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[HanCinema's Film Review] "JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard"

2015/01/10 | 837 views | Permalink

South Korean cinema has its share of heavier topics and darker films. However, those who just want to relax and have some fun with lighter material are not neglected. 'JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard' is a pure action comedy and with its star-studded cast and good production value, it is a work with one goal alone; entertainment.

The story begins 500 years ago, in the Joseon Dynasty. A group of goblins imprisoned in a cave manage to escape and steal the powerful pipe played by their guardian to keep them dormant . Jeon Woo-chi (Gang Dong-won), a disrespectful wizard apprentice is falsely accused by the Taoist wizards in charge of protecting the world as having murdered his master and is imprisoned by them in a painting. 500 years later, the wizards have to seek his help to save everyone.

Cho Raeng-i and the wizardsHwadam

The film is a big budget action one so it is a very good-looking, quality production. The action is incredibly fun, choreography beautiful and special effects quite nice and most importantly, not over-used. The music is spot on and carries the same variety and quirkiness that fits the movie's style. And it is this style which really makes it special. The work feels almost cartoon-like and this element is accentuated through not only its audiovisual parts, but the writing and characters too. Everything is fast, everyone is odd and one has no time to get bored in this wacky adventure.

What the characters lack in terms of development and personality, they make up in entertainment value and a big part of that comes from the cast. The roles themselves are all unique and peculiar in some way, but they also serve a very basic plot which could have fallen flat if not for the capable and charismatic people portraying them. From the silly sidekick Cho Raeng-i (Yoo Hae-jin) to the mischievous Seo In-kyeong (Im Soo-jung) to the delightfully charming villain portrayed by Kim Yun-seok, they give this work life.

Despite the best efforts of the cast, however, the superficiality of the story and characters does hinder the viewer's emotional investment. Like any work, there are obstacles the characters must overcome and there is the mandatory darker part at the end, but due this lighter nature, there is never any real feeling of threat and the conflicts just do not have any emotional resonance. While this fits the style of the work as a pure entertainment piece, there are many topics and connections which could have been explored a bit more and which do feel like plot holes at times.

In-kyeongA goblin

This difficulty in bonding with the characters beyond simple amusement and following the plot with investment is also exacerbated by the often choppy pace of the film. There are times when it is difficult to understand what is happening and why, as the transitions between scenes and connection of important plot points are not sufficient. Things just happen, the reasons not always explained and the viewer follows.

'JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard' might offer a basic story and feel too hasty at times, but a work is successful when it fulfills its own purpose. The film is over two hours of pure, unadulterated fun and it is clear that was its goal. Beautifully presented and with a unique comedic style its cast does great in carrying, it is a good work to let off some steam and relax through.

'JEON WOO CHI : The Taoist Wizard' is written and directed by Choi Dong-hoon and features Gang Dong-won, Kim Yun-seok, Im Soo-jung and Yoo Hae-jin.

Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'


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