Green Snake, with Maggie Cheung Man-yuk, Joey Wong Jo-yin, Ng Hing-Kwok, and Chiu Man-cheuk. Directed by Tsui Hark. On Golden Harvest circuit. Daughter Of Darkness, with Anthony Wong Chau-sang, Money Lo man-yee, Chung Suk-wai, Ng Toi-yung, and Ho Ka-kui. Directed by Ivan Lai Kai-ming. On Mandarin circuit. THE legend of White Snake and Green Snake, the subject of more than a dozen movies during the past 60 years, is given the Tsui Hark treatment in one of the more visually arresting period pictures to emerge in the current trend of historic Chinese epics. Set some 1,500 years ago, during the Southern Sung Dynasty, director Tsui based the film on Lilian Lee Pik-wah's novel Green Snake, with both Tsui and Lee given screen writing credit. While the script ultimately proves too thin a framework on which to hang the action, Green Snake emerges as one of Tsui's more poetic productions and a movie quite different from any previous ''snake'' picture. The story outline is familiar to Chinese audiences from Singapore to Shanghai. Green Snake (Maggie Cheung) and White Snake (Joey Wong) are reptilian sisters who assume human form to seduce any hapless mortals who catch their fancy. Looking as they do like Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong, these human snakes are pretty hard to resist. Thus, it is no surprise that when they set their sights on innocent scholar Hui Seen (Ng Hing-kwok, a Taiwanese dancer who is also currently starring in Temptation of a Monk), he doesn't stand a chance to emerge with his virtue intact. However, the sisters have a powerful enemy in a Buddhist monk (Chiu Man-cheuk, impressive in a non-Wong Fei-hung role), who uses his considerable powers to ''save'' the scholar from a fate to which he has happily resigned himself. What distinguishes Green Snake from its predecessors is both its imagination and humour. This is no museum piece rendering of a Chinese classic. The sight of the elegantly-gowned Green Snake sticking out her tongue to munch on a tempting fly or two, or her efforts to engage in the most unsnakely activity of shedding tears, lighten up the proceedings considerably. Tsui, aided by art director Lui Cho-hung and cinematographer Ko Chiu-lam, has created a pastel-hued fantasy world. Striking images include the contrast of pink lotuses and green leaves, or coloured spotlight on a bamboo grove. And there's the exotic allure of William Cheung Suk-ping's diaphanous costumes for the sisters. The overall effect is a world of artifice well suited to the fantastic nature of the story. Still, some of the special effects are less-than-ideally executed, particularly a phoney bird that looks like it escaped from Tsui's The Magic Crane. While the creatures may be off the mark, the humans are first rate. Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong are properly vampish, their performances immeasurably enhanced by the actresses who dubbed their speaking voices. Wong's dubbing voice, in particular, is the perfect complement to her perfect looks, with a comically coquettish edge that gives her White Snake that extra something. As is the case in so many Tsui films, there is a lack of balance between the action elements - the final battle, for instance, is extended far too long - and the story telling, which is frequently muddled and omits some of the more intriguing aspects of Lilian Lee's novel. But any shortcomings are compensated in part by the film's visual poetry, passages of lyrical beauty that bring much-needed colour to a lacklustre autumn season. THE term ''sexploitation picture'' was probably coined with something like Daughter of Darkness in mind. Supposedly based on a true homicide case, in which a young lady in Guangdong brutally murdered her entire family, this Category III comedy-drama-soft porn hybrid substitutes psychological insights for titillating sights. Titillating, that is, if you have a strong stomach for sleaze. The tawdry script, by the pseudonymous Guei Bok, details the events leading to the massacre. Beautiful and kindly Fong (Chung Suk-wai) suffers from the mental abuse inflicted by a cruel mother, younger brother and sister, and, worst of all, a louse of a father. Dad (Ho Ka-kui) has sex with virtually any woman he can get his hands on, including his nubile daughter. She finally reaches the breaking point at her birthday party, when papa ties Fong up, smears birthday cake all over her naked body and proceeds to gorge himself. Incest is a very real problem, and one that is still swept under the carpet in towns like the rural village where the film takes place. But far from shedding any light on this issue, the film-makers take special delight in turning it into a series of trashy sex fantasies. We see Daddy peeking through the bathroom key hole and masturbating while Fong takes a shower; as well as a rape scene, in which the camera ends up ''artistically'' focused on an image of the Virgin Mary on Fong's night table. There are also numerous ''normal'' sex scenes between Fong and her policeman boyfriend (Ng Toi-yung). The on-screen couple are also a couple in real life, which lends the passion a certain note of authenticity - not that it gives the movie any added sense of credibility. Believe it or not, Daughter of Darkness begins as a comedy, with Anthony Wong portraying the Chinese Public Security officer in charge of the murder case. His examination of the crime site is so over-the-top that it almost qualifies as a Monty Python spoof on bad taste. Still, the police investigation and murder trial represent one of the more intriguing views of the Mainland Chinese justice system ever portrayed in a Hong Kong movie. What is truly amazing is the Daughter of Darkness's exterior scenes were actually shot on location in Guangdong Province. The lensing was presumably done on the sly, for the Chinese censors would surely have a field day with this one.