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|Directed by||Tsui Hark|
Ng See Yuen
Lilian Lee (novel)|
|Country||British Hong Kong|
The novel itself is a variation of a Chinese folk tale Madame White Snake, where Lillian Lee tells the story from the perspective of Xiaoqing, the Green Snake, who normally plays a supporting role behind the main character Bai Suzhen, the White Snake. As the title suggests, the movie also features Xiaoqing as the main character.
An overzealous Buddhist monk named Fat-hoi (Vincent Zhao) has trained for 20 years to solely banish demons from the Human World due to his prejudice against spiritual beings seeking to improve themselves. He captures a spider in human form, who has trained for 200 years to be able to reincarnate, and throws him underneathe a gazebo. Fat-hoi is later seen meditating, apparently being haunted by sins of the human mind and is being punished spiritually for his mistake. He eventually releases the Spider spirit.
A storm takes place while Fat-hoi goes into the forest and he attacks two Snake spirits. But after he noticed that they were only preventing rain from hitting a woman giving birth, he also releases them. Again, he is haunted by sins of the human mind, primarily the female body. The two snakes, White Snake (Joey Wong) and Green Snake (Maggie Cheung), are later seen on the rooftop of a festival where Green Snake participates in naked while White Snake eyes a local scholar Hsui Xien (Wu Hsing-Kuo). The two have been training for many centuries to take human form and experience the love, freedom and wisdom that is supposedly only available to humans. White Snake is the more experienced one and proceeds to get engaged to Hsui Xien, with whom she plans to have a child which would complete her passage into the mortal realm; Green Snake is the younger and more impulsive of the two sisters but she is not yet quite convinced of the benefits of the human world. They both move into their magically created house and start a successful medical practice in the town. Other than Hsui Xien's visit, the two gets another visit unexpectedly from a buffoonish Taoist whom Green Snake leaves the household to take care of. Because of White Snake's beautiful charms, Hsui Xien, once known as the toughest and most dedicated scholar of the village, is starting to lose his reputation.
In another heavy storm, a flood ravaged the village. White Snake and Green Snake helps to vanquish the flood and are helped by Fat-hoi, whom they remembered from the forest. After the flood is gone, White Snake and Green Snake tend to the medical needs of the villagers and they've become greatly respected. However, slowly, Green Snake is starting to envy White Snake and is beginning to yearn for the affections of a human, often using Hsui Xien as an experiment. Though caught multiple times, White Snake usually shrugs this off. One day while teaching, Hsui Xien spontaneously comes back to see White Snake but instead sees a large reptilian tail in their bathing room. He escapes and becomes paranoid of the symbolic snake-related objects in the village because of the Dragon Boat Festical. Drunk from gifts from the villagers, White Snake and Green Snake takes advantage and lies to him so it seemed as if he was hallucinating.
Because the festival is near, White Snake pushes Green Snake to leave the village knowing that a special wine consumed only on this day will make Green Snake reveal her true form (due to her inexperience). Green Snake sulks, rebelling to leave because of her envy towards White Snake and Hsui Xien. The night of the festival, White Snake drags an obviously-scared Hsui Xien to drink the special wine together. Hsui Xien instead secretly dumps the wine into their pond where Green Snake consumes it; White Snake was not able to prevent Hsui Xien from seeing Green Snake's true form and he dies from shock. They are interrupted by the Taoist and his two apprentices again, which White Snake disposed of hasily. She decides to go to Kwun Lun Mountain to obtain the Lin-Chi Herb, but because it is guarded by a Holy Crane, Green Snake decides to help out of guilt. Fat-hoi notices their presences and immediately follows them. After obtaining the Lin-Chi Herb, White Snake leaves Green Snake to fight against Fat-hoi but was quickly defeated. To let her go, the monk decided to challenge his own mentality by letting Green Snake distract him in any way while he meditates. When he loses the challenge, Green Snake quickly makes her way back to White Snake. Green Snake tells White Snake of Fat-hoi's challenge, White Snake shrugs her off, leaving Green Snake to assume that her older sister thinks she is inferior. To get a response out of White Snake, she seduces Hsui Xien and the two gets into a fight in which White Snake triumphed. She reveals to Green Snake that she is pregnant and cannot be with her anymore.
Hsui Xien goes to his class to find Fat-hoi and he was given Holy beads to protect himself from evil spirits, but instead tossed it into the river. He arrives at home and pleads for the two to leave while he checks to see if Fat-hoi is near. The monk goes into their home, distills the illusion of a magically-created home, and forcefully takes Hsui Xien from the human/spirit mixed marriage into his religious reeducation camp–styled temple, situated atop a mountain. While Hsui Xien struggles to resist becoming a monk, White Snake appears at the temple and begged for the return of her husband. When Fat-hoi refused, Green Snake joins White Snake and calls the monk on his promise to let them go if he lost the challenge. The two snakes create a flood, attempting to flood the temple but Fat-hoi lifts the entire temple into the air to prevent the catastrophe. When it failed, Fat-hoi tries to suffocate the two with his surplice but again, the two snakes were able to overcome it. White Snake suddenly goes into labor and the flood ran amok towards the village, destroying everything. The baby was then revealed to be a human baby boy and Fat-hoi is in shock but recedes his surplice thereby allowing Green Snake to enter the temple to retrieve Hsui Xien on White Snake's behalf. White Snake, however, is struggling to keep her baby above water when Fat-hoi saves the baby but White Snake dies from a huge incoming debris. Green Snake was able to rescue Hsui Xien from the complete flood of the temple, but after multiple attempts of calling out to White Snake, Green Snake kills Hsui Xien so that he can be with her in the afterlife. Fat-hoi attempts to punish her for her crime but instead acknowledges the fact that he too has led people to their deaths, mainly his fellow monks. After questioning the love that only humans are supposed to know of, Green leaves Fat-hoi to absorb the depth of the catastrophe alone.
Cast and roles
- Ma Cheng-miu
- Maggie Cheung - Green Snake
- Vincent Zhao - Monk Fat-hoi
- Chan Dung-Mooi
- Lau Kong - Blind Monk
- Nagma - Bharata Natyam dancer (as Najma)
- Tien Feng - Spider
- Joey Wong - White Snake
- Wu Hsing-kuo - Hsui Xien