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May 2011

Woochi - The Demon Slayer

cast: Gang Dong-won, Kim Yoon-suk, Yoo Hae-jin, and Lin Soo-jung

director: Choi Dong-hoon

115 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Showbox DVD Region 2

RATING: 8/10
review by Ian Hunter

Woochi - The Demon Slayer

Okay, I'm biased. Years ago I saw a film called A Chinese Ghost Story on television (which prompted me to write a children's novel, set in ancient China, called The Dark Knight's Blade) so I'm a sucker for a film like Woochi - The Demon Slayer.

We get straight into the action with a prologue that features the Archgod who has been blowing a magical flute for 3,000 days to hold the evil goblins imprisoned, but he has to stop on the right day, and is relying on three Taoist gods to tell him when that is. Of course, despite being gods - or maybe because of it - they are fairly useless, and get it wrong by a day and the goblins are released, resulting in the flute, Archgod and the goblins - who look like giant, armoured rabbits or rats - being banished to Earth, minus their memories.

Cut to demon-hunting wizard Hwadam (a brooding Kim Yoon-suk) who is going around the countryside carrying out good deeds and trying to track down goblins and a wayward wizard called Woochi, sometimes known as 'Woochi the scoundrel', so he can set him on the right path. Woochi (Gang Dong-won), meanwhile, will do anything, even pretend to descend from the heavens and make a fool of the king to try and get his hands on a magical dagger and mirror to enhance his powers.

But tragedy intervenes when Hwadam ends up being possessed by the evil in the magic flute, kills his three disciples, and kills Woochi's master, and frames the apprentice in the process, resulting in Woochi and his companion, Chorangyi (Yoo Hae-jin) who is sometimes human, sometimes a dog and sometimes a horse (and sometimes even in human form he has trouble remembering what he is) being imprisoned by the three Taoist gods inside a painting for 500 years. Only being released in the present when goblins start to run amok. This, of course, leads to some humorous scenes and misunderstandings, as Woochi and Chorangyi try to adjust to modern life, and romance rears its head as Woochi's true love has also been reincarnated in 2009.

The cast are completely unknown to me, which only makes them seem just right for each of the characters they play, with Woochi coming across as brave, foolhardy, clever, but still a bit clueless in places, always the apprentice. There are moments of comic relief provided by Yoo Hae-jin as Chorangyi, and he steals most of the scenes he appears in. "Good doggy".

Fast, funny, action-packed with great special effects that enhance the various levels of magic that are unleashed during the film, and add to the scenes. Oh; and there's a little bit of romance on the side, and some unexpected twists and turns. What more can you ask for? Well, there is a bonus disc which includes interviews and features about the making of the film, and the special effects.



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