Share |

DVD reviews

Book reviews
Music reviews

Culture reviews

Features & Interviews

Cult Films & TV
Books & Comics

Ephemera & Toys


Hate Mail

The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Metrodome.

Demon EmpireFormerly known as The Restless – arguably a more accurate title – this epic Korean film has a lot going for it, but somehow doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Set in AD924, the film follows former demon hunter and vagabond Yl Gwak (Woo-sung Jung), who somehow or other stumbles into Mid-Heaven – the stop-gap for dead souls where they will shed their former identities on their way to reincarnation. Amongst the souls as the White Reapers, defenders of the realm, and led by his former love, So-hwa (Tae-hee Kim) - who now has no memory of her former life.

Mid-Heaven is under attack from a renegade band – his former demon hunter colleagues, now using their powers to attack and destroy the realm while searching out the magic talisman that will allow them to return to the world of humans. Yl Gwak finds himself battling his former friends as he tries to make So-hwa remember him.

Despite the best efforts of the cover art to suggest otherwise, this is more romantic fantasy than demon-raging martial arts action - which isn't to say that there isn't plenty of the latter on offer, simply that there's is rather more of the former. But if you expect non-stop demon-battling, the often slow-moving dramatic scenes might be a bit of a let-down.

Admittedly, it looks absolutely gorgeous – there are some truly beautiful visual moments in the film, with even the deaths of the ‘angels’ and ‘demons’ being impressive, as they slowly turn to burning ashes. The music is excellent, and it certainly ladles on the sentimentality by the spoonful. But for some reason, it really fails to hold the attention. Lots of plot points seem under-developed, and while the fight scenes look great, they lack any real impact. We’ve all seen enough high-flying martial arts battles by now not to be automatically impressed by them, and while this is as well choreographed as any, the fights seem rather bland and uninvolving. This might be because the characters themselves are rather thinly drawn, and it’s hard to really give a damn about their predicaments. Not to mention that much of this seems like a collection of things you’ve seen before, from Hong Kong movies through to Lord of the Rings (the lair of the bad guys looks remarkably like Mordor).

I have to confess that I felt my eyes drooping during this – never a good sign (especially when you’re watching a film in the early evening!). In the end, it felt like a passable slice of eye-candy, but not something I can really recommended seeking out unless you are an Asian fantasy completist.





Share |