DVD region 2. Metrodome.
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
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
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
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.
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