Friday, December 31, 2010

Movie Review: Joongchun

Joongchun (중천, distributed as The Restless in the United States, though the title is more correctly translated as Midheaven [1]) is a South Korean fantasy film. According to the film, departed souls that haven't achieved nirvana end up in Midheaven. After 49 days have passed, they are reincarnated. The film deals with a man, Yi-gwak, who awakes to find himself in Midheaven—even though he never died.[2] There he discovers the soul of his murdered fiancée, Yon-hwa. But she doesn't remember him because she had her memories destroyed.

Sounds like a love story, right? Well, it's not (even though it was billed as one). Yon-hwa gave up her memories to become one of the White Reapers, the protectors of Midheaven. And even though she is clearly the least competent of them, she is entrusted with a Holy Stone that will allow demons to invade the land of the living. Even though she doesn't remember him, Yi-gwak employs himself as her protector. He spends the rest of the film, to no avail, trying to recover their romance.

The protagonist is too mild and makes me think of a kitten more than an accomplished and renowned demon-killer. And his hair looked like it had rats sleeping in it.[3] The main actress always looked like someone had just punched her in the face and her nose was about to bleed. I'm not complaining that they weren't beautiful—I'm complaining that they weren't believable.

My verdict: This movie was okay. At the end there is an epic fight scene with thousands of demons which is pretty spectacular. The cinematography is lush and (with the exception of a few obviously computer animated scenes [4]) well done. If you're a fan of Eastern fantasy warrior cinema, you'll probably enjoy this one; otherwise you'll probably be happier with something that isn't subtitled.


[1] See

[2] As far as I could tell, the why of that is never explained.

[3] As is common in Eastern fantasy films, the bad guy has really long hair, but it's straight and shiny (i.e. well-groomed).

[4] Including one completely hokey scene where two of their pursuers start sprouting chains out of their backs.

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