November 28, 2010

Woochi (Dong-hoon Choi, 2009)

What starts out as a magic-driven wuxia, visually close to Blades of Blood, set in the Joseon era in Korea, quickly segue into an unsophisticated popular blockbuster film.

Woochi, an undisciplined, mischievous Taoist wizard, banished inside a scroll by three wise men, is unleashed in modern times to help against an invasion of goblins in a world that has forgotten all magic. Laden with special effects and aerial fights, Woochi is very light in the story department, succumbing to the imperative of the plot train a few minutes into the film, like similar films Les Visiteurs (Jean-Marie Poiré, 1993) or Masters of the Universe.(Gary Goddard, 1987). Dong-hun Choi does a great job as director with the thin material he provided himself as the movie’s writer. Yun-seok Kim, the linchpin of the over-hyped Korean thriller The Chaser (Hong-jin Na, 2008), is pitch-perfect as the bad guy in a common-denominator comedy blockbuster. Coupled with Secret Reunion, Dong-won Kang confirms he has the charisma and technique to be one of Korea’s superstars of the silver screen.

Simply taken as mindless entertainment, Woochi could be considered successful. It certainly was a financial success in Korea, with a gross of 43 million won for a budget of 12 million. But, in truth, Woochi was as remarkable to me as a Chris Columbus film.