I feel like we’re in between golden ages for martial arts films out of China. While a few good ones have hit in the past decade, the output of pre-changeover Hong Kong dwindled down to the point where there were only occasional memorable fight films. And now the world of martial arts moviemaking is stuck between the eras where practical and very well-practiced wire techniques have been augmented with CG. That CG is, all too often, not very good. Eventually there will be a point where the old fight style and the new CG really work together, and we might get a new golden age of martial arts films. But for now, we’re in between ages.

And so it goes with The Sorcerer and the White Snake, a film starring Jet Li as “an herbalist who falls in love with a thousand-year-old White Snake disguised as a woman.” There’s some great-looking stuff in this trailer, but most of the CG looks cheap and not at all a part of the same existence of the human characters. The film is over a year old — it played Venice in 2011 — but this trailer has been cut slightly for American audiences. Which is to say, there is what sounds like a period Chinese approximation of Inception horns. And even that doesn’t end up sounding very good.

Fans of Jet Li and director Ching Siu-Tung (House of Flying Daggers fight choreographer) will want to check it out regardless.

It’s possible that the film overcomes the ropey CG. Reviews out of Venice weren’t unkind to the movie, with Screen Daily calling it “Breathtaking, beautiful and engagingly bonkers, this super-sleek Chinese fantasy romp is brimming with strange and oddly wonderful moments, and despite its inability to make much sense it is a real guilty pleasure of a film.”

Apple has the trailer. The Sorcerer and the White Snake will hit VOD on January 3 and some theaters on February 8, 2013.

Action director Ching Siu-Tung helms this fantasy film based on an old Chinese legend about an herbalist who falls in love with a thousand-year-old White Snake disguised as a woman. Jet Li stars as a sorcerer who discovers her true identity and battles to save the man’s soul.

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