What Happens When Gangsters Face a Spiritwalker?

18 Apr

SPIRITWALKER | Well Go USA | Official Movie Site | Korean Action FilmsWell GO USA

The premise behind Spiritwalker (유체이자) is a very intriguing one. Yoon Jae-geun’s sophomore work continues his love for exploring gangster politics, and what we find here is a man (Yoon Kye-sang) with no memories of who he was, and what he’s supposed to do in a jaunt around Seoul, Korea. What he sees in the mirror is not the image of himself. That’s all he really knows, and we’re on the same scary ride he’s in.

A bum calls for help, and he allows himself to be taken to the hospital for treatment. Twelve hours later, he wakes up in another body. The only thing that keeps him grounded is needing to find Jina (Lim Ji-yeon). The only person who believes he’s the same person in different bodies is that homeless man, Haengryo (Park Ji-hwan) he’s met before, who helps him navigate this crazy, mixed up world.

Eventually, he figures out his name; he’s Ian and a victim of a crime gone wrong. To say anymore would spoil the slow reveal in an engaging thriller. It’s one quarter Quantum Leap and the rest The Bourne Identity. Another aspect that’s likeable about Spiritwalker is in how this film’s a subtle horror flick. If Ian can’t get back to his body, then he’ll be bouncing bodies around until the end of time. 

We have some impressive action sequences where he must fend off against gangsters after him. They are mostly gunfights rather than MMA action. What I liked is the internal conflict rather than the external one. Part of the tale had me asking how Ian switches bodies? The answer reveals a different sci-fi concept not used before. We also get some discussion in the bonus featurette.

Without this knowledge, Ian’s ability to hop bodies looks like an experiment on remote viewing gone wrong. Ian has no control since he’s new at it. The fact he often ‘possesses’ a person from a particular gang is amusing, but to figure out why he’s fixated on them isn’t explained until much later. Another theory that I loved hearing is how Haengryo believes Ian is supernatural. He’s not a Skinwalker of indigeous lore–a being who can shape-shift. The concept behind this story is clever. It deals with themes concerning personal identity. 

This release cannot be any more coincidental too. Spiritwalker released on home video the same week Everything Everywhere All At Once arrived in theatres. Fans of this body switching genre are in for two different kinds of treats as it examines the idea from two fresh perspectives without being too copycat.

3 Stars out of 5

Trailer

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