The opening minutes of Snake Girl, (Daughter of the Snake, 蛇之女), had me wondering if I was watching the right movie. A mini robotic gun platform runs over a CGI flower as it, and the heavily armed troops behind it make their way through the jungle. But then one of them catches a glimpse of what looks like a scantily clad woman watching them, closely followed by the arrival of some really bad CGI pretending to be a snake which promptly lays waste to the troops.
It seems that Jianghai Pharmaceuticals is desperate to get their hands on a rare plant, Lithospermum glabra, that can repair human DNA. But they haven’t been able to get any samples out of the jungle. Their head scientist Lin Cheng (Xiao Yanbo, Blood Warrior, Escape Room) along with Yang Fan (Wang Hongqian, Snake King Island, Monty Python) a“security consultant” who used to work for Blackwater, and his men to retrieve it.
Snake Girl heads into the jungle at this point, and in a scene reminiscent of the flying fish attack in Snakes, the expedition is quickly attacked by giant river bats. They fight them off but the commotion attracts the giant snake which promptly attacks the survivors.
Up until this point, Snake Girl is a fairly generic Chinese monster movie with most of the stock characters, brilliant scientists, greedy industrialists, and ruthless mercenaries that we expect. About the only difference is the high-tech camera replacing Yang Fan’s missing eye. However, once the snake attacks things take an unexpected turn. Lin Cheng is saved from drowning by Yi Yi (Zhang Haoyue, Run Amuck) the girl we saw earlier. And after they return to civilization with both her and the plant Snake Girl becomes a reptilian version of The Mighty Peking Man as the giant reptile slithers into town looking for its pet human.
Unfortunately, the CGI in Snake Girl is almost as bad as the miniatures that film used back in 1977. The snake itself doesn’t just look animated it looks fake, as if it was a rubber snake from the dollar store come to life. The electrified cable they use to try and contain the snake looks like an outtake from the original Tron. And just a suggestion to director Yin Yue (Dragon Hunter), if you can’t do fire convincingly, don’t arm one of your characters with a flamethrower.
The scenes of Yi Yi being “civilized” are, I think, meant to be funny but as with much of the humour in Chinese films, it does nothing for me. And the scene where she’s taken to a snake meat restaurant feels more like abuse than anything else. It all drags on way too long before the snake reappears and manages to save a little girl from human traffickers before commencing its rampage.
And that brings us to the most ridiculous scene not just in Snake Girl but in any of these films. After being experimented on by the villains, Yi Yi and the snake are both near death, so Lin Cheng uses a car battery and jumper cables as an improvised defibrillator to revive her which also brings her scaly protector back from death’s door as well. It’s like an outtake from one of the Crank films and even has an on-screen warning not to try it at home. That warning may well be the film’s most amusing moment.
Despite a promising plotline, Snake Girl ends up being one of the lesser of the Chinese kaiju films. The promised serpentine take on King Kong never really happens and even if it did the effects are so poor it would have probably been more laughable than thrilling anyway.