Early in the sixteenth century, a group of Taoist monks accidentally open the gates of a heavenly prison a day too soon, unleashing a hoard of shape-shifting goblins on the world, inadvertently misplacing the pipe which could control, and re-imprison them, in the process. Trainee wizard Woochi (Gang Dong-won) - determined to become the world's greatest wizard, much to the annoyance of both wizard Hwadam, (Kim Yoon-suk), and his master - stumbles upon the the pipe during his search for a mystical knife to help him achieve his goal, but when his master is killed, Woochi is blamed and imprisoned (along with, his recently turned human, dog/horse sidekick, Chorangyi (Yoo Hae-jin), within a set of artist's drawings.
Cut to the present day, and with goblins once again wreaking havoc in modern-day Seoul, the monks realise that they have little option but to release Woochi from the drawing and reluctantly ask him for his help to save the world...
From the very first moments of the film - as the monks realise that they have miscalculated the date for their ritual - there is a noticeable tongue-in-cheek humour present throughout the entire running time of the film, and the combination of a story which doesn't take itself too seriously with a set of genuinely likeable characters ensures that Woochi: The Demon Slayer easily draws viewers willingly into its mystical, yet wacky, world.
Woochi is resolute in his unshakeable belief that he is a masterful wizard, but he's the only one. All around him consider him to be a rogue and/or an imbecile and would much prefer him to simply be out of their hair, once and for all, and
the death of Woochi's master allows them the perfect excuse to achieve just that.
However, they are completely and blissfully unaware that in 500 years' time, they'll have to come crawling on their hands and knees to this man whom they so despise and ridicule.
Aiding Woochi, and often actually saving him from one danger or another (with absolutely no thanks or acknowledgment to the fact whatsoever), is his faithful dog (turned human by Woochi's magic), Chorangyi, whose main reason in helping Woochi become the most powerful wizard is his hope of becoming permanently human, once and for all, but he too is unaware of the full state of play and will eventually learn that not everything is as it initially appears to be.
Woochi: The Demon Slayer is at once an action film, period drama, martial arts movie, romance, fantasy and comedy, with each genre element blending seemlessly into the overall plot. The martial arts present never overshadow proceedings and, in fact, the film is made stronger by their measured use, with the well thought out, and quite spectacular, CGI special effects (both in the martial arts segments as well as the 'magical' parts of the film) being of top notch quality throughout - never feeling fake, forced, or squeezed in simply for effect.
These too reflect the underlying humour of the storyline - with characters regularly vanishing into walls and moving within drawings - and are even present in the realisation of a female rabbit and a male rat as the evil goblins themselves, ultimately combining with the varied genre elements present to also ensure that Woochi: The Demon Slayer appeals to martial arts and fantasy/comedy film fans alike.
The characters themselves all work well together and, in fact, play off each other with Woochi's relationship with Chorangyi and In-kyung (Lim Soo-jung) - who moves between a helpless flower and femme fatale (with an uncanny likeness to Lady Vengeance) - easily being the strongest and funniest.
Numerous film genres blending seemlessly with top notch action, well-realised special effects and genuinely likeable characters add up to Woochi: The Demon Slayer being out and out spectacular entertainment from beginning to end.
Gang Dong-Won, Kim Yoon-Suk, Lim Soo-Jung, Yoo Hae-Jin
The DVD edition reviewed here is the UK (Region 2) Cine Asia 2-Disc Edition. The Film is presented as an anamorphic transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and there are no image artifacts (and no ghosting) present. The picture is absolutely exemplary and compliments the beautifully rich visuals perfectly throughout - both in the special-effects laden sections as well as the more "normal" scenes.
All in all, this is yet another example of the superb quality of DVD releases which are now being released in the UK. For several years, UK film fans could expect liitle more than a trailer reel provided as the full extent of DVD special features, but with superb releases like 'Woochi: The Demon Slayer' containing a plethora of DVD extras, Cine Asia are truly resetting the balance and providing a benchmark by which other distribution companies must measure themselves.
The original Korean language soundtrack is provided as a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 and is easily equal to the superb image quality present. The musical score is also well balanced and noticeably nuanced throughout.
Excellent subtitles are provided throughout the main feature and all of the extensive extras (full details below).
• Director: Choi Dong-hoon
• Format: PAL, Anamorphic, Widescreen, Subtitled
• Language: Korean
• Subtitles: English
• Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
• Region: Region 2
• Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
• Number of discs: 2
• Classification: 15
• Distribution: Cine-Asia/Showbox Media Group
• Run Time: 115 minutes (approx.)
• Dolby Digital Korean 2.0 & 5.1 • English Subtitles • Audio Commentary by Bey Logan & Mike Leeder • Trailer Gallery • Deleted Scenes • The Newest Korean Style Hero Movie • Making of • Interview Gallery • Production Featurettes : The Magic of Computer Graphics - 4 Featurettes • The Premiere • The Press Conference • The Showcase
• DTS HD Master Audio Korean 5.1 • English Subtitles • Trailer Gallery • Audio Commentary by Bey Logan & Mike Leeder • Making of • Interview Gallery • Deleted Scenes • The Newest Korean Style Hero Movie • Production Featurettes : The Magic of Computer Graphics - 4 Featurettes • The Premiere • The Press Conference • The Showcase • Plus additional 60 minute Featurette (Blu-Ray exclusive)