Woochi: The Demon Slayer Blu-ray Review
For centuries, humans and beasts lived on separate planes, thanks to a flute that kept all goblins and monsters out. Without it, the beasts would roam free and raise all sorts of hell. It’s not until 2009 that the flute falls into the wrong hands, leaving the monsters to threaten the stability of modern Korea.
Enter Woochi (Kang Dong-won, of Jang Hoon’s SECRET REUNION), a Taoist wizard who, hundreds of years before, had been made the scapegoat of a murder and was imprisoned in the artwork of an ancient scroll with his shape-shifting buddy (Yoo Hae-jin, who won a Korean Film Award for MOSS). As the movie is titled WOOCHI: THE DEMON SLAYER and not WOOCHI: THE GUY WHO SITS ON THE COUCH AND LETS HIS NATIVE LAND BE OVERTAKEN BY GHOULS, we know that Woo-chi will be tasked to retrieve the flute and slay the demons.
This should all set the stage for a series of sequences with Woochi wiping out the race of demons. But instead, that is saved almost exclusively for the climax. One of the causes of this is that Woochi is too busy stirring up trouble, playing the womanizer and grooming his ego to seriously consider being a legend in his country. The other is that only a pair of monsters has been unleashed and so Woochi is limited in his foes.
The protagonist is a bit of a goofball and so WOOCHI: THE DEMON SLAYER comes off a bit silly. Some of the line deliveries (mainly in part to the awful dubbing, which sounds like voiceover work form B-level foreign cartoons) and special effects (which, at times, are reminiscent of dated video games) feel so awkward and lazy that it’s hard to tell if the audience is supposed to take the movie seriously. While a portion of the action scenes are intended to be on the outlandish side (the car chase topped off with a bow and arrow assault, for example), surely we aren’t meant to laugh at the production team’s hard work.
One of the key crew members is action director Doo-hong Jung (THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE WEIRD, as well as this year’s G.I. JOE: RETALIATION) who, with aid from stunt coordinator David No (John Dahl’s THE GREAT RAID), provides terrific choreography for the fight sequences. Another, of course, is director Choi Dong-Hoon (2006’s TAZZA: THE HIGH ROLLER, 2012’s THE THIEVES), who falters in his efforts by trying to expand the plot (worked from a Korean folktale) so much that he ends up nearly ignoring what the viewers want: action. (Somehow, the movie was one of the highest-grossing Korean films of its year.) Choi Dong-Hoon’s poor vision proves to be the biggest flaw of WOOCHI: THE DEMON SLAYER. What could have been a thrilling action-fantasy ends up being an absurd and overlong bore.
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. WOOCHI: THE DEMON SLAYER looks very good in high-definition, with strong blacks and fine detail.
Audio: Korean DTS-HD 5.1; Korean Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English. The sound effects come through speakers with great presence, adding nicely to the fantasy elements of the movie.
The Newest Korean Style Hero Movie (5:51) is a brief promotional piece, with interviews and on-set footage.
Deleted Scenes (13:43) offers a selection of discarded scenes that add some more action and character development.
Making Of (25:09) showcases some great behind-the-scenes footage of stunts being tested and performed.
The Production Featurettes are divided into six sections: The Training Process (3:48), The World Outside the Frame (8:48), Production Design (14:34), Action and Special Effects (16:08), Shooting and Lighting (6:22), and Post-Production – Sound and Editing (6:00).
The Magic of Computer Graphics is divided into four parts: Visual Arts (15:17), CG Scenes in the Pre-Production Stage (26:04), CG Mixed in with the final stage (10:43), The CG Process – The Before & After (2:41).
The Interview Gallery serves up comments from the Director & Cast (5:18) and the Director, Key Staff & Cast on Pre-Production (10:55).