics

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