Woochi - The Demon Slayer (AKA The Taoist Wizard) Review by Robin Solomon
I first saw the trailer for Woochi - The Demon Slayer while I was staying in South Korea in 2009, I was in a Busan cinema just about to watch yet another stunning South Korean film `Sword with No Name', which has also been released by Cine Asia in 2010. Woochi instantly had me excited and when I heard it was getting the Cine Asia treatment the excitement doubled!
The movie takes place in both the Joseon era and modern day South Korea, and tells the story of an undisciplined wizard, Jeon Woochi played by the fabulous Kang Dong-won (M, Duelist) who, with his awesome and hilarious human/dog/horse companion, Chorangyi played by the always brilliant Yu Hae-jin (The Warrior, Public Enemy trilogy), are on the hunt for a magical mirror and bronze dagger, but end up fighting to save the world-of-the-future from chaos. The first scene of the movie sets out the story brilliantly, telling us how an Archgod had blew a magical flute for 3000 days to repress the Goblins in a dark underground prison, on the 3000th day the door to the prison must be opened, but due to the miscalculations of 3 Taoist gods, the door was opened a day early which leads to the evil inside of the Goblins to reawaken and take the magical flute from the Archgod.
The flute ends up in the hands of Woochi's master, Baek Yun-shik (Art of Fighting, Save the Green planet), who is murdered by Hwa-dam another famous wizard, played by Kim Yun-seok (The Chaser, Tazza) Hwa-dam was after the flute, which is now with Woo-chi who then returns to his masters home only to be confronted by the 3 Taoist gods who accuse Woochi of killing his master and taking the flute, so the Taoist gods seal Woochi and Chorangyi, with the flute, in a painting which will keep earth at peace for 500 years, but Hwadam has now gone missing. The movie then switches to modern day Korea where Goblins have gotten loose and have taken over the bodies of 2 humans who start to cause havoc in Seoul City. Here we again meet the 3 Taoist gods, a Buddhist monk played by one of my favourite actors, Song Young-chang (The Good The Bad The Weird, Nowhere to hide) a Shamen, Joo Jin-mo (Tazza, Righteous Ties) and a Priest, Kim Sang-ho (She's on Duty, Tazza). They decide to release Woochi and Chorangyi to stop the Goblins and save the world.
Woochi - The demon slayer shows just how far Korean cinema has come over the last 10 years, with a big budget of 12million US dollars and an all-star cast of some of the best actors and actresses in the Korean film and drama business. The CGI is excellent, with the exception of a few scenes, the fight with the CGI goblin at the beginning looks a little bit fake for example. I especially like the bit when Woochi uses a painting of an archer to fire an arrow and also the water vs fire moment when he is fighting Hwadam, top stuff! Don't expect a lot of great Martial Art scenes from this movie though, the fights scenes are made to look very stylish and can, in some ways, be compared to the fight scenes in `Duelist', where they are more like a dance. It's not a bad thing as it fits well for this kind of movie.
The film is also very funny, especially Woochi's intro scene where he pretends to be a heavenly god and casts a spell on the King and his men, this scene had me in stitches to the point where I actually had to pause the film to try to calm down. The film is really well written and directed by Choi Dong-hun (Tazza) and very easy to follow. It almost feels like a Terry Pratchett story, similar to `Colour of Magic' with its 3 bumbling Wizards and other superb characters who all have a part to play in the story.
Woochi - The Demon Slayer is the type of film you can whack on one evening, get sucked in to, be wowed by its amazing action scenes and CGI, fall in love with the characters, laugh out load and not have to think too much. It is quite simply a very fun film which will appeal to UK audiences in the same way it did with the far eastern audience. a brilliant 4 out of 5.
Picture quality and special features: The picture quality is beautiful and very crisp, exactly what you expect from a Cine Asia DVD/Blu Ray, and the menu lay out is very easy to navigate. I didn't have all the special features to watch, but the deleted scenes are pretty good and the audio commentary from Bey Logan and Mike leeder is second to none, very interesting. The special features on the final package, released on the 25th April, look very good indeed.