We live in cynical times.
So cynical, in fact, that even the more softhearted among you might have a hard time buying into King of Snake’s testament to the love that a giant mutant snake can feel for a lonely little girl named Tingting. Can your indifference perhaps be overcome by the film’s theme song, a sappy ballad that is surely the Taiwanese equivalent of Michael Jackson’s “Ben”? How about the insipid instrumental score, which makes ample use of the “bells” setting on a cheap 1980s keyboard? No? Well, like it or not, we’ll all just have to deal with this giant monster movie that aims to warm the heart as much as chill the spine--making it the one thing on this earth closest to a kaiju version of Old Yeller.
War God, the Taiwanese really had a thing for), and, of course, touching moments of bonding between a little girl and her snake. Throughout all of this, Tingting protests to anyone who will listen that Moser is her friend, that he is “nice” and “cute”, but it is not long before the karmic calculus of both monster movies and “boy and his dog” stories combine to put a number on his days. Which brings us to…
The scene of a weeping and disconsolate Tingting saying goodbye to the dying Moser actually left me a little verklempt, but that is only because the filmmakers set it to Ennio Morricone’s “Jill’s Theme” from Once Upon a Time in the West. This same cheat was pulled in Country of Beauties and, while again very effective, it here stinks no less of unearned pathos.
[NOTE: Yes, I know that Godfrey Ho cut-and-pasted KING OF SNAKE into THUNDER OF GIGANTIC SERPENT. I haven’t seen that movie because I know better.]