Wide World of Horror: ‘Bai wan ju e (Croczilla’) – all terrible and no fun

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Bai wan ju e (Croczilla)download
Written by Li Sheng Lin
Directed by Li Sheng Lin
China, 2012

There’s been a surge in recent years of B horror monster movies. Giant sharks, giant alligators, mutated animals that are a combination of shark and alligator, and so many other animal monsters have gotten the monster movie treatment. Most of them have come from the United States of America or Canada; and been sent straight to the Syfy Channel. Bai wan ju e is supposedly the first B horror monster movie to come from China. Unlike the Canadian and American movies of the same ilk there actually appears to be a bit of pride being shown by China towards its creation.

The reasons for that pride aren’t present in the film itself. From beginning to end nothing in Bai wan ju e goes right. The comedy isn’t funny, the horror is toothless, and the kills are nonexistent. When the “villain” of the film finally gets his due there’s no reason to get excited because his death is both anti-climactic and lacking in visual panache. Bai wan ju e never reaches the level of either a decent film or a movie so terrible it’s great. It remains a steadfastly terrible movie throughout its runtime.

What’s so disappointing about Bai wan ju e is that it could have joined the ranks of movies that are so terrible they’re great with relative ease. All the ingredients are in place for a truly awful, but fun, movie going experience. The dialogue wants to be terrible, and it is terrible, but it’s never fun. The same is true of the action, the acting, the direction, and every facet of Bai wan ju e. The most important ingredient in a splendiferously awful film is the fun. Remove the fun and all that’s left is an awful movie. Watching a plain awful movie is usually a drag, and watching Bai wan ju e is pretty much a drag.

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The only area where Bai wan ju e doesn’t get failing marks is in the CG rendering of Amao, the main crocodile. The beast doesn’t always look great, but her rendering does show how far the Chinese film industry has come in its attempts to emulate Hollywood. Unfortunately the lesson the Chinese film industry didn’t bother to learn from Hollywood is that CG alone isn’t always the best thing for a film. Especially when, as in the case of Bai wan ju e, the CG isn’t impeccable during every moment of the film.

Bai wan ju e is a B horror monster movie that can easily be skipped. There are certainly better Chinese horror movies to be found, and there are far better B horror monster movies for the horror buff to devour. The only reason to watch Bai wan ju e is if one is looking for a good time. Bai wan ju e fails to deliver a good time, it fails so badly that it manages to give the genre it comes from a bad name.

-Bill Thompson

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