By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Well GO USA
Screening at select theatres (for list, please visit the official website), beginning August 16th, 2019
Official DVD/Blu-ray release November 19th
- Spoiler Alert
Marvel Comic’s Blade and Shang-Chi will never hold a candle to the Divine Fury (사자), a South Korean film which looks like it can upend any supernatural mixed martial art blockbuster any time of this and the next decade. The reason is that it has a solid grounding in creating a hero and it does not waste a whole ton of time (a whole film) doing so. Yong-hu (Park Seo-Joon) lost his father, a police officer who got injured on duty. As a child, he prayed hard to God; he didn’t want papa to die. Sadly, reality bites and he lost his faith.
Twenty years have passed and this young man channelled his anger in his rise to become a champion fighter. He has everything, but he’s still feeling empty inside. When a stigmata forms, he doesn’t know what it means or what to do; he hopes Father Ahn (Sung-Ki Ahn) can provide answers. Instead, what he stumbles into leads into discovering an evil force wants to make a foothold in our reality.
Seo-Joon is terrific as a different kind of Van Helsing character. This actor from South Korea has a future in Hollywood if he wants it. Should he get the offer to play Kato in a reboot of The Green Hornet, I’m all for it since the comedy take from years ago didn’t cut it.
Ji-sin (Do-Hwan Woo) is the devil you know than the devil you don’t; the rituals he practices summons everyone’s worse nightmare, and I had to wonder if Killer Croc and Batman would make an appearance in this universe. Woo is slick in this role, but is he the Dark Bishop Ahn is after?
For half the film, audiences are uncertain. Part of this movie is about Park redeeming himself and having a new father figure in his life. The two share pleasant moments when not exorcising demons. The two actors even share a respectable on screen chemistry which I adore. Ahn is much like Uncle Ben from the Spider-Man comics–very pleasant, wise beyond his years and easy going.
Feature films never have to go over the top with special effects. Writer-director Jason Kim keeps the work light with basic supernatural elements and FX; it’s a welcome change from the glut offered lately. To remind us that this film is Korean, he even nicely injects a bit of folk mediumship to show a syncretism between tradition and Christianity. I suspect the demons, vampires and werewolves lurking in the shadows–if they are that–are partly created by the vices of those living the high opulent life and it should be of no surprise they have turned away from God too. When Yong-hu was hearing voices to goad him on, others have far worse to torment them. Even Ahn is not without his own skeletons, and this film is great at showing no one can be perfect. It’s in how we choose to accept, to know, and to banish all that doubt before being able to move on.
Divine Fury‘s worldwide debut is August 16th, 2019. It made its North American premiere at and closed off Fantasia Fest 2019.
4 Stars out of 5
BLU-RAY + DVD COMBO CONFIGURATION SPECIFICATIONS:
- Audio: DTS-HDMA 5.1 / Stereo
- Item No (Blu-ray sku): WGU03131B
- Item No (BD Combo): WGU03132B
- UPC No: 810348031327 (BD Combo)
- Runtime: 130 min (feature)
- MPAA Rating: NR – not rated
- Format: DVD + Blu-ray
- No. of discs: 2 (1 x D9 + 1 x BD50)
- Language: 1. Korean 2. English (dubbed)
- Subtitles: English