Following the success of the film Midnight Runners, expectations were high for director Kim Joo Hwan. But instead of capitalizing on the hit action-comedy film, he shifted gears and, instead, turned to direct action-horror film The Divine Fury.
Kim works once more with Park Seo Joon, who was also the star of Midnight Runners. Here, Seo Joon plays Park Yong Hoo, who was raised by a single father, a devout Catholic who believed that prayers could solve any problem. But when an accident killed his father despite his sincere prayers, Yong Hoo left his faith behind him as he became a successful international mixed martial arts fighter.
It was only through a stigmata wound that Yong Hoo is pulled back to the world of churches, where he encounters Father Ahn (Ahn Sung Ki), a Vatican priest who exorcises demons. The two unlikely partners band together to put a stop to the possessions plaguing Seoul and to take down the Dark Bishop (Woo Do Hwan), an owner of the club who worships Satan in exchange for eternal life.
Despite the action promised by The Divine Fury in trailers, its first part of the film is relatively quiet. Although there were demons, exorcisms, and some action scenes, most of the movie focuses on the relationship between Yong Hoo and Father Ahn. Their surrogate father-son relationship is the heart of the movie, and Park Seo Joon and Ahn Sung Ki played their roles well. Their conversations on faith will strike a chord with anyone, regardless of religion—it’s gives you something to think about instead of becoming a lecture or a homily.
As for the action scenes, they all follow the same pattern: Father Ahn struggles to exorcise a demon, and Yong Hoo becomes a deus ex machina with his magic hand. The concept of the supernatural underworld, Yong Hoo’s role in it, and the Dark Bishop’s involvement was never fully explored. The action scenes that capitalize on Yong Hoo’s MMA skills were crammed toward the last parts of the film, making them an afterthought. Despite these, the cinematography and the exorcism effects lead well to the nervousness that will have moviegoers anticipating—or dreading—what’s going to happen next.
The movie also leaves a pleasant surprise at the end. Don’t leave your seats even after the credits roll to find out!
All in all, The Divine Fury is not a perfect film, but a lot of elements definitely worked to make it an enjoyable watch, nonetheless.
The Divine Fury opens in cinemas nationwide on August 14. The film is brought to you by Pioneer Films.