I wasn’t sure I was watching the right movie in the first few minutes of Snake Girl (Daughter of the Snake, ). As it and the heavily armed troops behind it move through the jungle, a small robotic gun platform runs over a CGI flower. But then one of them sees what looks like a scantily-clad woman watching them, which is quickly followed by some really bad CGI that looks like a snake and starts killing the troops.
Jianghai Pharmaceuticals seems very eager to get their hands on Lithospermum glabra, a rare plant that can fix human DNA. But they haven’t been able to get any samples out of the jungle yet. Their head scientist Lin Cheng (Xiao Yanbo, Blood Warrior, Escape Room), a “security consultant” who used to work for Blackwater named Yang Fan (Wang Hongqian, Snake King Island, Monty Python), and his men went to get it.
At this point, Snake Girl goes into the jungle. In a scene similar to the flying fish attack in Snakes, giant river bats quickly attack the group. They try to fight them off, but the noise draws the attention of a huge snake, which then attacks the survivors.
Up until this point, Snake Girl has been a pretty standard Chinese monster movie, with brilliant scientists, greedy industrialists, and merciless mercenaries. About the only difference is that Yang Fan has a high-tech camera instead of an eye. But when the snake strikes, things take a strange turn. The girl we saw earlier, Yi Yi (Zhang Haoyue, Run Amuck), saves Lin Cheng from drowning. After they get her and the plant back to civilization, Snake Girl turns into a reptilian version of The Mighty Peking Man when the giant snake comes to town looking for its pet human.
The CGI in Snake Girl is almost as bad as the miniatures used in the 1977 movie. The snake doesn’t just look animated; it looks fake, like a dollar-store rubber snake that came to life. The electric wire they use to try to catch the snake looks like it could have been in the first Tron movie. And just as a suggestion to the director of “Dragon Hunter,” Yin Yue, don’t give one of your characters a flamethrower if you can’t make the fire look real.
I think the scenes of Yi Yi being “civilized” are supposed to be funny, but like most of the humor in Chinese movies, they don’t make me laugh. And the scene where she is taken to a restaurant that serves snake meat feels like abuse more than anything else. All of this goes on for way too long before the snake comes back and saves a little girl from people who are trying to sell her.
Now we get to the most ridiculous part of not just Snake Girl but all of these movies. After the bad guys experimented on Yi Yi and the snake, both were very close to dying. Lin Cheng used a car battery and jumper cables as a makeshift defibrillator to bring Yi Yi back to life, which also brought the snake back from the brink of death. It looks like a scene from one of the Crank movies, and there’s a warning on the screen to not try it at home. That warning could be the funniest part of the movie.
Even though the story sounds good, Snake Girl ends up being one of the weaker Chinese kaiju movies. The snake-like take on King Kong that was promised never happens, and even if it had, the effects are so bad that it would have been more funny than scary anyway.
On Youku’s YouTube Channel, you can watch Snake Girl for free right now. FilmTagger has some suggestions if you still want more kaiju action.