Snake King is a 2020 Chinese action-adventure horror feature film directed by Joshua Chan and starring Xin Zer Tan and Ning Kang. Also known as King of Snake
Snake King has two things that help it stand out in what is getting to be a very crowded field of Chinese giant critter movies. Rather than a modern-day setting, it takes place during China’s Warlord Period between 1916 and 1928. And, rather than just being oversized like the one in Snakes, this serpent has two heads.
Forced to stop due to rocks on the track a train finds itself under attack. First from a horde of venomous snakes and then a huge two-headed one. Among the survivors are Jing Lan (Kang Ning, Dragon Labyrinth) who was returning to her home village, Mu Sheng (Chen Xinzhe, Exorcism Master) who makes traditional medicines out of snakes, and Mao Sho Yang (Shao Shuai, The Male Queen), leader of a small detachment of troops that’s about to get much smaller.
The survivors reach Lan and Sheng’s village only to find the snakes have attacked it as well leaving few survivors. Their only hope is to send a few daring souls to the Snake King Valley to get the blood orchids, I mean serpent flowers, needed to make a cure.
The opening attack on the train is well done and has some surprisingly good effects for both the swarm of regular-sized and the giant snakes. The scenes of the passengers panicking are effective as well, the train’s cramped cars and glimpses of the swarming serpents outside the train giving an added feeling of claustrophobia and of being trapped.
Unfortunately, after that King of Snake falls into a fairly standard storyline. A group of villagers and survivors from the train make a dangerous journey through the wilderness. What’s left of Yang’s troops’ stand-in for the usual security team/mercenaries. There’s the rich guy who’ll feed others to the snake in order to get away. Sheng and Yang fight over Jing Lan. The only real differences are the lack of a fat comic relief character, we get a skinny nerd with oversized glasses instead. And the addition of a brutish good guy with a pregnant wife who stepped right out of Train to Busan.
Apart from a giant anaconda that attacks their rafts, King of Snake gives us more jungle adventure than kaiju thrills. An infestation of black widow spiders and tunnels full of vampire bats. Decaying rope bridges and a sinister temple that looked like it was a leftover from The Enchanting Phantom help complete that feeling. It’s like one of those monster movies from the 1950s where the heroes spend more time looking for the creature than fighting it [read the full review here]
Jim Morazzini, guest reviewer via Voices from the Balcony
” …has its moments […] Though director Chen never lets it linger too long, which may be a wise move if you’re not confident in the effects. Can’t say I noticed any particular flaws, though it is moving quite quickly much of the time. Decent enough overall, yet after the glory which was the start, I can’t help feeling this must count as a lost opportunity.” Rating: B- Film Blitz
蛇王 “Snake King”
Full film free to watch online:
More Chinese monster movies:
Alien Awakening aka Alien Invasion
Big Shark Attack
The Blood Alligator
Chang’an Fog Monster
Dragon Pond Monster
Escape from the Shark’s Mouth
Iron Blood Guard
Junkrat Train aka Rat Disaster
Killer Bee Invasion
Monster of Lake Heaven
Monty Python 2
Mutation on Mars
Sand Python Siege
Snake King (2020)
Snake King (2021)
We Are Werewolves
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