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King Serpent Island (She wang dao) (2021)
 
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
 
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This is a Chinese monster snake movie with the typically bad CGI snakes found in the genre. Giant snake movies are proof that we are all the same worldwide. It doesn't matter which country makes the movie, they're all equally bad. But I watch them anyway... This one involves a gang of black market snake hunters that's hired by a group of evil real estate developers (is there any other kind?) to catch all of the snakes on King Serpent Island so they can turn it into the largest eco-tourism resort in Asia. The snake-hunting gang is led by a gangster named master Si, who parties with beautiful women in his snake warehouse, pulling snake eggs out of their cleavage, and eating them. The eggs. (Sometimes I wish I was a snake-hunting gangster.)

But snake expert and environmentalist Zheng Zi gets in their way. He gives lectures on snakes and catches problem snakes for villagers after they collect snake eggs and the snake mothers come to get their eggs back. He's also a descendant of a man who lived on the island called the "Snake King," and he believes that the largest snake ever found on earth, the Titan Python, thought to be extinct, is alive on Snake King Island. He wants the island to become a nature preserve to protect the monster.

Zheng Zi travels to the island with some men and a young woman named Zhou Xiao Xiao who he thinks is an environmentalist. We see her photographing snakes and collecting their venom for research, but in the end it turns out she has a different agenda that involves illicitly collecting a huge snake egg to bring back to her people on the mainland. On the island, Zheng Zi's group meets Si and his snake-hunting gang that includes three new recently-hired martial artist snake-hunting thugs, and then the fighting begins.

Zheng Zi and his group retire for the night in a cabin once inhabited by the Snake King where they discover that he knew about the Titan Python and wanted to keep it a secret to protect it. One of the snake gang henchmen blocks the door and puts venomous snakes in the cabin, and people die immediately, because all snake movies want us to believe the same old nonsense that snakes don't try to hide, they agressively go after humans, and that their venom kills instantaneously.

Escaping the cabin, Zhou Xiao Xiao is attacked by gangster who tries to rape her, but a giant monster snake stops him. The giant snake is searching for its eggs that were stolen by Zhou Xiao Xiao. After lots of terrible shaky cam badly-edited fighting action between gangsters and environmentalists and ridiculously gigantic CGI snakes, none of whom thought to bring a gun, the snake finally gets its egg back and kills the gangsters, but unfortunately, not the real estate developers. They do lose their money and their organization, so that's satisfying. It's unusual that we see a happy ending in this genre with the giant monster snake winning, but in the end we learn that the environmentalists won the fight to protect the island and the snake.


A lot of the snakes we see are computer-generated animations, and there are probably a few snake props also, but we do see a few real live snakes. Most of them are in cages, but a couple of times we also see a very cool red and black snake that I think is a Banded Red Snake - Dinodon rufozonatum, a common non-venomous colubrid snake found across east Asia.

This movie uses the ridiculous trope found in a lot of snake movies - a snake hunts for its eggs after they are removed from the nest. It's unrealistic because most snakes just lay their eggs and abandon them. The monster snake here is supposed to be a python, and it's true that some kinds of pythons do brood their eggs, but they certainly don't have the ability to track them down like bloodhounds looking for a fugitive. And when Zheng Zi gives the egg back to the snake, I had to wonder - how did the snake carry it with no hands and no pockets and so many teeth in its mouth?

You can read a synopsis of the movie and watch the entire movie over at the SilverScream.

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