Dir: Wang Qing
Star: Wang Zhao, Ma Qian Qian, Wang Yabin, Fang Ziyi
This fails miserably, on just about every level. The main one would be a disappointing lack of python, not least of the aquatic variety promised by the title. It begins with an attack on a ship, to be sure, after researchers drag an egg up from the depths. But thereafter, all the snakes seen are resolutely confined to dry land, and are precious few in their appearances. Outside of a night-time attack, which might as well be carried out by wildebeest, koalas or stick insects, the only excessively large reptile seen, is in the final fifteen minutes. It would be a stretch to say it’s worth the wait either, being strictly generic in both form and function.
The rest of the script is perhaps less inspired still. Many of these films take one of two approaches. Either it’s an evil industrialist seeking something for personal gain, or somebody organizes an expedition in search of a lost relative, who vanished years previously. This one hedges its bets, and gives us both, thereby guaranteeing that it is unable to do justice to either. Most of the effort goes into the second thread. Dodgy fisherman Chen Yue (Wang) is hired to take travel journalist Zhong Ming (Ma) to the “lost” Senna Island, along with her sidekick, Summer Lotus, and his, who is simply called “fat person”. Not even capitalized. This is what passes for depth of character, though we were slightly amused by Chen’s use of chancla-fu.
On the way there, the boat is wrecked in a storm – but everybody gets washed up on the shore of… what are the odds, Senna Island. While wandering around, they bump into the human nemesis, who has been seeking a replacement for the egg he lost in the prologue, sixteen years ago. There’s a wild man also roaming the island, and to absolutely nobody’s surprise, he turns out to be Zhong’s long lost father. More wandering around follows, as well as some excruciatingly unamusing toilet humour, in which the only way to extricate someone from a perilous situation is to pee on them. It’s every bit as funny as it sounds, which would be “not at all.”
There’s precious little to add. Zhong is the spitting image of Chen’s ex-girlfriend, so you know there’s going to be run of the mill romantic chemistry between them. People eventually get eaten, mostly the bad ones. And there is a moment of heroic sacrifice at the end, which Chris correctly called from almost the moment the person in question showed up. It’s all woefully predictable, and offers nothing you haven’t seen before, typically done considerably better. It almost feels as if this was just a generic jungle exploration film, that was suddenly transformed into a Chinese Animal Attack movie in post-production. This would have involved little more than the splicing in of some reject effects, scraped from the cutting-room floor of another, considerably better movie.
This review is part of our feature, When Chinese Animals Attack.