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1. ("Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal", Wikipedia):
"Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal (Chinese: 钟馗伏魔：雪妖魔灵) is a 2015 Chinese-Hong Kong-United States 3D fantasy action adventure film directed by Peter Pau and Zhao Tianyu and starring Chen Kun, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao, Yang Zishan, Bao Bei'er, and Jike Junyi. Production began on February 16, 2014. The film was released on February 19, 2015."
2. The script of the movie is based on the mythological figure Zhong Kui ("钟馗") of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE).
("Zhong Kui", Wikipedia):
"Zhong Kui (Chinese: 鍾馗; pinyin: Zhōng Kuí; Wade-Giles: Chung Kwei; Japanese: Shōki) is a figure of Chinese mythology. Traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings, and reputedly able to command 80,000 demons, his image is often painted on household gates as a guardian spirit, as well as in places of business where high-value goods are involved."
"According to folklore, Zhong Kui travelled with Du Ping (杜平), a friend from his hometown, to take part in the imperial examinations at the capital. Though Zhong achieved top honours in the exams, his title of 'zhuangyuan' was stripped by the emperor because of his disfigured appearance. In anger, Zhong Kui committed suicide upon the palace steps by hurling himself against the palace gate until his head was broken. Du Ping buried him. During his judgment, the Hell King saw potential in Zhong. Intelligent enough to score top honors in the imperial examinations, but damned to hell because he committed suicide. The Hell King (judge) then gave him the title, as king of ghost, forever to hunt, capture, maintain and order ghosts. After Zhong became king of ghosts in Hell, he returned to his hometown on Chinese New Year's Eve. To repay Du Ping's kindness, Zhong Kui gave his younger sister in marriage to Du."
3. The following is the User Review of the movie by Alison (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) (August 1, 2015) in the Internet Movie Database:
"Gorgeous, If a Tad Confusing"
"Zhong Kui (Chen Kun) has been trained as a scholar and a demon- hunter; the God Zhang has taken him as a pupil in preparation for stealing the Dark Crystal, which the demons of hell own and use to store stolen human spirits. Zhong achieves that quest, but the King of the demons enlists the aid of Snow Girl (Li Bingbing) to steal the Crystal back. Matters become more complicated when it becomes clear that Zhong and Snow Girl were former lovers, and they still mean more to each other than human and demon should. Will their love save - or destroy - the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell? "
"This is a beautifully striking film, filled with gorgeous scenery and marvelous fight scenes. The film-makers went all out with CGI monsters and other effects, using a number of different companies (including Weta Workshop), although that decision results in uneven effects from time to time. For example, some scenes look more like a video game than a movie. But overall, the spectacle holds up well, although I think I might need repeated viewings to understand the whole thing!"
4. *** Spoiler Alert ***
Alison of Montreal gave the movie an 8/10 rating.
I would rate the movie 7/10.
I agree with Alison that "this is a beautifully striking film".
Alison, not familiar with the mythology of Zhong Kui, finds the movie "a tad confusing" and "need repeated viewings to understand the whole thing!"
I, on the other hand having some familiarities with the mythology, find the storyline ultimately disappointing.
The movie uses more than one flashbacks to tell its story.
I think it uses one flashback too many and so confuses those whom are not familiar with the mythology of Zhong Kui.
Specifically, I have in mind the flashback of Zhong Kui being denied the 1st Place of the Imperial Examination ("Zhuang-yuan" or "狀元") and committed the sin of suicide and thereafter became a demon.
The atmosphere of the movie is somewhat heavy and dark and Zhong Ling (actress Zishan Yang), Zhong Kui's younger sister, and her husband Du Ping (actor Bei-Er Bao) provide the necessary relief.
I have enjoyed the first three-quarters of this movie but find the ending very disappointing.
It turned out the reason the Immortal Zhang (Zhang Daoxian) helped Zhong Kui is because Zhang wanted to possess the power of the Dark Crystal so that he can replace the Jade Emperor ("玉皇大帝") as the ruler of the Heavenly Court.
This part of the story lacks subtleties, depths, and imaginations.
Movie making in China, like much else, is hampered by politics.
In terms of the non-political aspects of film making such as camera works and computer graphics, Chinese films are approaching Hollywood if not already are at the same level.
But in terms of ideas and imaginations, Chinese movies still lack that certain something that makes a movie truly great.
Censorship stifles creativity.
"Zhong Kui", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"Zhongkui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal", IMDb (Internet Movie Database),
"Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"鍾馗", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,
"鍾馗嫁妹", Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia,