Shout! Factory // 2009 // 115 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 24th, 2013
Woochi, there it is!
I try to consider myself a man of the world. I respect other cultures and world views and am not so short-sighted as to think that everyone should subscribe to my particular belief system.
That said, I have no idea what the crap is going on in Woochi the Demon Slayer. My threshold for ridiculousness is high, especially when dealing with cult overseas imports, but staring at what unfolded when Woochi was unleashed left me befuddled and bored.
Here's the scoop: It's General Ancient Times in Korea, before laptops, hybrid cars, and flat-front pants, in a world full of magic and anthropomorphic rodents. At the center of this fantastical tomfoolery is Jeon Woo-chi (Gang Dong-Won), a wizard of considerable power but questionable work ethics. He's an impulse-driven spellcaster, more interested in scoring with the ladies than smacking around the goblins of his age.
Thanks to some runaway magic, Woo-chi gets trapped in an ancient scroll, only to be sprung from his restraints in 2009 by his ageless wizarding pals. Turns out the goblins have shown up in contemporary Korea looking to spread havoc. Woo-chi must now rediscover his evil-fighting prowess, leap all over Korea, and crap magic all over the place.
At first blush, Woochi the Demon Slayer seems to have everything I'd want in a crazy-ass kung fu fantasy: goblins, time travel, and outrageous visual effects. So how come it didn't land for me?
Woochi clocks in at 115 minutes and while that may not seem like an intimidating runtime, this demon slayer just feels sluggish. An inordinate amount of time -- about 30 minutes -- is spent in ancient Korea. It's a lot of table-setting for what's to come, as the film takes its sweet time developing plot and characters that, frankly, aren't as prominent when the action shifts to modern times. Things pick up a bit when that shift happens and the on-screen mayhem is far more engaging when our heroes and villains are leaping compact cars in a high-traffic chase scene. The CGI is copious and decent, but ultimately seems squandered because of the film's easygoing narrative momentum.
The Blu-ray: a bright, clean and peppy 1080p, 1.85:1 transfer pumps out the inventive effects and fantasy while the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (Korean) socks out some active sound work. Extras: production and CGI featurettes and deleted scenes.
I was hoping for (as was promised) big time delirious action, but there's just not enough here to sink your teeth into. The fact that Woochi is based on a Korean folk tale doesn't help tremendously with the relatability factor.
Guilty of not slaying enough demons.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Korean)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 115 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes