We just reviewed Youku’s Snakes (大蛇), that was about a scientific expedition to a tropical island that runs into an assortment of giant creatures. Snow Monster (大雪怪), also from Youku, is about a scientific expedition that runs into trouble in the Arctic. And if you thought Snakes was wild, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Shen (Zhang Yongxian) is leading a team into the arctic wastelands when something large and hairy turns up and trashes their Sno-Cat. Her employers reach out to Ren (Wu Junpeng, The Tokyo Vampire), the only person who can lead a rescue team. Ren is also Shen’s ex. Since he has nothing better to do than day drink and beat up shoplifters, he agrees.
Getting to the team’s last known location isn’t easy. It involves some Raiders of the Lost Ark style problem solving and a trek through a tunnel full of prehistoric birds with a taste for human brains. They make it out of the tunnel and find themselves in an uncharted valley. And under attack by snow sharks. Until something big and hairy shows up to make sushi out of them.
This all happens in the film’s first half-hour. Director Huang He gets things moving quickly and doesn’t let up throughout the first act. That might be to keep viewers from wondering how the first team got a Sno-Cat through the tunnel. Or how they’re able to wander around without hats or gloves and in light jackets this close to the North Pole. Snow Monster may be exciting but it isn’t well thought out.
And it all just keeps getting weirder. Shen is indeed still alive and living with a tribe of what looks like elves from Lord of the Rings led by Priestess Ka Ya (Li Ruoxi, Detective Dee’s Hell Road, Snakes 2) who worship the Yeti. The expedition’s corporate liaison Heng Li (Jian Youngbo) reveals he’s an agent for another company that knew about the snow creature all along and were after its DNA. He convinces what’s left of the security team to help him get it. Which is really scummy as he’s Shen’s uncle and the brother of the company’s owner.
The Snow Monster itself is an odd looking thing. Imagine a Yeti, only Kong sized. With what looks like ram’s horns, three smaller horns and a tail. Depending on the scene it’s either a man in a suit or CGI. This time out however the CGI isn’t the least believable part of the film. It’s painfully obvious the outdoor scenes were filmed on a soundstage with fake snow and what looks like plastic rocks.
Snow Monster never really tries to be serious in the way Crocodile Island or Killer Shark are. It’s aimed at the kids and will appeal to them and anyone who grew up on 1970s films like Godzilla vs Gigan or The Mighty Peking Man. It’s one to just turn your brain off and enjoy as it all ends in a wild brawl that pits the good guys and the Snow Monster against the villains and a trio of jet fighters equipped with sonic cannons that turn up out of nowhere. Even the film’s obligatory fat comic relief character Wen Cai (Tang Xin, Lost in Apocalypse) gets a chance to be a hero.
It’s a battle any kaiju fan will love. Speaking of kaiju, the film continues windowed, and without subtitles, during the credits. The last shot shows what looks like giant snakes. Which certainly makes it look like it’s linked to Snakes and Snakes 2 in a Yoku Monsterverse.
Youku has made Snow Monster available free on its YouTube Channel.