South Korea struck gold with 'Woochi: The Demon Slayer.' This odd and action packed film plays out more like a cartoony fairy tale than it does an ultra violent sci-fi thriller. As fun as Woochi is, it's a bit distracting and confusing due to the frequent time period jumps. However, given its entertaining premise and solid special effects, I can see why this was on of Korea's biggest box office smashes, and I have no doubt American audiences will eat this up.
As we switch from different time periods throughout the film, we see a variety of characters who seem to be in different forms, which the dialogue and story don't explain all that well, but if you can just sit back and relax, you'll enjoy the ride as a popcorn flick. The backstory tells us of a magic instrument that keeps monsters and demons at bay and trapped in another world, preventing them from wreaking havoc on Earth and its inhabitants, but it's the same old story we keep hearing time and time again. The guardians of these monsters make a mistake somewhere in the years, causing the demons to be unleashed in the real world. As this happens, the magical instrument that can trap the demons once again falls into the hands of pure evil.
Meanwhile, our main hero Woochi (Kang Don-won) is a Taoist monk who is a bit mischievous and is told by his master (Baek Yoon-sik) to fight the evil, take back the magical instrument, and save the world. No big deal, right? Woochi sets out with his pal Chorangyi (Yoo Hae-Jin) who has a very unique ability, one which should garner a few laughs. And the pure evil I was talking about comes in the form of the sinister Hwadam (Kim Yun-seok), who wants nothing more than to use the instrument for his own wicked reasons.
I found it difficult to really follow any sort of storyline or plot, however, the over-the-top performances, the solid stunt-work, and the impressive CG effects kept me laughing and engaged with this film. The giant rabbit and rodent look especially good in their major action and battle scenes, and while they may take a more cartoon-like approach, the action never stops. And Choi Don-Hoon's camera work was very impressive with its quick pans and swoops as we dive into battle and in and out of time periods.
Take 'Woochi: The Demon Slayer' with a grain of salt, and maybe a few beverages, because that's the way you'll enjoy it. Nothing is really consistent or makes sense in the movie, but if you lay that aside for the two hour run time, I'm sure you'll be very amused and entertained by Woochi. I know I was.
'Woochi: The Demon Slayer' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
The image on the whole looks very good. The colors are very bright and shine throughout as this flick is very colorful from start to finish. There are a few scenes with a dark blue tint to them, which seems to mute some of the colors, but in the other scenes, everything seems to be fine. It seems like the entire picture was color graded to the fullest it could be, which made many aspects of the image pop. It gave great depth to the picture. The detail is very sharp in most scenes as we can see every stitch in the costumes and facial pores clearly. The black levels run deep and inky throughout as well. There is a bit of CGI in this picture and it seems to flow evenly and smoothly with the live action taking place. I didn't notice any motion blur or banding throughout, even in the bigger action scenes.
Shout Factory did a great job with this 2009 epic Korean tale.
This release has two lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mixes, along with two 2.0 mixes. Each come with an English option and a Korean option. Which one you prefer is up to the viewer, however I always prefer the non-dubbed versions to make the film less silly.
Dialogue is always crystal clear and perfectly situated on the fronts. The directionality here is used well and often. The dynamic range is robust too. When it comes to the music and sound effects, things heat up as the lows and highs are loud and pack a punch. The full speaker system received a solid workout, however it seemed that some of the audio is out of synch in a couple of places, but quickly fixes itself. It was a tiny bit distracting, and in this day and age, I'd think that this wouldn't be an issue, but unfortunately it still is.
All nitpicks aside, this is a solid audio presentation.
'Woochi: The Demon Slayer' is a jumbled mess of action, special effects, monsters, and a madman. It never really makes any coherent sense, but don't let that dissuade you from watching this very fun Korean action fantasy film. It's highly entertaining and it comes with solid audio and video transfers as well as some fairly spectacular extras. Recommended.