Name: Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (2015)
Genres: Fantasy Origins: Mainland China
Cast: Chen Kun as Zhong Kui/Demon King, Li Bingbing as Snow Demon/Little Snow, Winston Chao as Zhang Dao Xian, Zishan Yang as Zhong Ling (Kui's sister).
Directed by: Peter Pau, Tianyu Zhao. Written by: Chen Kun, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao.
The Three Acts:
Initial Tableau: Every 1000 years at July 15, a period of travel among Hell, Heaven, and Earth ensues, where travel is done by reincarnation. Devastation results as demons reincarnate near the village of Hu on Earth. The powers that be in Heaven dispatch a volunteer, Zhang Dao Xian, to help out the humans caught in the crossfire. Zhong Kui steals the 'Dark Crystal' from an active ceremony in Hell itself, and is spirited away by Zhang, one of the gods. The Snow Demon volunteers to the Demon King to fetch back the crystal. Her sister, Little Snow, is being held captive by the King, so her compliance is assured.
Delineation of Conflicts: Snow Demon wants the crystal for her King. Heaven wants to keep it, so as to restore all the souls taken by demons. Zhong Kui is assigned to protect the Dark Crystal as it lies hidden within Hu. When a traveling troupe of entertainers arrives from the west, Zhong finds that Little Snow came with it. Can Zhong help free Little Snow from Hell, or will she seduce him away from his primary duty to Heaven? Will he successfully defend the Dark Crystal and the captured souls within it?
Resolution: There are some major reversals during the final segment as resolution approaches. Those were quite well done.
One line summary: Grand fantasy, Chinese style, from the video game of the same name.
Cinematography: 8/10 Variable. Most of it is quite good.
Sound: 8/10 Some instrumental sections of the background music are way too florid for my tastes.
Acting: 7/10 Again, quite variable. Some of the bit players are not very skilled.
Screenplay: 7/10 Being a fantasy involving three realms, the film has to deliver a lot of context in a short time. I watched this on Netflix, and was glad to be able to roll back and clarify points now and then.
SFX: 7/10 Quite variable. Some of the effects are amateurishly bad. The majority look mature and impressive.
Final Rating: 7/10