Snake Island Python (蛇岛狂蟒) begins on a note that will be very familiar to genre fans no matter what country they’re from. A couple out camping in the woods hears something strange, the guy goes out to have a look around and no sooner says there’s nothing there than something drags him off.
The latest in the seemingly endless stream of giant snake films such as Snakes and King of Snake to slither out of China, Snake Island Python moves from there to its main story. A group of college girls need to get some wildlife photos and samples for their final project. One of them, Yin Tao, has a boyfriend with his own yacht so they make a vacation out of it.
Unfortunately, for a film running barely over an hour, Snake Island Python wastes way too much time on a bunch of obnoxious rich kids acting like assholes rather than any kind of kaiju action. By the half-hour mark, we’ve seen the snake eat a couple of minor characters and seen a giant shark swimming around. There’s a crocodile as well but we don’t actually see it, we just get some POV shots and are told what it was.
Meanwhile, we get lectured on ecology and the environment and the various characters flirt and fight among themselves until someone finally manages to get the python pissed off by smashing some of its eggs. Then everyone runs around for the last few minutes while the snake, quicksand and the crocodile, which we finally get to see, start picking them off.
Director Li Zhiwen (The Dragon Subduing Master) tries to make Snake Island Python’s final act exciting but unfortunately, none of it really works. The characters have absolutely no development beyond superficial traits like loving junk food, being obsessed with fitness or an implied foot fetish. Even Wang, the island’s hermit-like caretaker has no backstory beyond he stayed on after everyone else left because he liked it there. There isn’t even an attempt to make any of them interesting enough for the viewer to care about them.
It all comes down to undeveloped and mostly unlikeable characters trying to fight off some equally bad CGI creatures. And honestly, I didn’t care who won I just wanted it to be over. Sadly even the end credits don’t bring relief because the English language song that plays over them is, to put it mildly, awful. If there’s anything surprising about Snake Island Python it’s that the Chinese government let a film with a song that seems to be pro-pot get released.
A subtitled version of Snake Island Python is currently free to watch on Youku’s YouTube Channel. At that price, you might give it a shot if you’re in desperate need of some giant monster mayhem. But there are other, and much better alternatives.